The ruins of Bhir Mound, Taxila, Pakistan
The Bhir Mound (Urdu: بھڑ ماونڈ) is an archaeological site in Taxila in the Punjab province of Pakistan. It contains some of the oldest ruins of Ancient Taxila, dating from the 4th century BCE. Bhir Mound, along with several other nearby excavations, form part of the Ruins of Taxila – inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
The Bhir Mound archaeological remains represent one stage of the historic city of Taxila. The first town in Taxila was situated in the Hathial mound in the southwest corner of the Sirkap site. It lasted from the late second millennium BCE until the Achaemenid period, with the Achaemenid period remains located in its Mound B. The Bhir Mound site represents the second city of Taxila, beginning in the late Achaemenid period and lasting till the early Hellenistic period. The levels I and II are believed to contain the remains from the 1st and 2nd centuries BCE and the levels III and IV the remains from the 3rd and 4th centuries BCE. A third site at Sirkap represents the third stage of Taxila, which is an Indo-Greek city with a Hellenistic town plan.
The ruins of Bhir Mound were excavated from 1913-1925 by Sir John Marshall. The work was continued by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in 1944-1945 and by Dr. Mohammad Sharif in 1966-1967. Further excavations were performed in 1998-2000 by Bahadur Khan and in 2002 by Dr. Ashraf and Mahmud-al-Hassan.
Marshall came to the Bhir Mound project from earlier work in Athens, expecting very much to find a Greek city in Taxila. Klaus Karttunen says that he became more objective later on, but scholars mention various problems with his results. In his report, Marshall proposed that the Bhir Mound city of Taxila was founded by Darius I as the capital of the Achaemenid province of Hindush. Scholar David Fleming says that the identification was based on 'classical sources and a frankly pro-western bias'. The excavations were conducted without much regard to stratigraphic recording, and the pottery finds were published in such a manner as to preclude a detailed analysis.
The results of Mortimer Wheeler's excavations were never published. Later excavations by Mohammad Sharif were done more carefully with regard to chronological considerations, and they form the basis for the modern assessments.
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 streets of the city show that they were narrow and the house plans were very irregular. There is little evidence of planning - most of the streets are very haphazard. The houses had no windows to the outside. They opened towards inner courtyards. The courtyard was open and 15 to 20 rooms were arranged around it.
John Marshall stated, based on his excavations during 1913–1934, that heavy masonry of the Achaemenid buildings formed the earliest stratum of the Bhir Mound site. He believed that Taxila formed part of the 20th satrapy of Darius I (called Hinduš by the Persians or Indos by the Greeks). This claim was considered dubious by several scholars. and it is invalidated by the current dating of the Bhir Mound site as beginning in c. 400 BCE. Other scholars doubt if Taxila ever belonged to the Achaemenid Empire.
In 326 BCE, Alexander the Great came and conquered the area. Raja Ambhi, it is recorded, entertained the Greek king here. He surrendered to Alexander and offered him a body of soldiers mounted on elephants. In 316 BCE, Chandragupta of Magadha, the founder of the Mauryan dynasty, conquered Panjab. Taxila lost its independence and became a mere provincial capital. Still, the city remained extremely important as centre of administration, education and trade. During the reign of Chandragupta's grandson Ashoka, Buddhism became important and the first monks settled in Taxila. Ashoka is said to have resided here as the vice-king of his father. In 184 BCE, the Greeks, who had maintained a kingdom in Bactria, invaded Gandhara and Panjab again. From now on, a Greek king resided in Taxila, Demetrius.
Achaemenid period coin hoard
The Bhir Mound coin hoard has revealed numerous Achaemenid coins as well as several Greek coins from the 5th and 4th centuries BCE which circulated in the area, at least as far as the Indus during the reign of the Achaemenids, who were in control of the areas as far as Gandhara. Many of these coins are similar to the local coins struck in Kabul, and found in the Chaman Hazouri hoard. This is the case in particular for the Achaeminid siglos type of coins of the 5th century, as well as the Gandharan bent-bar punch-marked coins, found in large quantities at Bhir Mound.
Other sites in the area
- Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark (2006), "New Perspectives on the Mauryan and Kushana Periods", in Patrick Olivelle, Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE, Oxford University Press, p. 39, ISBN 978-0-19-977507-1
- Karttunen, Taxila: Indian City and a Stronghold of Hellenism 1990, pp. 88–89.
- Karttunen, Taxila: Indian City and a Stronghold of Hellenism 1990, pp. 89–90.
- Allchin, The Urban Position of Taxila 1993, p. 74.
- Karttunen, Taxila: Indian City and a Stronghold of Hellenism 1990, p. 91.
- Karttunen, Taxila: Indian City and a Stronghold of Hellenism 1990, pp. 86–87.
- Fleming, Where was Achaemenid India? 1993, pp. 68–69.
- Fleming, Where was Achaemenid India? 1993, p. 69.
- Allchin, The Urban Position of Taxila 1993.
- Karttunen, Taxila: Indian City and a Stronghold of Hellenism 1990.
- Bhatti, Muhammad Ilyas (2006). Taxila an ancient metropolis of Gandhara. p. 72.
- Kausch, Anke (2001). Seidenstrasse. p. 300.
