The remains of a 2,300-year-old Buddhist temple have been discovered in northwest Pakistan along with several other Buddhist artifacts by a joint team of Pakistani and Italian archaeologists. Archaeologists from the Italian archaeological mission known as ISMEO have excavated the ruins of the city of Bazira dating from the Buddhist period at Barikot tehsil of Swat district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in collaboration with archaeologists from Pakistan. A few days ago, the Italian Mission also had announcement the discovery of a Shahi Vishnuite temple in its entirety at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
A senior official said: “Pakistani and Italian archaeologists during joint excavations at a historic site have uncovered a Buddhist period apsidal temple over 2,300 years old in northwest Pakistan, in addition to recovering other valuable artifacts. The temple discovered in Swat is even older than the temples discovered in Taxila, remnants of Pakistan. The temple is said to be the oldest Buddhist temple in Pakistan.
Around 2,700 ancient artifacts from the Buddhist period, including coins, rings, pots and writings of the Kharosthi language from the period of the Greek king Menander, were discovered during the excavations.
Andreas Ferrarese, Italian Ambassador to Pakistan, informed that the archaeological sites in Pakistan were of great importance for the different religions of the world.
Notably, Italian archaeologist Luca M. Olivieri had earlier said that a series of robber pits had also been explored at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and that the excavations had revealed a Buddhist monument which had survived the vandalism of robbers. About another excavation at Barikot which was carried out in November 2021, Olivieri said: “We discovered a row of tombs of unknown age and other archaeological features. These tombs contain potsherds and other rare finds that may date back (typologically and tentatively) to the Indo-Greek and Saka-Parthian period.
Italian experts have expressed confidence that more archaeological sites will be uncovered during excavations in the historic town of Bazira in Swat district. Dr. Abdus Samad, director of the museum and archeology, said the town of Bazira in Barikot Swat is older than Taxila. Doctoral students from top Italian universities and archeology departments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa participated in the excavations of these sites.
Dr. Samad informed that the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had purchased fourteen archaeological sites, where excavations were ongoing.