Ahmed, Nazimuddin

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Ahmed, Nazimuddin (1923-2009) born on March 1, 1923 in his maternal grand father's house at Godagari, Rajshahi. Nazimuddin Ahmed was an eminent archaeologist. His grand father's house was in the village Azmatpur, thana Bhagobangola, district Murshidabad (now West Bengal). His father, Mvi. samsuddin ahmed was a reputed archaeologist. Nazimuddin Ahmed got his education first in Kolkata, in Taki, Bashirhat, 24, Pargonas (now South 24 Pargonas), where his father was posted. He passed matriculation examination from Taki Goverment High School in 1942, IA from Berhampore KW College in 1944, BA from Islamia College, Kolkata in 1946. He completed his Masters in Islamic History and Culture in 1949 from kolkata university. Nazimuddin Ahmed obtained PhD degree in Archaeology from London University (currently under University College London, UCL) in 1958. His doctoral dissertation was on History and Archaeology of Taxila.

Nazimuddin Ahmed started his career in August 1950 in the Department of Archaeology and Museums of Pakistan as an Excavation Assistant. He got promotion to Assistant Superintendent in 1951. On return from UK after completing PhD degree, he was promoted to Superintendent of Archaeology (Senior Class-I) in 1959. In 1970 he became Director (recently designated as Director General) of Archaeology and Museums of Pakistan. Nazimuddin Ahmed joined the department of archaeology and Museums in Bangladesh after returning from Pakistan in February 1973. In September 1976 he was appointed as UNESCO Consultant in Somalia for a short term to undertake a survey of archaeological monuments and sites. There he recommended for establishing a Department of Archaeology and Museums in Somalia with a detailed plan. He retired from service in February 1982. Later he joined as a consultant in the Cultural Heritage Project of the Department of Archaeology, which was financed by UNDP and continued for two years.

Dr Ahmed was an erudite and renowned scholar. In the beginning (1950) of his career as an archaeologist he received field training in excavation at Mohenjodaro under the famous excavator Sir Mortimer Wheeler and at Quetta, Zhob Valley, Lora Lati and Pishin in Beluchistan under Professor Rair Service, the Leader of the Second Afghan Expedition Team from Harvard University. He applied his skills in the excavation at mahasthangarh and some other sites in Bangladesh.

Dr Ahmed carried out extensive explorations in the chittagong hill tracts to study the socio cultural life of the indigenous communities in 1960s. In course of the exploration he collected many ethnological objects, which ultimately resulted in the establishment of an ethnological museum at Chittagong in 1974.

Nazimuddin Ahmed's 'Mahasthan: a Preliminary Report of the Recent Archaeological Excavations at Mahasthangarh' (1965), which ran in to several new editions subsequently, has been the major source on Mahasthan excavation until the 'France–Bangladesh Joint Venture Excavations at Mahasthangarh: First Interim Report (1993-1999)'; was published in 2001. Another book on Mahasthan, Mainamati, Paharpur in Bangla is an important source for the study of Archaeology. He was deeply involved in preparing the Master Plan for the conservation and the presentation of the ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur and the Historic Mosque-City of Bagerhat as a member of a group of international consultants.

He had also love for prehistory, protohistory, epigraphy, numismatics iconography and other branches of the discipline. He frequently visited the sites and monuments and concentrated most of his time on the architectural remains in the country. His publications The Buildings of Khan Jahan in and around Bagerhat, Kantajee Temple, Buildings of the British Raj in Bangladesh and Discover the Monuments of Bangladesh testify the depth of his authority archaeology. A few months before his death, Nazimuddin Ahmed published Panam City, in which he challenged the validity of the assumptions of all previous works on Panam City.

His last days were mostly concentrated to bringing out the commemorative volume of Professor Dr Muhammad Sirajul Islam. Dr Najimuddin Ahmed died on 7 November 2009. [Shafiqul Alam]