Chronology of the Conflicting Situation
and Solutions to Avoid Destruction
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.
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
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
Jakar decides to shift two buildings eastwards (Administration and
Professional) to avoid underground structure B1.
of Agriculture requests Helvetas to organize an archaeological expertise
on-site to assess the eventual historicity of the findings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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..
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.