Exploring the Settlement Archaeology of the Hindu Shahi Dynasty (c. 822 CE to c. 1026 CE) in North-Western Pakistan
thesisposted on 27.10.2017, 14:19 authored by Ijaz Khan
This thesis investigates the Hindu Shahi dynasty in Lower Dir, Malakand Agency, Swat and Buner Districts (the study region) in north-western Pakistan through systematic landscape survey to gain insights into their activities and political position of the study region. The archaeology of the Hindu Shahi period has received little attention and their knowledge is limited to few partisan historical accounts and understandings of temples’ architecture and excavations of few sites. Previous archaeological research in the study region has brought to light considerable Hindu Shahi evidence, representing their retreat to the region after the fall of the Vale of Peshawar to the Ghaznavids. The present survey resulted in the documentation of 225 Hindu Shahi sites in the study region, comprising a single Hindu temple, two wells and 222 settlement sites (including 140 sites with watchtowers). Most of these sites, with multiple watchtowers, bastions and storage pits, are distinctly visible defensive structures, situated on high altitudes and prominent landscape features, such as hilltops and high slopes. Majority of these sites are linked with inter and intra-valley trade and access routes, major and minor passes and Swat and Panjkora Rivers. These sites give clues to the defensive strategy of the Hindu Shahi of protecting the study region and hindering Ghaznavids attacks from the neighbouring regions, particularly from the Vale of Peshawar. Mayar valley was the most naturally and geographically protected area of the study region. The analyses of Hindu Shahi settlements and pottery assemblage suggest it to be the core Hindu Shahi activity area. The present study argues for the study region to be their first and most densely populated known region with significant highly defensive architecture, representing a significant activity, including retreat, of Hindu Shahi Dynasty and Mayar valley, as the most well-defended territory, possibly as their last political centre or seat of power.