Category Archives: Archaeology

Fifth volume: Frontier Archaeology sees light of day after nine years

The Express Tribune
By Hidayat Khan
Published: May 6, 2015

PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa archaeology department’s flagship journal has seen the light of day after a gap of nine years.

The fifth volume of Frontier Archaeology carries eight research papers on the region’s heritage, one on ongoing excavation projects and one which analyses the art and architecture of K-P. The articles have been penned by national and international scholars under the guidance of K-P Archaeology and Museums Director Dr Abdul Samad. “We have ensured the academic value of the journal is not compromised. Pending journals will also be published soon,” said Dr Samad who served as the publication’s editor.


The journal includes an archaeological survey of Swabi conducted by scholars Saleh Muhammad Khan, Bakht Muhammad and Fawad Khan.

The survey attempts to document all unearthed immovable structures dating back to Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and British periods and explains 123 sites in detail. Some of the Buddhist sites have already been partially excavated while some ancient temples, gurdwaras and bridges have been identified for the first time.

Saleh and Bakht have co-authored another paper on the archaeological sites of Hazara Division, Abbottabad district in particular. The report mentions 210 newly-discovered sites from periods as old as 2CE. Continue reading

New Gandhara Site Unearthed in Pakistan
By Abdur Razzaq

Sunday, 10 May 2015 00:00

Bhamala site The recent excavation aimed to expose the remaining portions of the site and to reconfirm that it dates back to the 7th century AD.

Bhamala site
The recent excavation aimed to expose the remaining portions of the site and to reconfirm that it dates back to the 7th century AD.

A 14-meter-tall statue depicting the death of Buddha made of kanjur stone was discovered last month during a 12-week excavation at the World Heritage Site of Bhamala in northwest Pakistan.

Bhamala is a historical village in the Taxila valley of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province in northwest Pakistan.

The archeological site, which was erected by the ancient Gandhara Kingdom, is located along the northernmost part of the right bank of Haro River.

Taxila valley was included on the list of World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1980.

The Bhamala Buddhist complex enjoys an important geographical position in the Taxila valley and is one of very few sites to have a cruciform stupa. Continue reading

Third century BC stupa discovered at ancient Buddhist site

Excavations being carried out at the newly discovered stupa at Badalpur near Taxila. The other pictures are of the discoveries unearthed.  — Dawn

Excavations being carried out at the newly discovered stupa at Badalpur near Taxila. The other pictures are of the discoveries unearthed. — Dawn


Excavations being carried out at the newly discovered stupa at Badalpur near Taxila. The other pictures are of the discoveries unearthed. — Dawn

TAXILA: A stupa dating back to the 3rd Century BC was discovered at the ancient Buddhist site of Badalpur near Taxila during excavations carried out by the Taxila Institute of Asian Civilisations (TIAC) of Quaid-i-Azam University.

The stupa measuring 25×25 was discovered on the southern side of the main monastery with a centre water tank at the ancient Buddhist site. Coins, pottery and metal objects have also been excavated from the site by graduate and doctorate students of the TIAC. The students were led by the institute’s director, Professor Dr Ashraf Khan, Assistant Professor Dr Sadid Arif and Coordinator Mohammad Ibrahim.

Know more: Rare discoveries made at Bhamula Stupa site

Professor Dr Ashraf Khan told Dawn that the newly discovered monastery was built in Kushan workmanship style known as ‘diaper masonry’, consisting of thin neatly placed layers of schist interspersed with large blocks of stone as well as semi-ashlar masonry.


He said the cells of the monastery are plastered with mud mortar, the first of its kind seen in the Taxila Valley.

In response to a query, Dr Khan said the discovery of metal objects showed the craftsmanship of the people living in the area between the first and fourth century.

Dr Khan said six copper coins from the Kushan period have been discovered in the excavations. He said that according to the carbon study of the newly discovered stupa carried out by the University of Wisconsin-Madison dates it between the 3rd century BC to 1st century AD.

554d2a8f5dae7He said during the last season of the excavation, a good number of antiquities such as a bust of Buddha in stucco, copper coins, bones, charcoal, iron objects and pottery were discovered.

Unveiling the archaeological significance of the site, he said the site was early mentioned by Alexander Cunningham in 1863, the then director, Archaeological Survey of India, during his expedition to Gandhara. Continue reading

Encroachments eating into Bavikonda Hill?

Times of India
TNN | Apr 29, 2015, 04.54AM IST

VISAKHAPATNAM: The 2000-year-old Buddhist heritage site on Bavikonda Hill near Bheemili Road seems to be facing a threat of encroachment as a part of the hill, very close to the heritage site, has been fenced off allegedly for private construction activity against archaeological norms.

The private site supervisor, who happened to be on the spot when this correspondent visited the place, said a private building is coming up. Sources indicated that a former chief minister’s kin owns the government’ land but authorities seem to be unaware of the issue.

