TAXILA: Archaeologists have discovered antiquities apparently belonging to the ancient Buddhist site Bhir Mound, also known as the first city of Taxila valley civilisation which was abandoned between the first century BC and the second century AD by Bactarian Greeks who were the last inhabitants of the city.
The discoveries of potsherds and other terracotta were made accidently during the construction of an outer wall of the multipurpose auditorium which is under construction at the archeological museum Taxila complex.
However, the department of archaeology and museums failed to carry out a salvage operation before giving approval for the construction of the auditorium at the site where remains of ancient Gandhara civilisation are still buried. The auditorium is being constructed at a cost of Rs25 million and expected to complete during the current fiscal year.
Talking to Dawn, deputy director department of archaeology and museums Mohammad Iqbal Manj confirmed the discovery of potsherds and other terracotta items. He said broken pieces of pottery and bowls in intact condition were found accidently.
He said soon after the discoveries of terra cotta the department suspended the construction work and secured the area. Subsequently, a four-member excavation team was formed by the director general of the department, Ilyas Gill, led by renowned archaeologist Mohammad Hassan Khokhar who served as the curator, archaeological museum Harappa for almost a decade.
He said the team would further make excavations and carry out salvage operations to probe any further discovery.
Responding to a question, he said the discovery was “evidence of presence of antiquities” at the particular location in the museum compound.
The team leader of the archaeologists, Muhammad Hassan Khokhar, told Dawn that the discovery of terra cotta was evidence of human settlements in the ancient site. He said he was optimistic about some major, extraordinary and exclusive discoveries at the location after finding the two terra cotta bowls which are mostly used by monks for palms. He said initial investigation of these discoveries showed that they belonged to the later age of the first city of Taxila and dated back to the second century AD.
According to the archeologists, the Bhir Mound archaeological remains represent one stage of the historic city of Taxila.
The first town in Taxila was situated in the Hathial mound in the southwest corner of the Sirkap site. It lasted from the late second millennium BC until the Achaemenid period, with the Achaemenid period remains located in its mound.
The Bhir Mound site represents the second city of Taxila, beginning in the pre-Achaemenid period and lasting till the early Hellenistic period.
Bhir Mound, along with several others nearby excavations, forms part of the Ruins of Taxila inscribed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1980.
Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2021