From the ancient Neolithic tumulus of Saraikala to the ramparts of Sirkap (2nd century B.C.) and the city of Sirsukh (1st century A.D.), Taxila illustrates the different stages in the development of a city on the Indus that was alternately influenced by Persia, Greece and Central Asia and which, from the 5th century B.C. to the 2nd century A.D., was an important Buddhist centre of learning.
Du très ancien tumulus néolithique de Saraikala aux remparts de Sirkap, datant du IIe siècle av. J.-C., et à la ville de Sirsukh, du Ier siècle apr. J.-C., Taxila illustre les étapes du développement urbain d'une ville de l'Indus soumise tour à tour aux influences de la Perse, du monde hellénique et de l'Asie centrale, et qui, du VIe siècle av. J.-C. au IIe siècle de l'ère chrétienne, fut le siège d'une université bouddhique florissante.
تجسد تاكسيلا ابتداءً من الحقبة النيوليتية القديمة في سرايكلا المؤلفة من أسوار سيركاب التي تعود الى القرن الثاني ق.م. الى مدينة سيرسوخ التي تعود الى القرن الاول قبل الميلاد، خطوات التطور المدني لاحدى مدن الهندوس الخاضعة بكاملها لتأثيرات الفرس والعالم الهيلينستي وآسيا الوسطى والتي كانت مقرًّا للجامعة البوذية المزدهرة في القرن الثاني من الحقبة المسيحيّة.
Древний город Таксила
Руины Таксилы на реке Инд отражают разные стадии в развитии города: от древних неолитических могильников Сарай-калы до остатков городов Сиркап (II в. до н.э.) и Сирсух (I в. н.э.). Город находился поочередно под влиянием Персии, Греции и Центральной Азии, а с V в. до н.э. до II в. н.э. был важным буддийским центром образования.
Desde la construcción del antiquísimo túmulo neolítico de Saraikala hasta la edificación de la ciudad de Sirsukh en el siglo I d. C., pasando por la erección de las murallas de Sirkap en el siglo II a.C., el sitio de Taxila ilustra las etapas de desarrollo urbano de una ciudad del valle del Indo sometida sucesivamente a la influencia de Persia, Grecia y el Asia Central. Desde el siglo V a.C. hasta el siglo II d.C. fue, además, sede de un importante centro de enseñanza budista.
Taxila illustreert de verschillende stadia in de ontwikkeling van een stad aan de Indus; van de oude neolithische grafheuvel van Saraikala, tot de aarden wallen van Sirkap in de 2e eeuw voor Christus en de stad Sirsukh uit de 1e eeuw na Christus. De stad onderging afwisselend de invloed van Perzië, Griekenland en Centraal-Azië. Van de 5e eeuw voor tot de 2e eeuw na Christus was het een belangrijk boeddhistisch centrum van onderwijs. Taxila is een uitgestrekt complex van ruïnes waaronder een mesolithische grot (khanpur grot), vier nederzettingen (Saraidala, Bhir, Sirkap en Sirsukh) en een aantal boeddhistische kloosters uit verschillende periodes.
