Origin and Dissemination of the Cruciform Shaped Stupas
and Buddha Images with Double Haloes:
A Study Based on New Discoveries from Bhamala, Taxila (Pakistan)
The cruciform shaped stupa and the images of Buddha with double haloes are the two rare aspects of the Buddhist heritage, which are generally placed to the sixth-seventh century CE. Our current archaeological excavations at the Buddhist site Bhamala in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan have brought to light some fresh examples of these infrequent features. The Buddhist complex of Bhamala is located along the Haro River, and is associated with the ancient route through the Muree and Margalla hills that connected the Taxila valley with Kashmir. The site was partly excavated by Sir John Marshall in 1930-31. In 1980, it was declared as part of World Heritage Site of Taxila by UNESCO. A new program of excavation and conservation was begun in 2012-13 under the Directorate of Archaeology, KP and the Department of Archaeology, Hazara University. These excavations have brought to light many interesting discoveries including the stepped cross shape stupa and Buddha images with double halos, but relatively earlier in date than those already reported from Gandhara and other surrounding regions. Based on these recent discoveries from Bhamala, the present study therefore, considers the formation and dissemination of these unique features from Taxila, Greater Gandhara and central Asia from abut third to seventh century CE.
Abdul Hameed is a researcher in the Department of Archaeology at the Hazara University in Maneshra, Pakistan. He is currently a Visiting PhD Scholar in the Department of Anthropology at UW-Madison.