The Bavikonda Buddhist Complex, located atop a 130-metre hill nearly 20 km from the Port City, is one of the four Buddhist heritage sites in the district and is situated close to the Thotlakonda Buddhist heritage site. No tourist could be spotted on the sprawling complex, which houses various kinds of ancient stupas and viharas, but is now overrun by dry reeds. The watchman, Ram Naidu, said, “Hardly any visitors come here. Usually, youngsters carrying liquor bottles frequent the place.”

Barely a five-minute walk from the heritage site through a red earthen track takes one to a huge fenced plot admeasuring around six-seven acres. When asked about the fenced plot, a person who identified himself as the site supervisor Acchu Babu, said, “Some building is coming up. I’m not sure whether it will be an institute or a residential building.”

Reliable sources, who visited the site earlier, indicated that one of the persons present there had mentioned that a certain private educational institution, which owns a chain of colleges, might be building a new centre there. Interestingly, the educational institution in question belongs to the kin of a former Andhra Pradesh chief minister. In fact, according to sources, most of the land up the hills between Rushikonda-Bheemili Road are benami property of politicians.

The entire hill legally belongs to the state department of archaeology and museums. When asked about the issue, AP State Department of Archaeology and Museums assistant director K Chitti Babu denied any knowledge of upcoming construction activity in the area. “The entire 360 acres belong to our department and is a protected area. The fence could also be a boundary for our site. In case anyone attempts to encroach, action will be taken against them. There are some parcels of land on Bavikonda Hill that were given to private parties earlier by the state government,” Chitti Babu admitted.

However, when asked Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) member and noted heritage activist Rani Sarma stated, “Whether government or private, nobody is allowed to construct any concrete structure in and around protected areas and certainly not up Bavikonda Hill as it’s against archaeological norms. We have to be cautious that no such constructions come up in future either.”


Aragada stup hints at historical cluster

3oriexca1_164549The Telegraph
Bibhuti Barik

Entire structure to emerge by fortnight

Bhubaneswar, May 2: Archaeologists have stumbled upon a Buddhist stup atop Aragada, a hill on the city outskirts, which could date back to as early as the first century.

The hill, about 5km from Jatni, also has a double-storey cave temple from the seventh or eighth century. The place is barely 200 metres from the Kahurda-Puri railway line and offers a beautiful view of the meandering Daya river from the 174-metre hilltop.

The culture department’s archaeologists, who are in the preliminary stage of excavation, have found the distinctly carved stup after removing layers of soil. It lay buried under an earthen mound covered with wild bushes.

Odisha Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies secretary Sunil Kumar Patnaik said: “After a month’s work, we have found scattered architectural remains and a circular stup on the hilltop. Its full shape will emerge after a fortnight or so.”

Patnaik, a well-known Buddhist scholar, said the stup’s construction style and the type of stones used showed it was much older than the two-storey cave temple located nearby. He said it could date back to the first century.

Historians are also studying the correlation between the locations of Sisupalgarh, Dhauli hills, Biswanath hill and Aragada as they appear to form a cluster. They think that there might have been a sizeable Buddhist population in and around Bhubaneswar as the infamous Kalinga War (261BC) was fought on the banks of the Daya river near the Dhauli hills.

Patnaik hoped that the excavations at Aragada would provide fresh insight into the antiquity of Bhubaneswar and Puri.

Niranjan Rout, a research scholar doing his PhD in Buddhist studies at Utkal University, said: “In a translated version of Madalapanji (chronicle of Jagannath temple), eminent historian Karuna Sagar Behera and his associate U.N. Dhal have made a reference to Aragada.”

Bhaskar Chandra Jena, a resident of the nearby Haripur village, said: “Till 1984, the Aragada hill was unknown outside this area, and the villagers used to be the cave temple’s caretakers. In 1984, during the Raja utsav, we had invited former MP Chintamani Panigrahi to the festival. After that, the place gradually came into notice with the culture department’s involvement.”

The cave temple near the excavation site has been built in the Nagara style of architecture, which became popular in India between the fifth and seventh century, and Khandolite stones have been used in the structure. There are votive stups lying nearby and the temple has unique latticed windows on its eastern and western sides.

Madhusudan Panda, the caretaker of Aragada, which is a state archaeology protected site, said: “Earlier, a villager had discovered four statues while ploughing his field near the hill. These statues are now worshiped at a temple in Haripur.”

He said many foreign tourists coming to Aragada also visited the temple at the village because of its beautifully statues.


