Pre Buddhist Era in Valley Swat
Swat, the land of abundant water, plants, small and big mysterious mountains have a long, rich and remarkable history. This land fused various civilizations and cultures, such as, the Aryans, the Greeks and the Buddhists and for most of its known history retained its separate entity. The Italian Archeological Mission (IsMEO) has been trying to search the historical findings and archaeological relics of these ancient people in the Valley. The history of the earliest settlements in the Valley has been traced back to 3000 B.C.
Aryans in Valley Swat
Aryan mentioned Swat River with the name Suvastu and to that effect the land. The mention of Suvastu in Reg-veda testifies the Aryan settlements in this beautiful valley. The Aryan migrations towards eastern Afghanistan and northwest India traced back to 2500 B.C. They were absorbed in consolidating their power in these parts of India and Afghanistan.The Aryans migrated to Swat valley in 14th century B.C after having been ousted by the Iranians.
The Aryans were inclined to natural phenomena in their beliefs. They considered mountains and lakes sacred. Mountains like Elum and lakes like Saidgai, Bisigram and Daraal were respected and praised. The mountains had gotten the status of community centres for tribes and had considered the patron of the tribe, the seat of the ancestor.
Another Aryan tradition concerns with their drinks Soma, an evergreen medicinal plant, mentioned in Reg-veda. It was a religious practice that the Aryans would prepare a special kind of beverage of this plant and then it presented to gods, as offering, through fire. The festival would celebrate at a particular time while singing and dancing. Soma would grow in Swat in abundance, festival would held and the people would use to drink wine or other intoxicating liquors probably extracted from 'rhubarb haoma-zairi-gaono' of Avesta, the soma of the Vedas.
Swat and Persia
Swat shares its long ancient religious, cultural, with Persia. It cannot be said with certainty whether Persia had extended its political yoke to Swat or not. It is a crux to be solved. The Persians since Cyrus 1st had been trying to make their way towards the east. They even appeared at the door of the Gandahara at that time, and knocked down its various territories. Gandahara had made the seventh province of the Achaemenian Empire and the third in the eastern provinces. Muhammad Ashraf Khan is of the view that Swat valley, probably, was brought by the Achaemenians under their control and ruled it until the Macedonians ousted them. Some scholars believe that Swat was within the boundaries of ancient Gandahara. Makin Khan writes that Darius of Parsia invaded Udyana in 518 BC. But Professor Tucci says that undoubtedly Swat had been under Gandaharan influence but it should not be considered as being identical with or included in Gandahara or in Kapisa. Afghanistan. It had a position by itself, separate from Gandahara. Herodotus assembled his information about the easternmost boundaries of the Achaemenian Empire from Iranian informants who by themselves had no exact notion in this respect.
The religious ties between Swat and Persia, during the Achaemenian era, seem to be strong enough. Gandahara was contiguous to Persia where Zoroastrianism has reached to its peak; the valley might be affected by such development in its neighborhood. Professor A.H. Dani believes on the basis of some receptacles found in Balambat that Achaemenian religion existed in Swat. But Professor Tucci on the contrary, argues that the presence of some lamps cannot be sufficient to prove Dani's opinion. Professor Tucci calls the findings only family chapels what Dani declares (Zoroastrian religious) "fire altars".
But the most vigorous relationship between Swat and Persia was in cultural sphere. Swat remained center of cultural exchanges and foreign influences. The Archeologists have found many similar tools and artifacts, both in Iran and Swat, which shows the cultural and commercial affinities between the two regions. The pottery found at Loebanr III that includes Black-Gray Burnished and Brown Gray Gritty wares, is the expression of Iranian influence. Similarly, tools found in the graveyards of Katelai, Butkara II, In the settlements of Aligrama and Balambat also testify northern Iranian influences. Another discovery is the drawing of dogs, found in higher strata of Gogdara I. In ancient Iranian religions dogs were very impotent and the finding of dogs as main animals of rock images indicates the presence of Indo-Iranian authors in Swat. The gray vases with disk or button bases found in the Valley are being dated back to the last quarter of the 2nd millenium B.C. had also been found in northwestern Iran.Similarly a variety of tools and handicrafts appears to be used in public life both in Iran and Swat.
Swat's particular geographical position, in Asia, had exposed it to foreign influences and its historical and cultural development underwent multiple changes. The interaction of different people at different periods of time in the Valley proves that Swat evolved intimate terms with many races in the course of history. The archaeological findings here suggest the spreading of cultural and probably ethnical change too. The similarity between the tools and artifacts of the two regions is not due to the same origin of these people but to the Persian cultural influence over Swat.
Alexander In Valley Swat
The first ever mention of swat in historical documents is found in the accounts of Arrian, a Greek historian .In his arduous campaign of the East. Alexander invaded and passed en route, for the conquest of India, through swat but suffered great hardships. When he crossed river Panjkora toward Swat, 327 B.C., he marched first to attack Massaga, the biggest city of the area. The defenders, at Massaga, showed heroic courage and gave tough time to the invaders. They foiled the attempts on the city and defended it with great vigor. They at last concluded a treaty of peace with Alexander because of the death of their king, who was hit by the enemy, and also due to the introduction and use of advanced, and unfamiliar techniques and strategy by the Macedonians.
At the fall of Massaga Alexander dispatched one of his generals to Bazira and three to another city, Ora, instructing them to draw a rampart round it, and to invest it until his arrival. The inhabitants of Bazira stood firm and the matter did not go well with the Macedonians.Though Alexander directed his own march for Bazira, he himself proceeded directly against Ora and sent directions to Koinos at Bazira. After a gallant and stubborn resistance and defence, both Ora and Bazira also fell to the Macedonians. Alexander made Ora and Massaga strongholds for bridling the districts around them and the same time strengthened defences of Bazira and left Swat for his campaign of India. The inhabitants of Swat so detested the alien rule that whilst Alexander was encamped among the rivers of the Punjab that they threw off fear and renounced allegiance and enjoyed either independent or semi-independent status subsequently.