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Taxila: Jandial


Map of Taxila. Design Jona Lendering
Map of Taxila
Taxila (Old Indian Takshaçila): the ancient capital of the eastern Punjab, the country between the rivers Indus and Hydaspes. The site consists of several parts, which belong to three periods:

Taxila (history)
Achaemenid age Greek age Kushan age
Bhir Sirkap 1, 2 Sirsukh

Jandial Jaulian


Mohra Moradu
Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
The temple at Jandial /Taxila. Photo Marco Prins. The sanctuary at Jandial, one of the sites collectively known as Taxila, is one of the greatest surprises in the Punjab, because the ruins are hard to distinguish from a Greek temple built according to the Ionian order. It is constructed on a 15 meters high artificial mound. Using Greek parallels, the structure in front of the building, which is unique in the Punjab, can be identified as an altar.
The entrance of the temple at Jandial /Taxila. Photo Marco Prins. Perhaps, we might have expected a Greek temple. After all, Jandial is only 650 meters from the part of Taxila that is known as Sirkap, which was founded and rebuilt in the second century BCE by the Indo-Greek kings Demetrius and Menander. However, it is slightly odd -to say the very least- that the Jandial sanctuary is probably Zoroastrian.
The entrance of the temple at Jandial /Taxila. Photo Marco Prins. This means that the temple, which measured about 45 x 30 meters, was probably dedicated to an Iranian god like Ahuramazda, Anahita, or Mithra. There are no archaeological indications that the eternal fire, so important in the Iranian world, was venerated at Jandial - but see below.
Remains of a column of the temple at Jandial /Taxila. Photo Marco Prins. Remains of a Ionian column. Technically, the temple would be a distyle-in-antis (i.e., it had two columns between two projecting walls). A pronaos, naos, and opisthodomos can also be discerned (entrance hall, cult room, back chamber). According to Philostratus, the author of the Life of Apollonius, the Pythagorean philosopher Apollonius of Tyana, visited Taxila (= Sirkap) and saw a temple (= Jandial) decorated with copper plates showing the exploits of Alexander the Great and Porus. Probably, this is just Philostratus' reworking of information he found in his sources, but maybe the author of his source saw a relief that he interpreted in this fashion.
Rear entrance of the temple at Jandial /Taxila. Photo Marco Prins. The rear entrance. There are stairs inside the opisthodomos, so there must have been a second story in this temple. This is important, because it proves that there was an elevated superstructure - definitely not a Greek element, but something that can easily be explained if the temple was dedicated to Ahuramazda. The sanctuary was, in this interpretation, a large artificial mound.
Cult room of the temple at Jandial /Taxila. Photo Marco Prins. The central room of the temple. On this picture, you can clearly see that the shrine was built on an artificial mound. A stone's throw to the west was the main road to the Indus, the Uttaräpatha.
Wall of the temple at Jandial /Taxila. Photo Marco Prins. The western wall of the temple, made of coursed rubble. Archaeologists have shown that there were windows, which is unusual for a Greek temple. A convincing explanation is that they did not serve to let in light, but oxygen for the sacred fire. This is one argument for the thesis that the temple was dedicated to Ahuramazda.
Faravahar, the visual aspect of Ahuramazda. Relief from Persepolis. Photo Marco Prins. Ahuramazda, on a relief from Persepolis. Maybe, a similar relief once graced the outside of the Jandial shrine.

Numismatic evidence indicates that the sanctuary was still used in the late sixth century. A satellite photo can be found here.

© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2004
Revision: 28 May 2008
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