Relics dating back 3,000 years from Alexander era discovered in Swat

PESHAWAR   –  Authorities have discovered a drainage system and other relics that were part of Bazira city from the Alexander era in Barikot area of Swat district.

Talking to The Nation, Prof Dr Luca M Olivieri (Sitara-i-Imtiaz), Director of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan (ISMEO-Ca’ Foscari University of Venice), said that from Alexander’s conquest of Bazira, the ancient city later known as Vajirasthana, now Barikot in Swat, there are traces of the fortified rampart and part of the moat that still remain.

He said more ancient traces (not considering the Bronze Age and later Iron Age village: 1700-800 BC), point to the foundation of the city in the middle of the first millennium when the region was a nominal part of the Persian (Achaemenid) satrapy of Gandhara (Gadara). The earliest records of Buddhism in the city date back to the Saka-Parthian period, i.e. the 1st century BC.

“Excavation in Barikot began in 1977 with a few soundings and then in 1984 with increasingly extensive excavations. Today about a tenth of the ancient city has been explored including the Vishnuite temple on the acropolis, and the Shahi fortress conquered by the Ghaznavids in the 11th century,” he added.

Dr Luca M Olivieri said that significance of Barikot is of utmost importance in the archaeology of Pakistan and the north-west of the Subcontinent.

“The very detailed and regularly published excavation represents an important reference for archaeologists and historians. In fact, the KP government two years ago rewarded the efforts of many years by acquiring a third of the ancient archaeological site for future exploration and opening to tourism.

Director Archaeology and Museums Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Abdul Samad Khan said that Bazera city from the Alexander era had been discovered for the first time around 40 years ago. However, the Archaeology Department, Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan carry out digging each year and new discoveries emerge in the process.

“This year, drainage system and water tank of the ancient city has been discovered,” he added.

“We have working on a development plan and have also taken possession of the surrounding land of the archaeological site; these relics are older than Taxila,” he said.

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