Remains of 2,000-yr-old Buddhist civilization found in Pak’s Khyber province

at 3:32 pm
Khyber province

New Delhi (NVI): A team of archaeologists from Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has discovered 2000-year-old Buddhist fresco paintings in at Abba Saib Chena area in Swat district.

The ancient Buddhist paintings were unearthed by a team of archaeologists from the Directorate of Archeology and Museums, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

During the excavations, they found 1st century AD coins and three fresco paintings. “These paintings are one of the earliest Buddhist fresco so far discovered in ancient Gandhara,” the Directorate said in a January 20 tweet.

Gandhara was an ancient region in the Peshawar basin in the far north-west of the ancient Indian subcontinent, corresponding to present-day north-west Pakistan and north-east Afghanistan. The centre of the region was at the confluence of the Kabul and Swat rivers, bounded by the Sulaiman Mountains on the west and the Indus River on the east.

The conservation and excavation of historical sites in the Khyber district are underway under the World Bank and KP government’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Integrated Tourism Development Project (KITE).

“Archaeological finds at the site will determine their historical significance and steps will be taken to preserve and restore them. @KITEProjectDoT and @KPDOAMOfficial is taking steps to promote religious tourism in tribal districts of KP,” the KITE project’s said in a January 15 tweet.

As per the Khyber Tourism Department, for the first time in the history of the tribal districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, steps are being taken to preserve the historical sites in the tribal districts and the work of preservation and restoration is in full swing.

Notably, several Buddhist sculptures, rock paintings and remains have been discovered in Pakistan but the Pakistani government has failed to protect these historical treasures from religious fanatics and such groups.

In one such instance, an ancient Buddha statue discovered in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Mardan district was smashed into pieces by local construction workers in July last year.

They discovered the statue while digging the foundation for a house. Mardan’s Takht Bhai area was once part of the Gandhara civilization.

A video has gone viral on social media in which the construction workers can be seen smashing the Buddha statue using a sledgehammer while expressing their anger against the old relic.