The Graveyard and the Buddhist Shrine at Saidu Sharif I (Swat, Pakistan): Fresh Chronological and Stratigraphic Evidence

Olivieri Luca M.

With contributions by Filippo Terrasi, Fabio Marzaioli, Isabella Passariello and Manuela Capano, and notes by Aatif Iqbal

The archaeological site of Saidu Sharif I in the Swat Valley (1st–4th cent. CE) was excavated in the 1970s and 1980s by the Italian Archaeological Mission of the former IsMEO under the direction of Domenico Faccenna. During the final stage of the excavation of the Saidu Sharif I monastery, several graves were found below the Buddhist structures. It was inferred that there was a direct physical overlap between the graveyard and the monastery, and almost no chronological interruption between the two phenomena. New fieldwork (2011–2015) and radiocarbon dating have instead revealed a consistent chronological gap, and that the physical overlapping of the two phenomena was artificially caused by vast leveling works undertaken for the establishment of the sanctuary at the beginning of the Current Era. 

Keywords: Saidu Sharif I, Buddhist sacred areas, pre-Buddhist graveyards, Gandhara, Swat

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