Buddha Purnima: Ancient Buddhist city in Afghanistan could be destroyed by copper mining

Around 600 large Buddha statues and frescoes showing scenes from the life of the Buddha, have been unearthed to date from the ancient city of Mes Aynak in Afghanistan, but the site is enormous and many more treasures are expected to be buried beneathWikimedia Commons

Around 600 large Buddha statues and frescoes showing scenes from the life of the Buddha, have been unearthed to date from the ancient city of Mes Aynak in Afghanistan, but the site is enormous and many more treasures are expected to be buried beneathWikimedia Commons

By Jayalakshmi K
May 4, 2015 10:03 BST 1,700 95


A 2,000-year-old Buddhist city, Mes Aynak in Afghanistan, rich in stupas, shrines and monuments could be razed to the ground if a Chinese mining company is allowed to prospect for huge copper reserves on which the city sits.

The massive 500,000 square metre area straddling a 5,000-year-old Bronze Age settlement sat on what was once the cultural crossroad linking Asia to the Mediterranean.

An estimated $100bn (£66bn) worth of copper lies locked within Mes Aynak.

Around 600 large Buddha statues, and frescoes showing scenes from the life of the Buddha, have been unearthed to date, but the site is enormous and many more treasures are expected to be buried beneath.

“Some believe future discoveries at the site have the potential to redefine the history of Afghanistan and the history of Buddhism itself,” reports Saving Mes Aynak.

The Afghanistan government and a Chinese state-owned mining company, the China Metallurgical Group Corporation, plan to mine the area. To reach the deposit, the site along with six surrounding villages have to be destroyed, reports Popular Archaeology.

The company plans to use open-pit mining, which is one of the most environmentally destructive style of mining that often leaves behind a trail of destruction, including erosion, tailings, groundwater contamination by chemicals, etc. Continue reading

Pune gets ‘fresh’ Buddhist caves

The caves are very basic, with no carvings or sculptures, and have platforms carved out of stone to be used as resting places By: Sandeep Kolhatkar

The caves are very basic, with no carvings or sculptures, and have platforms carved out of stone to be used as resting places
By: Sandeep Kolhatkar

Pune Mirror | Apr 29, 2015, 02.30 AM IST

Amateur archaeologist discovers three caves upon a hillock at Khed Shivapur Baug village, which were probably used as dormitories by monks and tradesmen.

Vikram Marathe was on a regular trekking trip to Khed Shivapur Baug village, 20 km from the city, when he stumbled upon a cave at one of its hillocks. The 40-year-old Indologist searched the entire hillock and found two other similar caves — these ones with stone platforms. Two extensive years of research later, with valuable insights from the Deccan College, he realised that he had discovered three ‘brand new’ Buddhist caves.

Pune has a fair share of relics from the Buddha-era — the Karla caves, the Bedse caves and the Bhaja caves, apart from the rock-cut beauties of Lenyadri. These new finds will only add to the eclectic list. According to researchers from Deccan College, the caves had been built during the first or second century AD and are situated at the hillock near the village. Marathe, who has a degree in Fine Arts and works as a professional designer in the industrial sector, has done his Masters in Indology. He has been working in the field of archaeology for the past 15 years and was instrumental in finding trade routes in various parts of the state.

“I have a special penchant for trekking and, during one such trip to the Khed Shivapur area a couple of years ago, I discovered a cave at the south side of the hillock,” he said. While measuring, it was revealed that the cave was six feet high. There were also provisions made for fitting doors at the cave, which meant there had been a door once at the main entrance. “While inspecting the entire hill, I came across two other caves, which had stone platforms that had probably been used for sleeping or resting,” Marathe added.

During his study of the caves, he also approached Deccan College and learnt from researchers there that the caves were like Chaitya Gruhas and must have been built for travellers, pilgrims and Buddhist monks to stay during the night and meditate. Dr Shrikant Ganveer, a senior researcher from Deccan College, who has been working on caves belonging to the Buddha era, said the caves at this particular location have a special significance in Buddhist history.

“It clearly indicates that the monks who used to go to monasteries and caves at Karla and Bhaja near Lonavala, rested in these caves at night or when weary of travel. Since these were just small dormitories, there are no carvings or sculptures on the walls. It’s very basic, with just elevated platforms carved out from the stone so that monks and travelers can sleep,” Ganveer added.

Geographically, these caves had been built at a very strategic location as the area connects Pune to Shirwal, Karad and Kolhapur, he claimed. “If you see the locations of these caves, you will find that these were carved out from the hillock, at a certain height from the surface, for the safety and security of monks and other pilgrims,” Ganveer explained.

Deccan College vice chancellor Dr Vasant Shinde, who has done research on the Satvahan rule and its archeological significance in and around Pune, informed that these caves marked the routes taken by monks.

“A majority of the monasteries were built during the Satvahan rule in the first century. In the same period, care was taken to build small gruhas or dormitories for monks and tradesmen, who used to travel by these routes,” he said, adding, “There is a need for more excavation in the area as there are possibilities of more such caves and other structures cropping up, which can throw more light upon the area’s Buddhist antecedents.”