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.
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.
Dharmaajika - Buddhist monastery #
Jandial - Greek temple#
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.