Archaeologists excavate Indo-Greek and Saka-Parthian structures at Bazira, Swat. — Dawn photo
Archaeologists excavate Indo-Greek and Saka-Parthian structures at Bazira, Swat. — Dawn photo

MINGORA: Archaeologists in their fresh excavations here at Bazira, Barikot, have discovered large layers of the Indo-Greek city with weapons and coins as well as important pottery forms imported from Greek Bactria and from the Mediterranean area in second century BCE.

Indo-Greek coins discovered during the recent excavation at Bazira, Barikot, Swat. ─ Courtesy Italian Archaeological Mission in Swat
Indo-Greek coins discovered during the recent excavation at Bazira, Barikot, Swat. ─ Courtesy Italian Archaeological Mission in Swat

Dr Luca Maria Olivieri, head of the Italian Archeological Mission in Pakistan, told Dawn that during their recent excavation in April-June his team unearthed some very important discoveries in Bazira, Swat.

The team was formed by Italian and Pakistani archaeologists, including 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. Excavation trainings at Barikot are funded by the Pakistan-Italian Debt Swap Programme.


Weapons, coins and pottery also found in fresh excavations


“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 BCE), but also to the pre-Greek city, the Mauryan settlement (3rd BCE),” he said, adding that outside the Indo-Greek defensive wall extensive evidence of the proto-historic village (Gandhara Grave Culture; 7th-8th century BCE) were also found.

Indo-Greek coins discovered during the recent excavation at Bazira, Barikot, Swat. ─ Courtesy Italian Archaeological Mission in Swat
Indo-Greek coins discovered during the recent excavation at Bazira, Barikot, Swat. ─ Courtesy Italian Archaeological Mission in Swat

He said that during the recent excavations they also discovered a large late-Kushan Temple with four pillars on the northern part of the excavated area (3rd century CE). “This is the third coeval public cultic space found in the late city, and it is confirming the existence of Buddhist architecture, which has nothing to do with the mainstream stupa-cum-viharas layout of the contemporary Buddhist complexes. Vice-versa, these new architecture have more in common with Central Asian coeval examples and antecedents,” he added.

Terracotta baroque female figurine, circa 3rd-2nd BC. ─ Courtesy Italian Archaeological Mission in Swat
Terracotta baroque female figurine, circa 3rd-2nd BC. ─ Courtesy Italian Archaeological Mission in Swat

He said that during the excavations the archaeologists also discovered that all the pre-Greek layers were 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 BCE).

Dr Luca said that his team was currently excavating one hectare with a stratigraphy from 7th BCE to 3rd CE 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.

Indo-Greek coins discovered during the recent excavation at Bazira, Barikot, Swat. ─ Courtesy Italian Archaeological Mission in Swat
Indo-Greek coins discovered during the recent excavation at Bazira, Barikot, Swat. ─ Courtesy Italian Archaeological Mission in Swat

Terming the archaeological site of Barikot one of the largest and most important sites in future, he claimed: “I foresee that in future Barikot will become one of the largest and long-lasting excavation projects in Pakistan (30 years so far) if not in the entire sub-continent. It already represents 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.”

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2016

Opinion

Editorial

Security concerns
23 Jul, 2024

Security concerns

All stakeholders want what is best for the country and its people; their differing approaches shouldn’t be viewed with such suspicion all the time.
Frankfurt vandalism
23 Jul, 2024

Frankfurt vandalism

THE state needs to seek serious answers from the German authorities regarding the July 20 mob attack targeting...
Stressed cotton economy
23 Jul, 2024

Stressed cotton economy

DECREASING cotton production should be a worry for the government because of its socioeconomic implications. Early...
Population calamity
Updated 22 Jul, 2024

Population calamity

Pakistan can also control its growth rate by following the examples of its peers and implementing functional family planning programmes and campaigns.
Blow to occupation
22 Jul, 2024

Blow to occupation

THE International Court of Justice has delivered a legal blow to the decades-old Israeli occupation of Palestinian...
Seeking Priya Kumari
22 Jul, 2024

Seeking Priya Kumari

PRIYA Kumari — the minor girl who vanished on Ashura in 2021 while serving water at a sabeel in Sukkur district ...