Jamal Garhi (Pakistan): Excavation unearths new discoveries

Excavation at Jamal Garhi ruins unearths new discoveries

Syed Inayat Ali Shah

Source -  http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-106079-Excavation-at-Jamal-Garhi-ruins-unearths-new-discoveries


A team of archaeologists conducting fresh excavation at the ancient ruins in Jamal Garhi in Mardan district made new discoveries in the last two months, experts working on the project said Saturday.

Talking to reporters, Dr Zainul Wahab, professor of Archaeology at the Hazara University and field director of the excavation project at the Jamal Garhi ruins, said they had discovered coins, head of Buddha, five rooms, a sculpture plate and the traces of a lake during the recent excavation and following research analysis.

Highlighting the importance of the coins, he said these belonged to the era of the Kushan king, Huvishka and probably dated back to the 158-195 AD. He said that on the coins King Huvishka was seated with a pillow on one side while on the reverse side of the coin, Miro, the god of sun, was radiating. He said the head of Buddha unearthed during the excavation had stylish hair carved by the sculptors of the time.

Regarding the discovery of the five rooms, he said their structures were two-storey, giving the idea that these were built in two different eras in the ancient times. Dr Zainul Wahab informed that a sculpture plate unearthed depicted that the king was presenting a gift to Buddha while courteous musicians engraved on the plate were seen beating the drums. He added it was a unique discovery in recent times at any archaeological site in the region.

To a query, he said they were expecting more discoveries as the work was still in progress. He said they had discovered three letters in the Kharoshti script engraved on fragment of terra cotta and there was probability of finding the complete script in the language from the ruins.

Kharoshti was an ancient Indic script in which Gandhari language, a dialect of Prakirt and Sanskrit language, was written in the current Indo-Pak region in the ancient past. He informed that they had discovered around 80 fragments of stones and were expecting to find further material during the excavation.

Explaining the new research analysis project, Dr Zain said the site was first excavated in 1873 and it was one of the richest Buddhist sites in terms of findings. However, he said due to lack of archaeological knowledge and research methodology most of the valuable information and history regarding the ruins remained concealed.

Illegal excavations for more than a century had robbed the Jamal Garhi complex of its precious antiquities in large numbers, he said. He said it was in December 2011 that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and the Archaeology Department headed by Dr Shah Nazar felt the need for renewed excavation at the Jamal Garhi site.

He added that a team of experts comprising noted archaeologists along with the students of archaeology started work on the project in March 2012. He said the map of the site was extended to encompass more information for the archaeologists, researchers and students.

He lauded the efforts of Dr Shah Nazar, director Archaeology Department, and Secretary Jamaluddin Shah for their personal interest in unearthing the hidden treasures of the Buddhist civilisation and add to the human knowledge about the bygone era in the historical Mardan region.