In Swat, a region in the mountain periphery of Gandhara, archaeology has long confirmed the existence of a monumental phase of Hindu architecture from the 8th to 14th centuries, in a period that is also characterized by the extensive reintroduction of Sanskrit and the Brahmi-Sarada script. The first important set of inscriptions was documented in Laghman, Gandhara (and Swat), and in the Punjab, dating to a period starting from the 8th century. However, thanks to finds of manuscripts dated to the early centuries of the Common Era in the region of Gandhara, it is now evident that the use of Sanskrit not only predates this period but cannot be linked solely to the presence and practice of Hinduism. 4 A much-neglected theme that continues to be ignored is the multicultural milieu of Gandhara, where Buddhism was one of many religions practised. Evidence of Hindu practices earlier than the architecture which is the focus of this contribution are not only quantitatively relevant (terracotta fi gurines, seals, sculptures) but also extremely eloquent, as we will see. Coming to the period which is the focus of this contribution, temples coeval to the Medieval Brahmi-Sarada inscriptions were documented from the late 19th century in and around Gandhara, on the banks of the Indus River and on the cliffs of the Salt Range. Archaeological research was also undertaken in eastern Afghanistan, where a Sahi temple (7th–10th centuries CE) was found at Khair-khana, now a northwestern suburb of Kabul, in the 1930s. Ruins of temples were surveyed in the Kunar valley (northeastern Afghanistan, close to the border with the Pakistani district of Bajaur). Between 700 and 1000 CE Barikot became a major Sahi centre with palatial and cultic structures. At that time the site, known in earlier Greek and Latin sources as Bazira/Beira, is mentioned as Vajirasthana in a Brahmi-Sarada inscription, now in the Lahore Museum, dated to the reign of Jayapaladeva (964–1002 CE). Among the material remains is a large Hindu temple, constructed on a monumental terrace previously built for a Buddhist sacred area. According to archaeological evidence, the temple was built during the Turki-Sahi phase (c. 700 CE), and further added on to under the later dynasty of the Hindu-Sahi. It was demolished after a Ghaznavid military settlement was established at the site. The archaeological evidence hints at a complex religious stratigraphy where Hindu elements overlap the Buddhist ones, but both survive tocthe later Islamic phase. Initial excavations started in 1998–2000 and were later resumed in 2019 (are still in progress). The main temple has been almost completely exposed along with large portions of the upper citadel. In addition to the excavations, surface documentation led to the location of three more Hindu temples, all belonging to the Sahi cultural phase. One temple was documented at Zalamkot at the gates of the Swat valley along an ancient road. A second temple was reported at Manyar (near Barikot) and a third one in the Talash valley, not far from the junction between Swat and Panjkora rivers. The existence of more temples can be hypothesized from sporadic fi ndings of architectural pieces throughout the area. Sahi temples were part of a vaster and more complex landscape that included a series of outstanding ruins of palaces, castles, and watchtowers, 16 belonging to the late Hindu-Sahi phases, which were also documented, but only partly excavated, in the surrounding territory.

Temples of Swat. The Śāhi archaeological landscape of Barikot

Luca Maria Olivieri
2022-01-01

Abstract

In Swat, a region in the mountain periphery of Gandhara, archaeology has long confirmed the existence of a monumental phase of Hindu architecture from the 8th to 14th centuries, in a period that is also characterized by the extensive reintroduction of Sanskrit and the Brahmi-Sarada script. The first important set of inscriptions was documented in Laghman, Gandhara (and Swat), and in the Punjab, dating to a period starting from the 8th century. However, thanks to finds of manuscripts dated to the early centuries of the Common Era in the region of Gandhara, it is now evident that the use of Sanskrit not only predates this period but cannot be linked solely to the presence and practice of Hinduism. 4 A much-neglected theme that continues to be ignored is the multicultural milieu of Gandhara, where Buddhism was one of many religions practised. Evidence of Hindu practices earlier than the architecture which is the focus of this contribution are not only quantitatively relevant (terracotta fi gurines, seals, sculptures) but also extremely eloquent, as we will see. Coming to the period which is the focus of this contribution, temples coeval to the Medieval Brahmi-Sarada inscriptions were documented from the late 19th century in and around Gandhara, on the banks of the Indus River and on the cliffs of the Salt Range. Archaeological research was also undertaken in eastern Afghanistan, where a Sahi temple (7th–10th centuries CE) was found at Khair-khana, now a northwestern suburb of Kabul, in the 1930s. Ruins of temples were surveyed in the Kunar valley (northeastern Afghanistan, close to the border with the Pakistani district of Bajaur). Between 700 and 1000 CE Barikot became a major Sahi centre with palatial and cultic structures. At that time the site, known in earlier Greek and Latin sources as Bazira/Beira, is mentioned as Vajirasthana in a Brahmi-Sarada inscription, now in the Lahore Museum, dated to the reign of Jayapaladeva (964–1002 CE). Among the material remains is a large Hindu temple, constructed on a monumental terrace previously built for a Buddhist sacred area. According to archaeological evidence, the temple was built during the Turki-Sahi phase (c. 700 CE), and further added on to under the later dynasty of the Hindu-Sahi. It was demolished after a Ghaznavid military settlement was established at the site. The archaeological evidence hints at a complex religious stratigraphy where Hindu elements overlap the Buddhist ones, but both survive tocthe later Islamic phase. Initial excavations started in 1998–2000 and were later resumed in 2019 (are still in progress). The main temple has been almost completely exposed along with large portions of the upper citadel. In addition to the excavations, surface documentation led to the location of three more Hindu temples, all belonging to the Sahi cultural phase. One temple was documented at Zalamkot at the gates of the Swat valley along an ancient road. A second temple was reported at Manyar (near Barikot) and a third one in the Talash valley, not far from the junction between Swat and Panjkora rivers. The existence of more temples can be hypothesized from sporadic fi ndings of architectural pieces throughout the area. Sahi temples were part of a vaster and more complex landscape that included a series of outstanding ruins of palaces, castles, and watchtowers, 16 belonging to the late Hindu-Sahi phases, which were also documented, but only partly excavated, in the surrounding territory.
The Routledge Handbook of Hindu Temples Materiality, Social History and Practice
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
Rev_15040-4169d-1pass-014-r01 Luca.pdf

non disponibili

Tipologia: Documento in Pre-print
Licenza: Accesso chiuso-personale
Dimensione 8.59 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
8.59 MB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in ARCA sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5011041
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact