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Peshawar: ‘Oldest Living City’ in South Asia

July 3, 2010

Dawn News Report on Peshawar

Saturday, 03 Jul, 2010

PESHAWAR: Archaeologists are resuming excavation at historic Gor Khatri monument to discover the exact archaeological profile of ancient Peshawar, presently enjoying the distinction of oldest living city in South Asia.

A recent archaeology excavation at Gor Khatri has established the city’s historical profile and now Peshawar is officially claimed by Archaeology Department to be the ‘Oldest Living City’ in South Asia, boasting a recorded history that goes back as far as at least 539 BC.

“Still after claiming to be the oldest living city of South Asia, the exact archaeological profile of Peshawar is not discovered yet because the excavation at Gor Khatri was stopped before reaching the virgin soil due to shortage of funds,” informed Saleh Muhammad, Director Archaeology and Museum Department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The provincial government, he added, has now included the project for resuming of excavation at Gor Khatri in the Annual Development Plan of new budget and work is going to start soon.

“Once the capital of Gandhara, Peshawar is so old that its origins are lost in antiquity,” remarked Dr. Ihsan Ali, former Director Archeology Museum Department and presently Vice Chancellor Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan.

The claim is firmly grounded upon two significant archaeological findings during excavation at Governor’s House in 1906 and at the ongoing archaeological dig at Gor Khatri, Dr. Ehsan said during his recent lecture at Wali Khan University.

Dr. Ihsan Ali said presently exact profile of Peshawar city does not exist and it is not clear that exactly how old Peshawar city is.

Quoting renowned Archaeologist, Syed Abdul Qudoos, Prof Ehsan said ‘Peshawar is a true metropolis of orient and the legendry city has many secrets to share.’

The history of Peshawar is a story of different people and of many cultures, conquered by Greeks, ruled by Buddhists, destroyed by the Huns, rebuilt by the Brahmins, invaded by Ghaznavis, captured by the Mughals, over run by the Sikhs and annexed by the British in succession, he added.

“Resumption of excavation at Gor Khatri would enrich the archaeological profile of Peshawar because we are hoping of discovering more evidences of life beyond the period from 4 to 6 century BC”, observed Saleh Muhammad.

The excavation at Gor Khatri, which continued for four years and published in the British Journal ‘Current World Archaeology’ with the title as ‘The deepest and biggest excavation in the world’ revealed 20 layers that provide a complete profile of the city ranging from British down to the pre Indo-Greek era.

The excavation discovered that Peshawar was a province of Persian Alchamenian Empire in 4 to 6 century BC, he added.

He apprised that from Alchamenian, it came under the sway of many different influences and rulers namely Mauryans, Greeks, Scythians, Kushans, Sasanians, White Huns, Hindu Shahis, Ghaznavids, Slave Dynasty, Ghorids, Suri Afghans, Mughals, Durrani Afghans, Sikhs and the British before creation of Pakistan.

This claim can be verified through discovery of antiques during excavation which have been displayed at city’s museum set up within the premises of Gor Khatri. The museum provides detailed information about archaeological and ethnological profile of Peshawar.

The museum, he continued, was set up with the objective of highlighting the archaeological importance of Peshawar city throughout the world by displaying the antiques recovered during excavation.

“Welcoming the development, Dr. Ali Jan, spokesman of Sarhad Tourism Corporation (STC), when contacted observed that enriching of Peshawar’s profile would enhance its archaeological importance and help STC to attract more tourists and history lovers to the city.

By discovering more evidence that Peshawar is much older than the claim of 2,600 years, the city can be included in the list of oldest living cities of Asia or may be of world like Jerusalem and Damascus, he hoped.

The present excavation has placed Peshawar proudly in the ranks of very few other cities in the world and digging more evidence will further boost its distinction, he added.

He also informed that while keeping in view the long chronicle of Peshawar with its living culture and remnants of the past, the provincial government, acting on a recommendation made by STC, has declared the year 2010 as a ‘Celebrate Peshawar’ year.

In this connection, he continued, several events would be organized in November and December of current year with the objective of giving special recognition to the archaeological profile of Peshawar.

