Appendix 2: Conflict Chronology and Solutions

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Chronology of the Conflicting Situation
and Solutions to Avoid Destruction

Fall 1998

Discovery of archaeological structure B1 (underground dome-shaped construction) by RNR-RC while digging first foundation trench for Administration building. Top cover stone incidentally removed by mechanical shovel. Further dismantling of roof stones and emptying of fill sediment by RNR-RC for exploration purpose. Collection of charcoal and artifacts for further archaeological analysis.

Discovery of stone platform B3 by RNR-RC while mechanically terracing soil. Incidental removal of some superficial structural stones. Manual clearing of superficial sediment and delineation of the structure surface by RNR-RC. Some stone were slightly disturbed for exploration purpose.

Due to both accidental findings, the yard architect supposes that further structural remains could be hidden within the RNR-RC compound yard. His explorations lead to the discovery of wall remains B2 in the vicinity of underground structure B1. He further recognizes a peripheral mound (B4) as artificial, but this feature is not directly located within the compound yard.

RNR-RC Jakar decides to shift two buildings eastwards (Administration and Professional) to avoid underground structure B1.

Winter 1999

Minister of Agriculture requests Helvetas to organize an archaeological expertise on-site to assess the eventual historicity of the findings.

Redaction of an internal report by RNR-RC / Helvetas (1999) compiling the descriptions of the remains, photographs, a sketch, and the possible historical implication the structure could have. The report is transmitted to the central office of Helvetas in Zurich.

February 1999

Helvetas Office in Zurich contacts SLFA General Secretary in Zurich and asks about a possible field intervention for an archaeological expertise of the findings. SLFA decides to send an archaeologist and the intervention is planned to start in March or early April 1999. The mandatory intervention duration is set to four weeks.

April 1999

The investigation campaign 1999 is led by SLFA archaeologist R. Blumer. A representative of the Special Commission for Cultural Affairs of the Royal Government of Bhutan participates to the investigation work. A volunteer assistant from Switzerland and local fieldworkers supplement the team. On-site investigation lasts for three weeks.

At the end of the campaign, a debriefing report is presented by the author to the Minister of Agriculture, Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji, in Thimpu. Representatives of different governmental and non-governmental offices (SCCA, REID, Helvetas, etc.) attend the debriefing.

Concerning monument B3, it is decided that a slight shift (2-3 meters) of the new planned building should be considered if the historicity of the monument is confirmed through the archaeological analyses. This shift would permit the preservation of the structure.

November 1999

SLFA archaeologist R. Blumer hands out his report for the investigation 1999 to the concerned offices in Bhutan and in Switzerland. A slight modified form of the report is later published in the SLFA Yearly Report for 1998.

Early 2000

The DRDS office (former REID) of the Ministry of Agriculture inquires about possibilities to remove archaeological monument B3 to avoid further delay in construction of the RNR-RC compound. One archaeological answer is proposed by the SLFA: the monument could be fully excavated and documented during a second and last archaeological campaign in the same year. Once this documentation is gathered, it would be feasible to relocate or to dismantle the monument, depending on a decision by the concerned governmental authority.

In coordination with RNR-RC Jakar, Ministry of Agriculture, National Commission for Cultural Affairs, and Helvetas Zurich and Thimpu, the SLFA decides to bring up the main financial resources for setting up a second and eventually last excavation campaign at Batpalathang.

April-July 2000

The excavation campaign 2000 is led by SLFA archaeologist R. Blumer, and supplemented by a geologist, a biologist, an ethnologist, a representative of the NCCA, and up to ten local fieldworkers.

At campaign begin, the representative of the NCCA made a clear point that the monument should not be dismantled completely, but rather documented for later preservation..

The archaeological team, which focuses especially on monument B3, rapidly finds out that the monument B3 was much larger and complex than initially expected. Although the monument is largely be explored and documented, the gathered information cannot guarantee a detailed reconstruction of all superstructures in case of an uncontrolled dismantling.

After seven weeks of archaeological work, RNR-RC Jakar asks the author to produce an urgent statement about the historical and architectural importance of the monument. A 4-page statement with additional illustration ( Appendix 2, fig. 1 ) is delivered in time on Mai 30th, 2000, to RNR-RC Jakar, to different authorities in Bhutan, and to the SLFA in Switzerland. The archaeological investigations clearly show that monument B3 is worth preserving if possible at all. Support of this opinion come also from Bhutanese proponents in different parts of the kingdom. The conflicting situation has to be settled between the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Commission for Cultural Affairs since the issue is a matter of national heritage. The construction work has thus to be delayed until such decision is taken.

Appendix 2, fig. 1

Near campaign’s end, a new solution enabling preservation is developed between RNR-RC, representative of NCCA, and myself. The solution proposes partial re-designing of the RNR master plan, including a shift of nearly 8 meters eastwards of the laboratory building, in order to integrate the monument B3 ( Appendix 2, fig. 2 ); the new scheme seems acceptable for all concerned parties. Modalities of the integration of the monument within the compound are still to be developed.

Appendix 2, fig. 2

August 2000 to Mai 2001

The author elaborated the rich documentation gained in 1999 and 2000 as a part-time activity and with no further laboratory assistance. Financial support of this work was granted by the SLFA from August to November 2000. From December 2000 to Mai 2001, the author worked benevolently.

During this elaboration lap, tentative communication failed with the NCCA in Thimpu. Further, it is necessary to mention that the author did not receive any information from any concerned authority or organization about the resolution of the conflicting situation at Batpalathang site.

Mai 2001

The first part of the final report is distributed to the concerned authorities in Bhutan and to the SLFA in Switzerland. Reaction is awaited from the NCCA in Thimpu and from RNR-RC in Jakar.


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Copyright 2001, Reto Blumer, Switzerland
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Last updated: 29-05-2001.