An ancient wall, palm-sized Buddha head and a sculpture were discovered during digging to create new graves. — Dawn
An ancient wall, palm-sized Buddha head and a sculpture were discovered during digging to create new graves. — Dawn

TAXILA: Archaeological discoveries are bound to open new chapters in history and boost religious tourism in the country.

This was said by Museums Director Dr Abdul Samad on Tuesday while briefing journalists about a newly-discovered site from where a palm-sized Buddha head, an ancient wall and a sculpture was discovered by locals of the area who were excavating a mound to create space for graves.

The site, located near Ghazi in Haripur tehsil, has been preserved for excavation that will be carried out by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Directorate of Archaeology.

The Gandhara-style Buddha sculpture has been carved out of gray schist stone. Both artefacts have been shifted to an archaeological laboratory for technical and digital examination.

“The initial archaeological survey revealed that these remains date back to the 3rd century BC (or possibly the fifth) and was built and preached for Buddhism during the Kushan rule.The whole region was once the centre of Buddhist civilisation that took root under the Mauryan king Ashoka 2,300 years ago,” Dr Samad said.

The site is of great importance and therefore it should be excavated for further discoveries and preservation as it seems that it fortunately remained safe from illegal treasure hunters and excavators, he added.

Sub regional officer of the archaeology department (Hazara) Nawazuddin said the site was surveyed by officials of the department, who recommended further excavation that was likely to begin in a few days.

“The site is of great importance and needs to be excavated for further discoveries and proper preservation,” he added.

Site supervisor Raja Adnan said the archaeology department, during an operation, recovered a 2,000-year-old statue of Buddha from the possession of a man from Sultanpur village.

He said the department received information about the statue and devised a plan to stop trafficking of it and reclaim it with the support of local police.

It may be recalled here that a team of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Directorate of Archaeology and Museums led by Dr Samad recovered a 1,700-year-old sleeping Buddha statue which dated back to the 3rd century.

Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2022

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