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Oldest Buddhist Apsidal Temple of Country Found in Swat

August 8, 2023

SWAT: In the Bazira area of the Barikot tehsil in Swat, archaeologists have uncovered Pakistan’s oldest Buddhist apsidal temple.

In cooperation with the regional department of archaeology and museums, archaeologists from Ca’ Foscari University and the Italian Archaeological Mission found the site.

Andreas Ferrarese, the ambassador of Italy to Pakistan, expressed his delight at the fact that Italian archaeologists were also involved in the recent find to Dawn.

Finding a connection between Italian and Pakistani archaeology is really impressive. It demonstrates how globalization existed even in antiquity, as seen by the remarkable exchange of cultural and religious skills and ideas. We discover that we have a future together the more we look into the past, he remarked.

The director of the Italian Mission, Prof. Luca M. Olivieri claims that the foundation of the Buddhist sacred building can be dated to the Mauryan era, most likely to the third century BC.

They discovered an existing structure built during the Mauryan period at the time of Ashoka when the Greeks arrived and refortified the city of Bazira, which they were familiar with from the time of Alexander the Great.

The monument was improved and continued in use for centuries until the third and fourth centuries, when it was eventually abandoned as the Kushan city of Bazira was destroyed by an earthquake. This all happened following King Menander’s reign in the middle of the second century.

“This is an incredibly significant discovery since it confirms a brand-new architectural style for a Buddhist building in Gandhara. There is only one other instance of an apsidal temple in a city, and that is at Sirkap, Taxila.

Prof. Luca noted that the Bazira apsidal temple represents the first known instance of this style of building in Pakistan.

He said that the latest discovery was ground-breaking since it demonstrated the existence of Buddhists in Swat as early as the third century.

The discovery supports the theory that Menander, an Indo-Greek king, and his successors sponsored Buddhism.

In addition to the apsidal temple, a four-meter-tall monument that was well-preserved, archaeologists also discovered one of the old city’s main roadways and one of the city’s gates.

We discovered coins, including a silver specimen issued by King Menander, an onyx-made seal decorated with a Hellenistic intaglio showing the likeness of a young man dressed in Greek attire with a Kharosthi inscription, a monumental Kharosthi epigraph, numerous other Kharosthi inscriptions on pots, and pottery from the Indo-Greek cultural horizon, including fish-shaped potsherds.

Read More: Buddhism: 11 Common Misunderstandings and Mistakes

“Plates and polished black pottery that mimics Attic models were found,” added Dr. Michele Minardi of Italy.

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