- Bhatti, Muhammad Ilyas (2006). Taxila an ancient metropolis of Gandhara. p. 73.
- Marshall, Sir John Hubert (1951), Taxila: An Illustrated Account of Archaeological Excavations, CUP Archive, pp. 12–15, GGKEY:JWYSC7DGQ07
- Pierfrancesco Callieri, India iii. Relations: Achaemenid Period, Encyclopedia Iranica, 15 December 2004.
- Fleming, Where was Achaemenid India? 1993, pp. 68–69: "There was little in his discussion of archaeological material that would support such an identification, and the Elamite evidence was not available to him."
- Karttunen, Taxila: Indian City and a Stronghold of Hellenism 1990: "With a certain geographical recklessness many have supposed, that as an important early centre Taxila must have been the capital of the Indian dominions of the empire. Taxila, however, did not belong to Gandhara proper, which had a more westerly location, and elsewhere I have tried to show how it is well possible that Taxila never belonged to the empire."
- "Livius.org". Archived from the original on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 26 December 2008.
- Bopearachchi & Cribb, Coins illustrating the History of the Crossroads of Asia 1992, pp. 56–57: "Coins of this type found in Chaman Hazouri (deposited c.350 BC) and Bhir Mound hoards (deposited c.300 BC)."
- Marshall, John (1951). Taxila, Vol.III. Bhir Mound coins Plate 234.
- CNG Coins
- Bopearachchi & Cribb, Coins illustrating the History of the Crossroads of Asia 1992, pp. 57–59: "Silver bent-bar punch-marked coin of Kabul region under the Achaemenid Empire, c.350 BC: Coins of this type found in quantity in Chaman Hazouri and Bhir Mound hoards"
- Bopearachchi, Coin Production and Circulation 2000, pp. 300–301
- Bopearachchi & Cribb, Coins illustrating the History of the Crossroads of Asia 1992, pp. 57–59
- Bopearachchi & Cribb, Coins illustrating the History of the Crossroads of Asia 1992, pp. 56–57: Picture of Achaemenid siglos coin (this type of coin) with caption "Coins of this type found in Chaman Hazouri (deposited c.350 BC) and Bhir Mound hoards (deposited c.300 BC)."
- Marshall, Taxila, Volume II 1951, p. 854: "The silver coins were a Persian siglos, tetradrachms of Alexander the Great and of Philip III Aridaeus, thirty-three silver bars with wheel symbols."
- Bopearachchi & Cribb, Coins illustrating the History of the Crossroads of Asia 1992, pp. 56–57: Picture of Gandharan bent-bar punch-marked coin(this type of coin), with caption "Silver bent-bar punch-marked coin of Kabul region under the Achaemenid Empire, c.350 BC: Coins of this type found in quantity in Chaman Hazouri and Bhir Mound hoards"
- Bopearachchi, Coin Production and Circulation 2000, p. 311: "the local coins of the Achaemenid era (...) were the precursors of the bent and punch-marked bars"
- Bopearachchi & Cribb, Coins illustrating the History of the Crossroads of Asia 1992, pp. 57–59: About the hoard in Kabul: "In the same hoard there were also discovered two series of local silver coins which appear to be the product of local Achaemenid administration. One series (...) was made in a new way, which relates it to the punch-marked silver coins of India. It appears that it was these local coins, using technology adapted from Greek coins, which provided the prototypes for punch-marked coins made in India."; "In the territories to the south of the Hindu Kush the punch-marked coins, descendants of the local coins of the Achaemenid administration in the same area, were issued by the Mauryan kings of India for local circulation."
- Carradice, Ian (1987). Coinage and administration in the Athenian and Persian empires: the Ninth Oxford Symposium on Coinage and Monetary History. B.A.R. p. 88.: "The hoards from Babylonia, Susa, and the Bhir Mound (40-2) included coins of Alexander and of Philip III (Bhir Mound only), and their few sigloi are all of type jy"
- Marshall, Taxila, Volume II 1951, p. 854.
- Allchin, F. Raymond, "The Urban Position of Taxila and Its Place in Northwest India-Pakistan", Studies in the History of Art, 31: 69–81, JSTOR 42620473
- Bopearachchi, Osmund (2000), "Coin Production and Circulation in Central Asia and North-West India (Before and after Alexander's Conquest)", Indologica Taurinensia, International Association of Sanskrit Studies, 25
- Bopearachchi, Osmund (2017), "Achaemenids and Mauryans: Emergence of Coins and Plastic Arts in India", in Alka Patel; Touraj Daryaee, India and Iran in the Longue Durée, UCI Jordan Center for Persian Studies, pp. 15–48
- Fleming, David (1993), "Where was Achaemenid India?", Bulletin of the Asia Institute, New Series, 7: 67–72, JSTOR 24048427
- Karttunen, Klaus (1 January 1990), "Taxila: Indian City and a Stronghold of Hellenism (concerning two recent books)", Acta Philologica Fennica, 24: 85–96
- Marshall, John (1951). Taxila, Volume II: Minor Antiquities. Cambridge University Press.
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- Images of the excavations at Bhir Mound (1913-1934) (John Marshall, Taxila vol.III, 1951)