MINGORA: Archaeologists have claimed to have made new discoveries that show that Bazira area in Barikot, Swat was a living city even before the arrival of Alexander to the region in 326-327 BC.

The experts, working at Pak-Italian Debt Swap Agreement (ACT) project, said that the discoveries changed the old theory of Gandhara grave culture. They made the claim after the recent discovery of about 3,500-year-old fallen building during excavation at Bazira by Italian and Pakistani archaeologists, led by Dr Luca M Olivieri.

It should be called Late Bronze Age, Swat Culture, said Massimo Vidale, professor of archaeology at University of Padowa, Italy. He has been working in Swat since 2000 in the Italian Mission and with ACT project.

“I am very excited to get new results in the recent excavation at Bazira as it led to change the historical process of the ancient city,” he added.


Archaeologists say excavation leads to change old theory of Gandhara grave culture


According to the old theories, Gandhara grave culture was featured by small rural settlements and extensive graveyards. “We are here between the end of the Bronze Age and Iron Age, meaning about 4,000 years ago and this is what the archaeologists used to call the grave culture of Gandhara. Now it is time to change that notion as this is not a grave culture because it is the culture of large settlements,” said Massimo Vidale.

He said that Bazira was a big city not only at the time of Alexander the Great but also long before him. “It shows that even 3,000 years ago it was already an important city where, probably, more than 10,000 people lived,” he added.

About the recent excavation at Bazira, he said that they excavated a big building about 3,000 to 3,500 years old. “The remnants of the building show that a huge earthquake destroyed the city of Bazira. It was about 1,000 years later that the city was reconstructed,” he added.

Elisa Iori of Bologna University said that during the last season of excavation, the archaeologists made some very important findings related to the Indo-Greek (2nd BCE) and Mauryan period (3rd BCE).

“We found three inscriptions. Two inscriptions are in Brahmi [one bears a name with title] and the second one is the Greek inscription which refers to the first part of a name of someone,” she added.

She said that below the Indo-Greek occupation they found Maurya occupation and important evidence like the terracotta figurines known as “Baroque Ladies” which were found also in Charsadda and Bhir Mound, Taxila. Also archaeologists found an important coin belonging to Chandragupta, who was one of the most important kings of the Mauryan dynasty.

Below the Mauryan phase, she said, they found some pottery typical of the Achaemenian period [tulip-bowls], which were also very important evidence attesting it a satrapy of Iranian rule, known as “Gandara” in 5th and 4th century BCE.

Dr Luca Maria Olivieri said that it was the third sherd, inscribed with Greek letters, found at Bazira. “All were found in Indo-Greek layers [2nd century BCE]. Two bear names, one a single letter. Another sherd with Greek inscription was found in the Indo-Greek layers at Ora [Udegram] in the late fifties of the last century,” he told Dawn.

Dr Luca said that the Greek inscriptions found in Bazira and Ora were the easternmost evidence of Greek script ever found.

Niaz Ali Shah, from the department of archaeology, said that the new excavation at Bazira was really important as it traced not only the Mauryan layers bus also pre-Mauryan layers and Achaemenid layers with ample evidence. He said that they also found seed of rice and wheat during the excavation.

Published in Dawn October 5th, 2016

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