Outstanding Universal Value
Taxila, located in the Rawalpindi district of Pakistan’s Punjab province, is a vast serial site that includes a Mesolithic cave and the archaeological remains of four early settlement sites, Buddhist monasteries, and a Muslim mosque and madrassa. Situated strategically on a branch of the Silk Road that linked China to the West, Taxila reached its apogee between the 1st and 5th centuries. It is now one of the most important archaeological sites in Asia. The ruins of the four settlement sites at Taxila reveal the pattern of urban evolution on the Indian subcontinent through more than five centuries. One of these sites, the Bihr mound, is associated with the historic event of the triumphant entry of Alexander the Great into Taxila.The archaeological sites of Saraikala, Bhir, Sirkap, and Sirsukh are collectively of unique importance in illustrating the evolution of urban settlement on the Indian subcontinent. The prehistoric mound of Saraikala represents the earliest settlement of Taxila, with evidence of Neolithic, Bronze Age, and Iron Age occupation. The Bhir mound is the earliest historic city of Taxila, and was probably founded in the 6th century BC by the Achaemenians. Its stone walls, house foundations, and winding streets represent the earliest forms of urbanization on the subcontinent. Bihr is also associated with Alexander the Great’s triumphant entry into Taxila in 326 BC. Sirkap was a fortified city founded during the mid-2nd century BC. The many private houses, stupas, and temples were laid out on the Hellenistic grid system and show the strong Western classical influence on local architecture. The city was destroyed in the 1st century by the Kushans, a Central Asian tribe. To the north, excavations of the ruins of the Kushan city of Sirsukh have brought to light an irregular rectangle of walls in ashlar masonry, with rounded bastions. These walls attest to the early influence of Central Asian architectural forms on those of the subcontinent.
The Taxila serial site also includes Khanpur cave, which has produced stratified microlithic tools of the Mesolithic period, and a number of Buddhist monasteries and stupas of various periods. Buddhist monuments erected throughout the Taxila valley transformed it into a religious heartland and a destination for pilgrims from as far afield as Central Asia and China. The Buddhist archaeological sites at Taxila include the Dharmarajika complex and stupa, the Khader Mohra grouping, the Kalawan grouping, the Giri monasteries, the Kunala stupa and monastery, the Jandial complex, the Lalchack and the Badalpur stupa remains and monasteries, the Mohra Moradu monastic remains, the Pipplian and the Jaulian remains, and the Bahalar stupa and remains. The Giri complex also includes the remains of a three-domed Muslim mosque, ziarat (tomb), and madrassa (school) of the medieval period.
Criterion (iii) : The ruins of four universally meaningful settlement sites at Taxila (Saraidala, Bhir, Sirkap, and Sirsukh) reveal the pattern of urban evolution on the Indian subcontinent through more than five centuries. Taxilia is the only site of this unique importance on the subcontinent.
Criterion (vi) : The Bihr mound is associated with the historic event of the triumphant entry of Alexander the Great into Taxila.
Within the boundaries of the property are located all the elements necessary to express the Outstanding Universal Value of Taxila. Exposure of the archaeological remains to the extremes of a tropical climate, uncontrolled growth of vegetation, and earthquakes represents a risk to the overall integrity of the property, as do expansions of the industrial estates located within the Taxila valley (despite their location outside the buffer zone), limestone blasting and quarrying activities in the valley, and illegal excavations by looters in the Buddhist monastery sites.
The archaeological complex of Taxila is authentic in terms of its forms and design, materials and substance, and locations and settings. The property is being maintained to protect and preserve it from any changes to its authenticity. Specific attention to authenticity is being paid in conservation plans in order to maintain original designs, traditions, techniques, locations, and settings, according to international principles.
Protection and management requirements
Taxila is a protected antiquity in terms of the Antiquities Act, 1975, passed by the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Constitution (18th Amendment) Act 2010 (Act No. X of 2010), bestowed the Government of the Punjab and the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with full administrative and financial authority over all heritage sites located in these respective provinces. The Directorate General of Archaeology and Museums of the Provincial Government of Punjab and the Directorate of Archaeology of the Provincial Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are responsible for the management and protection of Taxila, which is comprised of 18 archaeological sites, ten of which are geographically located in Punjab province and eight in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. All activities undertaken at the site are prepared by the site’s management committee and approved by a competent forum before implementation. Funding comes from the Provincial Government of Punjab and the Provincial Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; this funding is recognised as inadequate.
