In 2008, during the cataloguing of some pre-Partition documents at Malakand Fort - in the former North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan - the author unveiled a significant group of unpublished documents referring to archaeological matters. The archival study, focused on three folders containing a total of 348 documents covering a period spanning from 1895 to 1937.
The corpus covers nearly forty years of British rule over the Malakand territories, and diplomatic contacts with the nearby Native States, like Swat. The corpus contains documents of different characters: from official notifications, to demi-official letters, annotated proofs and drafts, minutes, and copies of telegrams. The corpus documents in a very detailed way, often day by day, the genesis and evolution of the archaeological research in Malakand and Swat. The character of the protagonists, the evolution of the legal context, but also the gradual expansion of the field research, is revealed throughout the entire corpus. Contrasts and solutions concerning the protection of the archaeological heritage, the different approaches of the officers and scholars involved in the field over the years, as well as the feedback received from faraway head offices, all and more than this is accurately registered in that remote British outpost that was Malakand Fort.
At Malakand Fort three generations of brave British officers proved themselves within a complex environment, and a surprisingly vast range of duties. Moreover, the special interest attached to the corpus derives from some groups of documents, letters from and to Sir Aurel Stein, some of them in copy, others in original autographed manuscripts. These documents are all connected to the explorations of Sir Aurel Stein in Swat. A first group is linked to his 1926 trip to Swat and to his identification of the Indian Aornos of Alexander’s historians. The other three groups are related to three failed plans by Stein to carry out new explorations in Swat in 1928, in 1931, and in 1933.
The work presents the archival material in chronological order, and - through them - it attempts at reconstructing the history of the archaeology of the Malakand area and Swat.