MULTAN (APP) – Sandwiched between the grandeur of the Suleman mountain range and the might of the roaring Indus River, the strip of plain that crosses the Dera Ghazi Khan division is believed to hide evidence and clues about the Buddhist civilizations that once held there survived and prospered.
This land has seen many royal families, kings, Rajas and Sardars and their ruins, forts, towns and villages are hidden beneath the soil accumulated over centuries of human intervention and weather impacts. The ruins of Dillu Roy waited decades for excavations to tell the story of the rise and fall of the dynasties of ancient times and the culture that prevailed then.
Mound Dillu Roy or Dillu Roy Ther (The Seraiki equivalent of the English word Ruins), dating from the Buddhist era was declared a protected site in 1962 by the Department of Archeology of Punjab and that was during the fiscal year 2017 -18 when the government launched a Rs 17.323 million project to build a perimeter wall around the ruins of the Buddhist site for the protection of private collectors of artefacts and to undertake excavations.
The wall is nearing completion as a team of experts, led by the lone archaeologist of Punjab archeology, South Deputy Director Muhammad Hassan, has been tasked by Director General of Archeology Muhammad Ilyas Gill to excavate the site.
Dillu Roy is believed to be a prince who once ruled this region.
According to a myth told by the famous travel writer Dr Abbas Birmani in his book “Tilismati Wadiyan” or “Magic Valleys”, Dillu Roy was a cruel ruler and the city was destroyed due to a curse of a woman . He described the ruins as “a sleeping talking city”.
It is located on the border of the districts of DG Khan and Rajanpur, however, most of the ruins are in the tehsil of Kot Chutta of DG Khan and rest in the tehsil Jampur of the district of Rajanpur.
However, it is closer to Jampur i.e. just eight (8) kilometers northwest and 20 kilometers south of Kot Chutta.
Excavations began in January 2020 and ended on March 20, 2020.
âIt was a 45-day exercise, which however lasted 52 days due to a shortage of skilled workers,â the archaeologist said adding: âFortunately its completion coincided with the lockdown of the novel coronavirus, but we were done with the project at that time. “
Hassan said the outline of the mound was intact and the watchtower structure survives on a cultural heritage site.
The site covers an area of ââalmost 50 acres and is divided into two parts of approximately 35 to 45 meters.
The excavation was undertaken on scientific lines at three selected points and 22 squares measuring 5 Ã 5 meters were opened.
In addition to this, the ruins of the fortification wall and other mud brick structures, occupancy levels have been revealed in various underground plazas.
The archaeologist said the limited vertical excavations in the 2020 season have added valuable new information about the Hindu-Shahi, Gupta, Sassai and Kushan dynasties that have been recorded in their chronological sequence. âIt appears that most of the top of the mound has been subjected to human vandalism and the rain has been disturbed. Scant cultural deposits of the last phase of this city have been recorded. The excavations uncovered physical evidence that helped link missing gaps from the Gupta, Sassaians and Kushan periods, he said.
The excavations yielded a treasure of information and cultural material such as pottery and small finds that belong to the 2nd to 7th century AD.
Hassan said: âAlthough limited in both time and extent, the excavations have produced material relics of a Brahmanic character in the pre-Muslim levels, which, in the absence of datable evidence, cannot be safely placed in the known dynastic division of Hindu India.
The chronological sequence of the Dillu Roy mound can be compared to various sites in Gandhara like Taxila, Shaikhan Dheri, Badalpur, Kashmir Smast, etc.
The excavations unearthed some 1,370 small artefacts consisting of terracotta bowls, human molds, animal and human figurines, terracotta beads, stone beads, a grinding mill, iron household items and made of copper, shell bracelets, glass and copper rings, bracelets and amulets.
However, some of them deserve special mention, including a lion sitting in a gray shale stone panel depicting the story of Jataka, a terracotta Buddhist plaque, and a clay seated woman statue.
The typical Gandharan style small figure on the left side of the lion (Simha) shows a sturdy lion in an upright sitting position.
However, the lion’s right side is remarkably different and unusual. It represents episodes associated with the Buddha such as Naga Apalala and episodes from the Visvantara Jataka.
The discovery of the terracotta Buddhist plaque is also very interesting but unfortunately partly broken. These figures were drawn in a well-known Indian style from the Mauryan period and in particular from the Shunga period until the very late period.
The remarkable clay statue of a seated woman was found at a depth of 42 cm from the surface to ground level. The mud clay the statue was in a broken condition with its head, arm and torso separated and looked like it was fixed in a wall or placed on a ledge at a reasonable height. “Most likely, this figure is Parvati because of her prominent breasts and third eye.”
The discovery of a thick deposit of clay bubbles / seals was unique. “Over 1000 clay bubbles have been found and this type of sealing was commonly used for different purposes like official documents, private letters or personal seals, banker or merchant stamps, Buddhist codes for educational purposes. and religious. “
âThese usually display personal names and titles. The bubbles / seals in different imprints and scriptures, the decorative burnt bricks and the inscribed fired bricks are of primary archaeological interest, âsaid the archaeologist.
The discovery of seals, tablets was made during the surface collection. These seals represent a human figure with Brahmi writing. Some figures are fascinating and give rise to further reflection. These are linked to Indian and Greek mythologies. Many figures of these mythologies have been reported but stylistically they are new and different from others, âhe added.
Hassan said the 2020 excavation season was helpful in finding new information and corroborated previous assessments that it was a Sytho-Parthian-era Buddhist site.
However, he added, the ruins hold even more information and vast potential for further excavation and more discoveries, especially the Sytho-Parthian and Greek periods.