Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Banbhore Museum

The site Banbhore is situated on the Bank of Gharo creek, about 40 miles east of Karachi on National Highway. The site conceals the remains of a settlement of considerable size. It is divided into two parts: (a) a well fortified citadel area measuring over 2000 feet from east to west and 1200 feet from north to south, and (b) an outer un-walled city extending over a large area on the north and east round ancient lake. This latter part includes an industrial area and an ancient graveyard on its out skirts.

Some archaeologist, scholars and historians have suggested its identification with DEBAL, the famous sea-port which fell to the young Arab General Muhammad Bin Qasim in 712 AC who entered Dahir Kingdom of Sindh, after crossing the Hub river. Muhammad gave a shattering blow to Dahir\’s power at Debal and within three years the whole country of Sindh was conquered and Muslim rule was firmly established here. New Arab cities were like Nirun, Alor, Sehwan, Mansurah, Mahfuza etc. which have been identified except Debal. Preliminary excavations were made by Majumdar in 1928 and Alcock in 1951. Later on, Dr. F.A Khan started extensive excavation in March 1958 and had carried out to 1965 for eight consecutive seasons. As it is clear from progress, Dr. Khan\’s was the most glorious period of excavations in Banbhore.

The Hindu, Buddhist and other period being comparatively poor, deep digging at half a dozen points have provided an almost complete cross section of the mound from top to bottom, revealing the remains of three distinct periods:

  • The Scytho Parthian (1st century B.C to 2nd century A.D)
  • Hindu Buddhist (2nd century B.C to 8th century A.D)
  • Islamic Period (8th century B.C to 13th century A.D)

The city remained under occupation until 13th century when its importance started diminishing due to shifting of the course of river Indus and it was gradually deserted. The buildings collapsed and the whole city turned into the shape of a huge mound.

Though there is no cultural break during the long period of occupation from the eight to the thirteen century A.D., four distinct phases, roughly corresponding with four building period of the defense wall, are early traceable. The earliest phase assignable, on the basis of ceramic and other evidence, to the Umayyad period, the imposing defense system of the citadel owes its origin to this period. Contemporary stone buildings are characterized by massive solidity and strength of the Islamic period, uncovered during first two seasons. The most remarkable is a Palatial Stone Building of semi circular shape which was provided with lime plastered floors, a fine stepped entrance and a large circular well inside. The most important being the great Mosque of the sub-continent.

The other buildings uncovered during third season represent a Shiva Temple of the pre-Muslim in the western part of the citadel.

So far three gateway of the citadel have been uncovered. The Eastern Gateway overlooking the lower city and connecting the citadel with ancient lake on its north eastern corner by flight of badly preserved broad steps. The other two gateways with flights of finely dressed large stone stabs are well preserved.

The Southern Gateway over looking the creek is an imposing structure. It is flanked by two solidly built semi circular bastions.

The structure which now lies half submerged in water on the bank of the creek, in front of southern gate, has solid and deep stone foundation. These might have been used for berthing cargo-laden river boats or small sea crafts.

The Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Pakistan, established a site Museum named Archeological Museum Banbhore. The foundation stone was laid by Mr. Mumtaz Hassan, E.S.Q. Sitara-i-Pakistan knight command of the order of merit Germany, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Government of Pakistan on 21st August 1960. The inauguration ceremony of this museum was performed by Mr. Mumtaz Hassan on 14th May, 1967. In May 2010 the site along with the Museum was handed over to Government of Sindh, Culture Department.

A treasure of cultural material belonging to the Muslim and pre-Muslim period has been discovered and collected from these remains. Most important objects of the Muslim period are the inscription on the stone slabs found from the area of Grand Mosque, a good numbers of coins, specimens of glazed, un-glazed and painted pots. Besides, objects of glass, iron, shell, and ivory among these big storage glazed jars specimens of white paste pottery, the sgraffiato glazed pottery and Chinese porcelains and celadon are worth mentioning.

From pre-Muslim period, have come the terracotta figurine, both human and animal, fragment of stone, sculpture and fine ceramic specimens. Some pieces of pottery have stamped and moulded decoration and a few bear short inscription in proto-nagri style of the 8th century A.D. The finely polished and smooth, surface pottery of the Scythoparthian period is an important discovery of this area.

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Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Department
7th Floor, New Sindh Secretariat Building No.1 Karachi
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