Sustaining the Outstanding Universal Value of the property over time will require completing, approving, and implementing the Master Plan for the property and strengthening the Comprehensive Management Plan in terms of international standards as well as scientific approaches; carrying out the required scientific studies on vegetation control to minimize the damage to the masonry and structure of the monuments; undertaking an impact assessment of the heavy industries, military compounds, and stone quarrying in the area, and redefining, if necessary, the boundaries of the property in the context of this assessment; managing the existing boundaries and buffer zones to protect the setting; applying to Taxila the national programme to prevent illegal excavation and trafficking in artefacts; and strengthening co-operation between planning, development, and cultural heritage agencies.
Taxila lies 30 km north-west of Rawalpindi on the Grand Trunk Road. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in Asia. Situated strategically on a branch of the Silk Road that linked China to the West, the city flourished both economically and culturally. Taxila reached its apogee between the 1st and 5th centuries AD. Buddhist monuments were erected throughout the Taxila valley, which was transformed into a religious heartland and a destination for pilgrims from as far afield as Central Asia and China. That Taxila was very famous can be deduced from the fact that it is mentioned in several languages. In Sanskrit, the city was called Takshaçila (Prince of the Serpent Tribe); in Pâli it was known as Takkasilâ; the Greeks knew the town as Taxila, which the Romans rendered as Taxilla; the Chinese called it Chu-ch'a-shi-lo.
Taxila is a vast complex of ruins, some 30 km north-west of modern Islamabad, which includes a Mesolithic cave (Khanpur cave), four settlement sites (Saraidala, Bhir, Sirkap and Sirsukh), a number of Buddhist monasteries of various periods and above Giri, Muslim mosques and madrasas of the medieval period. The Bhir mound is the earliest historic city of Taxila and was probably founded in the 6th century BC by the Achaemenids, according to legend by a son of the brother of the legendary hero Rama. The first town was situated on a hill that commanded the river Tamra Nala, a tributary of the Indus. It was an important cultural centre and it is said that the Mahabharata was first recited at Taxila. Stone walls, house foundations and winding streets represent the earliest forms of urbanization on the subcontinent.
Sirkap was a fortified city founded during the mid-2nd century BC. Taxila was the capital of a kingdom called Hinduš (Indus country) and consisted of the western half of the Punjab. It was added to the Achaemenid empire under Darius I the Great, but the Persian occupation did not last long. The many private houses, stupas and temples are laid out on the Hellenistic grid system and show the strong Western classical influence on local architecture. The city was destroyed in the 1st century AD by the Kushans of central Asia.
To the north, excavations of the ruins of the Kushan city of Sirsukh have brought to light an irregular rectangle of walls in ashlar masonry with rounded bastions. This wall attests to the early influence of Central Asian architectural forms on those of the subcontinent.
The city of Sirkap (Severed Head), chronologically the second major city of Taxila, is to be found spreading down the Hathial Spur and on to the plains of the Taxila valley. It is bounded by the Tamra stream and to the north and south by the Gau stream, which today has been almost completely obliterated by a modern road and water channel. The present layout of the city was established by the Bactrian Greeks sometime around 180 BC and takes the form of a wide and open grid system. In general, the city presents a better planned architecture than Bhir Mound. The city is encompassed by a mighty wall over 5 km long and up to 6 m thick. There may well have been an entrance on each of the four sides originally, but today the only one evident is the northern wall and it is through here that visitors normally enter the city. A number of temples and monasteries can be found here: Apsidal Temple, Sun Temple, Shrine of the Double Headed Eagle, Kunala Monastery and Ghai Monastery.
The major attraction in this city is the Great Stupa, one of the largest and most impressive throughout Pakistan, located just 2 km east of Bhir Mound and Sirkap. The chapels and chambers around the Great Stupa were built at various times from the 1st century BC to the post-Kushan period. These structures display a wide range of designs and probably were donated by pilgrims, possibly representing various schools of Buddhism.
Other sites of interest include the city of Sirsukh which is believed to belong to the Kushan period. To the north of Sirkap are four temples, all standing on earlier mounds and overlooking the city. They are all in the style of Greek temples. The best to visit is probably the one at Jandial, 1.5 km north of Sirkap.Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC