unbekannter Gast

Taxila#

by Hermann Maurer, January 2017

General#

Taxila Taxila is a town and an important archaeological site situated about 32 km north-west of Islamabad. Owing to its strategic location (on a road that links with the Silk Raod, connecting China with the West), Taxila has changed hands many times over the centuries, with many empires vying for its control. Its history is twisted to an extent that only a simplified version is presented here.

Taxila
Ruins of Bhir Mound
Photo: Dawoodmajoka, Wikicommons, under PD
Taxila first became famous as a center of teaching at at time when Gandhara was under the control of the Persain Archemenid empire in the 6 th century BC. However, some excavated pieces have been carbon dated from much earlier periods like 3.000 BC.

The locally considered first city at Taxila is found on the "Bhir Mound" just south of the modern museum (see below). (In fact, archeologists have located an even earlier urban site dating back to 1000 BC on the opposite site of the Tamra rivulet, yet there is much more to see on the Bhir Mound that conists of a nubmer of "layers" correspondig to developmetns descirbed below. The ruins of the town form an irregular shape measuring around 1 km from north to south and about 600 meters from east to west. The oldest part or layer of these ruins is from the sixth and fifth centuries BC. They are believed to be the remains of Persian/Achaemenid Taxila. (The second layer is from the fourth century BC and existed at the time of the invasion of Alexander the Great. The third layer is from the time of the Maurya kings of India (third century BC). The fourth and topmost layer contains the constructions from time after the Mauryan period.)

In 326 BC – Alexander the Great receives submission of the ruler of Taxila. Greek historians accompanying Alexander described Taxila as “wealthy, prosperous, and well governed.” However, Alexander and his army were just passing through on their way to India.

Around 320 BC Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Mauryan empire, makes himself master of northern and north-western India, including Panjab. Under Chandragupta, Taxila became a provincial capital. During the reign of Chandragupta's grandson Aśoka, Taxila became a great Buddhist centre of learning. Ashoka encouraged trade by building roads, most notably a highway of more than 1,600 kilometers linking his capital Pataliputra Taxila, Pataliputra with Taxila. It reached its first heights between the 1 st and 5 th century AD as a center for Buddhism.

After three generations of Maurya rule, Taxila was annexed by the Indo-Greek kingdom of Bactria in the 2 nd centruy BC. Indo-Greeks built a new capital, Sirkap. With many interesting excavations.

The city was destroyed by nomadic Huns in the mid 5 th century AD, and plunged into further decline due to quarrels of nobility in the 6 th and 7 th century. When the great ancient trade routes ceased to be important, the city sank into insignificance. The renowned archaeologist Sir Alexander Cunningham rediscovered the ruins of Taxila in the mid-19th century. In 1980, Taxila was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2006 it was ranked as one of the top tourist destination in Pakistan. Taxila is certainly one of the most impotatn archeological excavations in all oa Asia. Despite all destructions a number of wonderful sites and an impressive museum can still be visited today.

Sirkap, the second city#

Sirkap is also close to the modern museum just 1.5 km north. The present layout was established by the Bactrian Greeks aourn 180 BC. It is a wide open grid system with a main street running north to south, crossed a right angles by many lanes, dividing the city into neat blocks. it is surrounded by a 5 km long wall that is up to 6 m thick. The city was buitl in what is believed seven phases, the first one probably pre-Bactrian.
Taxila
Entrance of Sirkap, one of the four UNESCO world heritage sites near Taxila
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Sirkap main road
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2012, under PD
Taxila
Excavations at Sirkap
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2012, under PD
Taxila
Excavation at Sirkap
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Remnants of the Shrine of the Double Headed Eagle
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
The author having a closer look at the Double Headed Eagle.
Photo: Tanvir Afzal with camer of Hermann Maurer, 2012, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Part of the Sun Temple. The shadow of a person standing in the center falls into one of the segments, indicating the approximate time
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Part of the former palace
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0

Dharmaajika - Buddhist monastery #

Taxila
Entrance to the monastery area. It was only used for religious ceremonies, the only men living here were Buddhist monks and their studenst. The actual city was at about one kilometer distance.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Impressive remnants of Buddhist stupa
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Impressive remnants of Buddhist stupa
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Impressive remnants of Buddhist stupa
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Impressive remnants of Buddhist stupa
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Photo: Remains of monastery
Photo: franek2, Wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Other view of monastery area
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0

Jandial - Greek temple#

Taxila
Other view of monastery area
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Jandial temple. The bottom of old greek-style columns are impressive. The rest was destroyed by the Huns, the walls are from a later period
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Base of Greek columns
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
View of one of the antiroom of the temple from the back, looking outside
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0

The modern Taxila museum#

The museum was opened for public in 1928. Sir John Marshall who was going to be retired from the post of Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India in 1928, but could not complete its original plan. The northern gallery of the museum was added at a later stage.

There are some 4000 objects displayed, including stone, stucco, terracotta, silver, gold, iron and semiprecious stones. The display concentrates on objects from the period 600 B.C to 500 AD. Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religions are well represented through these objects discovered in the region. Ordinary house-hold items are also shown.

Taxila
Taxila Museum Entrance
Photo: Khalid Mahmood, 2011, in Wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Museum entrance with the author and two of the authors best friends
Photo: with camera Hermann Maurer, 2012, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Picture of Sir John Marshall immediately inside the museum. He was responsible for much of the early excavations and the establishment of the museum
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Marrriage Procession of Sidhartha, Ram Das Collection, 1 st- 2 nd century AD
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
First sermon of Buddha
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Buddha in Meditation
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Mural Paintings of Buddha (right upper aprt of picture)
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Precious stones
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Buddha and disciples
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Buddha
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Buddha
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Copper jug
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Measuring scoops
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Terra cotta pieces
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Four spouted jug
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Early plumbing
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
My great host professor and dear friend Dr. Tanvir Afzal
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Taxila
Golden couple excavated at Taxila. Not on public display
Photo: National Museum of Taxila, Source Wikicommons, under CC BY-SA 3.0