Archaeologists unearth major Buddhist settlement in Pakistan

ANI, March 11, 2005

Islamabad, Pakistan -- Officials from Pakistan's Department of Archaeology and Museums have unearthed an entire Buddhist settlement at Takht Bhai in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.

According to The News, the newly discovered ridge contains residential houses for monks, with the entire settlement comprised of ten houses having a special structure. The layout includes two storey buildings with each having a courtyard and two rooms built in them on a separate platform. Also all the houses are connected with each other through stairs, with each having stairs to its upper storey on the backside of the building. Each house also has a stupa built outside it.

Abdul Azim, the assistant director department of Archaeology and Museum and site in charge, said that a new ridge of Gandhara Art relics have been unearthed during fresh excavations at the historic religious sites at Takht Bhai. Many sculptures and other remains have also been found during the excavations and include statues of Buddha, sculptures of elephants, lions and other animals, water containers, tools used for weight lifting, lamps and decoration pieces.

Officials further add that many of these monuments, most of which are still in fragmentary condition, have been stored at a secret and well-protected room on the site, to be later displayed at the museum to be built on the site.

Experts believe that some of the sculptures, which have been found fixed on walls and stupas, would be preserved the way they were found.

"We cannot even touch them at present as they are in very delicate condition and a mere touching of hand may cause damages to them," the paper quoted Azim as saying.

He further added that most of the structure was buried under its own debris.