Archaeologists discover Indo-Greek city in Swat, Pakistan

Mon, Jul 4th, 2016
New Delhi Times

Archaeologists in their fresh excavations at Bazira, Barikot, Pakistan discovered large layers of the Indo-Greek civilisation. The excavated city revealed weapons and coins as well as important pottery forms that used to be imported from Greek Bactria and from the Mediterranean area in second century BC. The archaeological team consisting of Italian and Pakistani archaeologists included Elisa Iori of Bologna University, Cristiano Moscatelli of Naples University and Amanullah Afridi and Syed Niaz Ali Shah of the KP Directorate of Archaeology and Museums.

Dr Luca Maria Olivieri, head of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan, revealed that the team unearthed some very important discoveries in Bazira, Swat during their recent excavation in April-June. Excavation trainings at Barikot are funded by the Pakistan-Italian Debt Swap Programme. “Very little is known in the archaeology of the sub-continent about the material culture of the Indo-Greek. However, this time we discovered at Barikot ample layers associated not only to the Indo-Greek city (when the settlement was encompassed by the Defensive Wall, 2nd BC), but also to the pre-Greek city, the Mauryan settlement (3rd BC),” Olivieri said. Extensive evidence of the proto-historic village (Gandhara Grave Culture; 7th-8th century BC) were also found outside the Indo-Greek defensive wall.

The recent excavations unearthed a large Temple with four pillars on the northern part of the excavated area belonging to late-Kushana era (3rd century AD). “This is the third coeval public cultic space found in the late city, and it is confirming the existence of Buddhist architecture, not connected to the mainstream stupa-cum-viharas layout of the contemporary Buddhist complexes. On the contrary, these new architecture have more in common with Central Asian coeval examples and antecedents,” Olivieri added. The pre-Greek layers were found to be artificially destroyed and obliterated along the Defensive Wall at the time of its construction, to make space to the fortification, revealing conspicuous traces of the Iron Age village (7th BC). Olivieri’s team was currently excavating one hectare with a stratigraphy from 7th BC to 3rd AD in Bazira. The area corresponded to circa 1/12 of the entire city.

“The KP government is about to acquire all the excavated areas and a large buffer area around them. We are really grateful to the efforts of the provincial department of archaeology and the government,” he said. The archaeological site of Barikot is currently one of the largest and most important sites that is set to become one of the largest and long-lasting excavation projects in Pakistan 30 years down the line. It is the only Indo-Greek city excavated at that scale, and one of the few examples of a Kushan urban settlement scientifically excavated in South Asia.”Olivieri added.

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