Academic journal article Journal of Asian Civilizations

Origin and Development of Archaeological Studies of Ghizer District, Gilgit-Baltistan (Pakistan)

Academic journal article Journal of Asian Civilizations

Origin and Development of Archaeological Studies of Ghizer District, Gilgit-Baltistan (Pakistan)

Article excerpt

Historical records

The understanding of Vedic priests about the area where the sources of River Indus (Sindhu) lie, and that about its course, can be identified from a hymn in the Rig Veda (Rig Veda: X. 75, 5). It speaks, "First thou goest united with Trstama on this journey, with the Susartu [can be identified with Skardu], the Rasa, and the Sveti [Swat], O Sindhu, with Kubha (Kophen, Kabul River) to Gomati (Gomal), with Mehatnu, to Krumu (Kurum)-1with whom thou proceedest together" (Das 1920 [Ed. 1980]: 70). The classical sources, to understand the mountain area in the North of ancient Gandhära with reference to the ethnic group of Dards, mainly include the accounts of Herodotus (4th century B.C.) and the fragments of Megasthenes quoted by Strabo (XV 1.44, during 64 B.C. to A.D. 23) and Pliny (during A.D. 23 to A.D. 79). Dards were neither depicted in earlier bas reliefs of Persepolis nor mentioned in the Achaemenid inscriptions (Tucci 1977: 11). It is Herodotus (Book VII: 66) who let us know about Gandhärians and Dadicæ, were placed in the same category by Achaemenids, and were commanded together by a single leader. Both of them also share the same kind of equipment with Bactrian, Parthian, Khorasmian and Soghdian. Such sources let us understand that Dards (Jettmar 2002: 189-201) were paying tribute to the Achaemenids, and contribute their power into the Empire in the time of war. In more detail, as per the references from Megasthenese, the highlands near Gandhära expand over 3000 stadia in circumference, where underneath the mines of gold locate. Herodotus (Book III: 102-105) further records about the mysterious ants of the size nearly of dogs, digging the gold in the desert area located in the inner region of this part of the world.

From such ancient sources, we also know about Sakas or Scythians, also subjugated by Achaemenids, locate themselves along the northern borderlands of the Empire. They established their own style of art, wearing peaked caps and burying their dead with grave goods, as we got this information from the Behistun Inscription. Herodotus in his book VII in 64 (Rawlinson 1862: 52-53), calls for the battle axe of Scythian "Sakan Sagaris". Naqsh-e Rustam Inscription of Darious I divide this group of nomads into three: Sakä Haumavargä of Ferghana, Sakä tigraxaudä of region beyond Syr Darya and Sakä tayaiy paradrayä or European Sakas (Abetekov and Yusupov 1996: 26). After the end of Scythian rule in Bactria, with the invasion of Yüeh-chih-Kushanas of the succeeding period- who pushed Scythians to the South, made them to established their Kingdom at Taxila, with the raid of Moga (Maues). Several evidences in rock-art and ancient inscriptions associated to Scythians alongside the River Indus in Upper Indus Valley, help us to consider the direction of attack on Indo-Greek King Appolodotus II at Taxila from the North, i.e. the Karakoram region (Puri 1996: 185, Bivar 1984: 5-15).

The Chinese pilgrim Fa-Hsian (Remusat, et al. 1848: 31-36) crossed 'Congling or Onion Mountains' during A.D. 401 (Cunningham 1854: 2, Tsuchiya 2006: 101-103) by travelling for one month in difficult mountain terrain, where he noticed that the snow never melts, and proceed to the kingdom Tho-ly, which can be identified with Darel or Chilas zone. The difficult terrain for travel in this area is documented by him, besides the religion (Beals 1869: 19-25). The travelogue of Sung Yun is also describing the difficulties in travel from this mountainous region (Dani 1995: 15-18).

Xuan Zang (Tsuchiya 2006: 102) also documents the area of Darel or Diamir and the colossal gilded statue in wood of Meitreya Buddhisattva therein. He calls for Darel or Diamir as Ta-li-lo, and Po-lu-lo for Po-lu-lae of Fa-Hsian. Sino-Tibetan conflicts in Ghizer are recorded in the annals of T'ang dynasty describes the march of the Chinese army to the borderlands of Ghizer and fought therein with Tibetans, in order to stop them to be the allies of Muslims, the emerging power of its time (Stein 1922: 113-114). …

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