“Apart from government efforts, it is also the responsibility of the dwellers of Peshawar to preserve their cultural heritage, identity and legacy for future generations,” remarked Ali Jan. – APP Feature Service

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. Kamran permalink
    July 3, 2010 9:47 pm

    der ala….:)

  2. Anonymous permalink
    July 4, 2010 4:20 am

    hmm…. i thought Harappa or Mohen-Jo-Daro were the oldest..
    btw.. Peshawar erstwhile Purushpur is mentioned in Hindu Scriptures like “Mahabharata” too as the maternal place of Kaurava’s as there mother “Gandhaari” belonged to “Gandhaar”.

    I feel it was Aryan’s who established this city and many more in the South Asia nearly at the same era. But taking into account the geographical location of “Purushpur”.. we can say that it could be the earliest one.
    But again there are chances of “Gandhara” city in Afghanistan and “Malakhand” in Pakistan of been established at the same era.

  3. July 4, 2010 4:29 am

    PErfect…its a legendry city ofcource …cause it is proved from evidences that it was conquered, destructed and constructed by number of ….. Fort Balahisar has absorbed number of stories which are more clear to mark it historical…

    nice work Ayesha :)

  4. July 4, 2010 4:30 am

    where is my comment :(

  5. July 13, 2010 5:52 pm

    cool :-)

  6. August 10, 2010 1:43 pm

    Oh I missed Balahisaar so much. It was my dream to go there but couldn’t. Khair I will go this time enshAllah when I visit Peshawar. And yeah it is one of the oldest city in Asia.

    Have you seen these places yet? How about Khyber Bazar and Qisakhawani? I rarely gone to these places because my parents were not letting me to go there. Also I always get lost in the streets of Qisakhawani, Khyber bazar and saddar. And I was very poor with remembering the names of these places. I cannot make the differences between communities in Peshawar. I know only Bacha Khan chowk because of that big picture of Bacha Khan in it.:P

    • August 14, 2010 10:32 pm

      No one is allowed to go inside the Balahisar, unless you have someone in FC or military who could take you on a tour.

      I’ve been to Khyber Bazaar and Qissakhawani many, many times before all that terrorism started!

      Oh I’m confused between Bachan Khan Chowk and ‘chargaano chowk’! :D

  7. August 16, 2010 12:10 pm

    Lol… I think I have some close relatives in Pak Army. But I don’t know if they would ever take me there. Khyber Bazar and Qisakhawani were more safer at that time 2 to 3 years ago but not now. :( Yay i missed the KEER. We called it here “Kozy Shake”

    I think there is a very little distance between Chargaano chowk and Bacha khan chowk. Only few streets down is Chargano chowk. lol… I used to go there hiding from school and buy movies CD on the platform guys sitting on it. :)

  8. August 16, 2010 12:12 pm

    Missed spell -”Kozy Shack”-

  9. hitesh raj kapoor permalink
    October 2, 2010 6:23 am

    i m in search of history of khatri cast.the real marshalist the worrier.if you have any information for the same please get in touch with me and share love123kapoor@yahoo.com

  10. February 4, 2011 3:08 pm

    The oldest, beautiful and City of Flowers.. May Allah Bring peace to our city.

    • Tahir permalink
      June 12, 2011 4:08 pm

      ameen sum ameen. Peshawar certainly has a bright history, and the inhabitants as well, the so called lost tribes of Bani Israil….

  11. Sameer Yusaf permalink
    March 3, 2011 3:34 am

    Moenjadaro and Harrapa are old cities no doubt but they are not LIVING CITIES. A Living city is one which has continued uninterrupted to present day. Peshawar ranks as one of the most ancient cities in the world and certainly the oldest in our part of Asia.

  12. fazal khaliq permalink
    April 10, 2011 1:40 pm

    Now aday i m in uk but i miss toooooooo much ma peshawar city… i never fogot peshawar…….. i love peshawar…

  13. August 30, 2011 2:33 pm

    arifnawaz afridi

  14. August 30, 2011 2:34 pm

    peshawar university

  15. December 26, 2011 9:09 pm

    oldest living city in south asia is really a new thing to know about , thanks for the post

  16. February 28, 2012 2:35 am

    this is very nice old pics

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