2,300-year-old Buddhist temple discovered in Pakistan

Pakistan’s oldest Buddhist temple was discovered in the northwest of the country by Italian archaeologists. The remains of the temple date back to 300 BC.

The find in the town of Swat comes from an archaeological site where the remains of a Hindu temple were discovered last year, said Abdul Samad Khan, regional chief archaeologist.

“This is an important discovery in many ways, especially with regard to religious harmony, tolerance and multiculturalism during the Gandhara era,” he added.

The kingdom of Gandhara emerged in what is today northwest Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan around 1000 BC and lasted for 1000 years.

The city of Swat continued to change hands between Hindu, Buddhist and Indo-Greek rulers, who first arrived in the region from Greece with Alexander III of Macedon, commonly known as Alexander the Great.

Khan said the discovery of Hindu and Buddhist temples was a signal that followers of these faiths were living together in the area or building structures in layers one after another.

Some coins and stamps from the period of an Indo-Greek king were also among the latest finds, suggesting that Swat was a multicultural city even thousands of years ago.

Swat, then called Bazira, is the hometown of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot and wounded by Taliban activists because of her campaign to educate girls.

Italian and Pakistani archaeologists would continue excavating the site to learn more about the life and history of this period, Khan said.

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