2,300-year-old Buddhist temple discovered in northwest Pakistan


The remains of a 2,300-year-old Buddhist temple were unearthed in northwest Pakistan along with several other Buddhist artefacts by a joint team of Pakistani and Italian archaeologists. Archaeologists from the Italian archaeological mission known as ISMEO have excavated the ruins of the Buddhist-period town of Bazira at Barikot tehsil in the district of Swat in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, together with archaeologists from Pakistan. A few days ago, the Italian Mission also announced the discovery of an entire Shahi Vishnuite temple in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

A senior official said: “Pakistani and Italian archaeologists during joint excavations at historic site have uncovered more than 2,300 years of Buddhist period apsidal temple in northwest Pakistan in addition to recovering other valuable artifacts. . The temple discovered in Swat is even older than the temples discovered in Taxila, vestiges of Pakistan. The temple is said to be the oldest Buddhist temple in Pakistan.

About 2,700 ancient artefacts from the Buddhist period, including coins, rings, jars, and Kharosthi language scriptures from the period of Greek King Menander, have been unearthed during the excavations.

Andreas Ferrarese, Ambassador of Italy 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 thieves ‘pits had also been explored at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and that excavations revealed a Buddhist monument that had survived the thieves’ vandalism. Regarding another excavation at Barikot which was carried out in November 2021, Olivieri said: “We have discovered a row of tombs of unknown age and other archaeological features. These tombs contain shards of pottery and other rare finds that could date (typologically and preliminary) to the Indo-Greek and Saka-Parthian period.

Italian experts have expressed confidence that more archaeological sites will be discovered during excavations in the historic town of Bazira in the district of Swat. Dr Abdus Samad, director of the museum and archeology, said the town of Bazira in Barikot Swat is older than Taxila remains. Doctoral students from the best Italian universities and from the archaeological departments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa participated in the excavations of these sites.

Dr Samad informed that the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has purchased fourteen archaeological sites, where excavations are underway.


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