Ahmad Hasan Dani (1920-2009): Legendary Archeologist, Historian Dies

Posted on January 26, 2009
Filed Under >Darwaish, People
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Legendary archeologist, historian and linguist, Dr. Ahmad Hasan Dani has passed away in Islamabad today at age 89; born on June 20, 1920.

Among Pakistan’s most noted authority on South Asian History and Archeology, Dr. Dani was author of several books and received national and international recognition for his remarkable work. He was under treatment at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in Islamabad where he died today.Dani has left behind his wife, three sons Dr Anis Ahmad Dani (World Bank), Navaid Ahmad Dani (PTV), Junaid Ahmad Dani (Action Aid), daughter Fauzia Iqbal Butt, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

An erudite writer of history and an evergreen tree of knowledge, Dr Ahmad Hasan Dani spent his entire life to establish a better world by providing his study of history, an attribute which made him an extraordinary scholar, at home and abroad.

Ahmad Hasan Dani was a key figure in setting up of several museums in Pakistan and his vast publications have set the pace for future course of action in this vital field in the country. Late Dr. Dani had been extensively engaged in excavation works on the pre-Indus Civilization site of Rehman Dheri. He also made a number of discoveries of Gandhara sites in Peshawar and Swat Valleys, and worked on Indo-Greek sites in Dir.

From 1985, he was involved in research focusing on the documentation of the rock carvings and inscriptions on ancient remains from the Neolithic age in the high mountain region of Northern Pakistan along with Harald Hauptmann of Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, University of Heidelberg. In 1990–91, he led the UNESCO international scientific teams for the Desert Route Expedition of the Silk Road in China and the Steppe Route Expedition of the Silk Road in the Soviet Union.

He was Emeritus Professor at the Quaid-e-Azam University and the director of Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations. Throughout his career, Dani held various academic positions and international fellowships, apart from conducting archaeological excavations and research. As a prolific linguist, he spoke more than 14 local and international languages and dialects (French, Turkish, Persian, Bangla, Pushto, Hindi, Marathi, Kashmiri, Tamil, Punjabi, Sindhi, Seraiki, Broshiski and Karoshti – apart from English and Urdu).

He was also the recipient of various civil awards in Pakistan and abroad, some of which are:

Professor Dr. Ahmad Hasan Dani’s national and international Awards:

  • 2000 Hilal-e-Imtiaz, Government of Pakistan
  • 1998 Légion d’honneur, President of the French Republic
  • 1997 Aristotle Silver Medal, UNESCO
  • 1996 Order of the Merit, Government of Germany
  • 1994 Knight Commander, Government of Italy
  • 1992 Aizaz-e-Kamal, Government of Pakistan
  • 1990 Palmes Academiques, Government of France
  • 1986 Gold Medal, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh
  • 1969 Sitara-e-Imtiaz, Government of Pakistan
  • 1944 Gold Medal, Banaras Hindu University (the first ever Muslim student there. He broke the 25-year-old record of achieving the highest mark in MA, becoming the first Muslim gold medalist in the University’s history)

29 responses to “Ahmad Hasan Dani (1920-2009): Legendary Archeologist, Historian Dies”

  1. weasel says:


  2. Muhammad Usman Butt says:

    Truely a sad moment and a great loss for the nation. Researchers like him are rare to be found in pakistan, much better than the corrupt political leadership we have. Hope that young pakistani researchers take him a role model in whatever field they are doing their research, like me doing currently research in physics here in stuttgart germany. Hope I can serve pakistan like Dani after I have gained enough experience.

  3. Sharjeel says:

    Its truly sad that being born in Pakistan and living there till i was 17, i never once heard of this great man. And i wonder how many more such selfless people that are out there, that many will never hear about, who still who work tirelessly in a world that is undeniably on its way down the gutter.

  4. Rabi says:

    I am so Sad.

    Dani Sahab ( Marhom ) rest in peace. With this news item I drifted back in time when we used to watch your PTV programs showing you walking across the often forgotten places of Pakistan and educating the masses on the historical significance of those places.

    We will all miss you Sir. Inah Lilah E WaInallahe-e-Rajeon

  5. Nadeem Anjum says:

    We desperately need such true sons of Land.. He was a pride.. a true scholar and what an ideal Pakistani should be.. May Allah bless his soul..

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