SWAT: International archaeologists on Tuesday claimed to have discovered an ancient pottery kiln and ruins of a stupa at the ancient Bazira city in Swat.
The excavation campaign in Baizra city of Barikot, known as the city of Alexander, was initiated by Italian Archaeological Mission in collaboration with department of archaeology.
The archeologists said that the recent excavation was of immense importance because they unearthed a Buddhist stupa and a pottery kiln.
“The importance of the excavation is two-fold as we have excavated a new stupa, belonging to the Huna period. The second important factor of the excavation is the discovery of a big kiln of ceramic production along with different pits,” said Alice Caprioli, a PhD scholar at the University of Chicago, who was part of the excavation campaign.
Excavation team says unearthing of pottery kiln and stupa bears immense importance
She said that they excavated pits where the raw clay was decanted before using it for production of ceramics. She said that the excavation was under way on the southern side of the ancient city where they reached the Indo-Greek period.
Ms Caprioli said that Swat was like a paradise for archaeologists, especially for those who studied Buddhist or Gandharan art and archaeology.
“Swat is a significant region where we can find various currents and fractions of Buddhism, created here and then spread worldwide. Swat is a fundamental location for Buddhist history,” she said. She added that coming to Swat was a dream for her and she would try to come again and again.
Senior archaeologists said that discovering pottery kilns in Gandharan region was very rare as there were only a few examples of such kind of discoveries.
“In Peshawar, a small pottery workshop was earlier excavated by the University of Peshawar belonging to the Indo-Greek period. Here we have found a larger pottery kiln dated to Saka Parthian period, the mid-first century BCE to the beginning of the first century of the current era,” said Dr Luca Maria Olivieri. He added that archaeologists also found coins belonging to Indo-Greek and Saka Parthian period.
He said that in terms of pottery techniques and technology, the discovery of the kiln was very important, especially in that part of the world.
The students of Swat University and the University of Foscari, Italy, also participated in the excavation. They said that practical excavation was necessary for archaeology students as they learned firsthand knowledge.
Nasar Khattak, who was working with the team as a representative of the archaeology department, said that the department supported the Italian Archaeological Mission in excavating the site.
“We are happy that the Italian Archeological Mission has been working for a long time in Swat. The provincial government and archaeology department supported it in the past and will support it in the future. The discovery is of great importance and a fresh addition to the archaeological treasure of Pakistan,” he said.
He said that archaeology department was trying to protect and conserve heritage in the province.
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2022