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Barikot (Urdu: بریکوٹ), the ancient Bazira of Alexander the Great, is a city located in the south end of the Swat valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. It is about 20 km (12 mi) away from Mingora and from Butkara. It is the entrance town to Swat valley with a population of 25,000 approximately. The Italian Archaeological Mission (renamed ISMEO), founded by Giuseppe Tucci has been excavating ruins of the ancient town of Bazira under Barikot since 1984.
The expeditions in the 1980s and 90s discovered an Indo-Greek town from around the time of King Menander I in the 2nd century BC. Beginning in 2011, an excavation in the south west corner of the site discovered several older settlements. One pre-Indo-Greek level was dated to the mid 3rd century BC or in the middle of the Mauryan era. An earlier town was probably destroyed after it was conquered by Alexander the Great during the 4th century BC. Near Bazira a village of the Gandhara grave culture from the 7th to 8th century BC has also been discovered. The oldest layer under Barikot was a village which has been dated to 1000-1100 BC.
The 2nd century BC town covered an area of about 12 ha (30 acres) (including the acropolis or about 7 ha (17 acres) without)at its peak. It was surrounded by a defensive wall with massive rectangular bastions. The excavations have discovered a number of artifacts which document the daily life of the residents, including coins, pottery and weapons. Several large artifacts including, a large green-schist statue of Siddhartha Buddha riding his horse Kanthaka and a carving of a stupa with two lions, document the Buddhist history of Bazira. Another statue depicting an unknown deity sitting on a throne, with long, curled hair, holding a wine goblet and a severed goat head in his hands may represent Dionysus, the Greek god of wine or another local deity.
Under the Kushan Empire it grew into a major town before a series of earthquakes in the 3rd century AD devastated it. Probably due to the damage from the earthquakes as well as the decline of the Kushan Empire, Bazira was abandoned by the end of the 3rd century.
- Archaeological site notice
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- "Pakistan unearths the city defeated by Alexander the Great". AGI - Agenzia Giornalistica Italia (in Italian). 16 August 2016. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
- Khaliq, Fazal (26 June 2016). "Archaeologists discover layers of Indo-Greek city in Swat". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
- Khaliq, Fazal (24 May 2015). "Swat's archaeological sites: a victim of neglect". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
- Jarus, Owen (29 April 2016). "Buddhist Sculptures Discovered in Ruins of Ancient Shrine". Live Science. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
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- Report of the Italian Archaeological Mission (Pdf, Italian)
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