3rd century BC Buddhist temple unearthed in Swat
Swat: The Bazira area of Barikot tehsil has been the site of heavy archeological activity as anthropologists unearth the oldest Buddhist temple dating back to 3rd century BC.
The unearthing of what is being called “the discovery of the decade”, was a result of a collaborative effort between the archeologists of Ca’ Foscari University and the Italian Archeological Mission with the provincial department of archeology and museums.
Andreas Ferrarese, the Italian Ambassador to Pakistan, took pride in the fact that the latest discovery was made by Italian archeologists and was euphoric about Italy and Pakistan’s partnership during the entire excavation.
“I feel overjoyed that the archeology of Pakistan and Italy have numerous commonalities. Globalization is not just a recent phenomenon, by studying history and old societies we can observe evidences of interchanging technology, cultures and beliefs, which is surprising. He further insisted, “The more we look into our past and history the better the chance we have to co-exist.”
The director of the Italian Mission, Prof. Luca M Oliviery made observations that the structure of the temple dates back to the Mauryan era, who ruled the region in the 3rd century BC. The structure also showed evidence of a major renovation that took place in the 2nd century BC.
The city of Bazira, known for its history, witnessed the arrival of Alexander the Great, who fortified the city and used it as a base operations, the evidence of which have been found in an existing structure dating back to the time of the Mauryan king, Ashoka.
During the time of King Menander, in the mid-second century, the monument was further constructed and was kept functional till the 3rd and 4th century. After a devastating earthquake hit the city of Kushan in Bazira, the monument and its surrounding areas were abandoned.
Archeologists have also stated that the site has been raided multiple times by illegal excavators between 2008 and 2010. “If these goods weren’t stolen we would have been able to form a better understanding of the local culture and technology used at that time.”
Besides numerous goods being stolen, archeologists have discovered currency coins issued by King Menander, onyx-made seals depicting a young man in Greek attire decorated with Kharosthi inscriptions and several utensils depicting the Indo-Greek culture exchange.
Pakistan’s director of archeology, Dr. Abdul Samad Khan, made his remarks. “The discovery is of pivotal importance as it gives a sense of pre-historic religious harmony and an exchange of ideas and culture in the historically rich, Gandhara era. These are lessons from history that the modern world can benefit from.”
The Swat region is dubbed one of the richest in archeological treasure where archeologists have claimed to only discover five per cent sites and the other 95 per cent still lie unearthed.