The oldest surviving Buddhist texts, preserved on long rolls of birch-tree bark, are written in Gandhari, an early regional Indic language that is long extinct. The scrolls originate from the region known in ancient times as Gandhara, which lies in what is now Northwestern Pakistan.
For researchers interested in the early history of Buddhism, these manuscripts represent a sensational find, for a number of reasons.
The first is their age. Some of the documents date from the first century BC, making them by far the oldest examples of Indian Buddhist literature. But for the experts, their contents are equally fascinating. The texts provide insights into a literary tradition which was thought to have been irretrievably lost, and they help researchers to reconstruct crucial phases in the development of Buddhism in India. Furthermore, the scrolls confirm the vital role played by the Gandhara region in the spread of Buddhism into Central Asia and China. Read more.
KARACHI: The police and archaeology experts seem to be at loggerheads over the actual number of Gandhara relics seized earlier in the month.
Amid press reports that some artefacts have been stolen from the Awami Colony police station, both parties associated with the case are coming up with a different total for the statues.
While National Museum’s director Mohammad Shah Bokhari claims to have photographed and documented around 330 pieces earlier, the newly posted SHO at the police station, Hatim Marwat, says there are only 308 artefacts.
The police had seized a container full of Buddhist relics on July 6 and then found some more in a Korangi warehouse on July 8. As the police were investigating the case, archaeology experts, including officials from Sindh culture department and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s archaeology department, were called in to record the details of the seized relics. Read more.
KARACHI: A day after seizing dozens of third century Buddhist artefacts from a container truck, the police found more such figurines stuffed away in a warehouse in the Ibrahim Hyderi area, Korangi.
The police said that they were able to recover some more Gandhara relics on information provided by the arrested driver and cleaner of the truck. The artefacts seized on Friday morning were also stocked in the same warehouse and were loaded onto the truck.
However, the sculptures recovered on Saturday could not be shifted to the police station as they were “too heavy”. The statues were stuffed in two large boxes and one of a smaller size. SP Latif Siddiqui told The Express Tribune that a mechanical lifter was called to shift the ancient artefacts to the police station. Read more.