Dawn News

Ancient tombs discovered in Swat

In this handout picture taken on November 11, 2012 released by the Italian archaeological mission, shows a skeleton in an ancient grave discovered this fall in Udegram, in northwestern Pakistan's Swat Valley. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: Italian archaeologists say they have discovered a cemetery that reveals complex funeral rites dating back more than 3,000 years in Pakistan's Swat valley, recently controlled by the Taliban.

The Italian mission began digging in the 1950s at Udegram, a site of Buddhist treasures in Swat, the northwestern district formerly known as the Switzerland of Pakistan for its stunning mountains, valleys and rivers.

Archaeologists were aware of a pre-Buddhist grave site in Udegram, but only recently discovered the collection of almost 30 graves, tightly clustered and partially overlapping.

“Some graves had a stone wall, others were protected by walls and enclosures in beaten clay,” Luca Maria Olivieri, head of the Italian mission, told AFP.

“The cemetery... seems to have been used between the end of the second millennium BCE and the first half of the first millennium BCE,” he added.

Olivieri says the tombs point to the culture that predates the Buddhist Gandhara civilisation that took hold in northwest Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan from the first millennium BCE to the sixth century AD.

“The presence of a few iron fragments might be amongst the most ancient traces of this metal in the subcontinent,” he said.

Bodies were first laid to rest in open graves, fenced in by wooden railings. Then the graves were re-opened and the bones partially burnt before the graves were sealed and a burial mound built.

Men were buried with high quality flasks, bowls and cooking pots, and women with semi-precious beads, bronze hairpins, and spindles.

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Comments (20) Closed

Nov 24, 2012 12:27pm
If it's peace in swat there might be more hidden treasure to be found, and attracts the world in the country.
Nov 24, 2012 01:02pm
Allah Almighty has blessed this nation with the best of the history and everything, lest we realize and can cherish these treasures and use these to make a homeland of which are coming generations can be proud of.
Nov 29, 2012 09:32am
@shahid this tomb is part of Indus civilization, your nation is just born (only 64 year old). this is 3000 year old civilization. please correct your self. please don't pull Allah(God) word in history, be secular.
Nov 27, 2012 05:04am
You're 100% right. The word India was coined and imposed by the westerns, and Hindu by Persians and westerns. I never said or implied it was an Indian culture or civilization.Think with rational mind. Don't let raw emotions or personal feelings let take hold of ourselves.
Nov 25, 2012 09:04am
Says who? The men were the ones buried with cooking pots and pans, so they must've done all the cooking, LOL!!
Khalid Khan
Nov 26, 2012 11:06pm
There was no India either.
Khurram Awan (@thekhomi)
Nov 24, 2012 08:40pm
Agreed :)
Nov 24, 2012 09:19am
Gender discrimination even 3000 years ago, don't know when this all will finish.
Nov 24, 2012 11:39am
interesting findings. I hope they are not destroyed
Nov 24, 2012 08:23am
there was no need of mentioning the taliban here, the media should show some responsibility.
Nov 25, 2012 03:27am
Marlene Wilkins
Nov 24, 2012 08:25am
I'm sure the taliban will be along right-quick to erase it from history.
Nov 24, 2012 01:42pm
Good work - I am sure our part of the world would have much more historic stuff - it's just a matter of professional work required to uncover them... congratulations to the Italian team!
yasir javed
Nov 24, 2012 10:34am
"recently controlled by the Taliban." whenever i read Dawn i get the feeling i am reason CNN.
Punjabi Jat
Nov 27, 2012 07:41pm
You are not rational in your generalization of word "Pakistanis". How many Pakistanis have you met who are hell bent to destroy etc etc. There is a very big majority in Pakistan who is intellectual, secular and think very different from what your media tells you about Pakistan. We are fighting our war with those you mentioned in your email. Please learn to distinguish between good and bad and raw emotions.
Nov 25, 2012 04:22am
When asked why the Indian thinkers or swamis did not preach Europe? Swami Vivekanand replied"There was no Europe". So whenever you ( The Dawn's) mention ancient Gandhara or Indus civilization, please spare the word Pakistan. It sound so shallow, since the Pakistanis as whole so hell bent to destroy what the think is Un-Islamic.And more over there was no Pakistan.
Ifty Saeed
Nov 24, 2012 05:31pm
Fully agree with gold digger
Preet Cheema
Nov 24, 2012 01:55pm
Let them rest in peace.Why someone diging them up and putting them in circus?
Nov 24, 2012 03:14pm
I'm not being cynic, but have we really protected our already discovered ancient cultural heritage in form of archeological sites? I don't think, so let us not dig any more and save these sites for our maybe-better future generations.
Tarik Jaffery
Nov 25, 2012 05:37am
Now these open ancient treasures are prone to vandalism, theft, loot, negligence and above all the Talibanism (same as they did with Bamiyan Buddha)!! These people dont know the worth of any archelogical finding: neither the government nor the public!