Jaulian, Pakistan

A Buddhist monastery along the Silk Road



Laser scanning the main stupa at Jualian monastery by CyArkCyArk

Expedition Overview

With a grant from USAID to create a Technology Center and help preserve Pakistan’s architectural heritage, CyArk and the Lahore University of Management Science (LUMS) worked together to digitally preserve the Jaulian monastery.  In 2014, LUMS students scanned the main stupa and surrounding features of the Jaulian monastery, sending the data on to CyArk to process and archive. The resulting documentation provides an accurate base map to monitor deterioration of the architectural, figural, and inscriptional works of the site.  This data complements existing historical documentation and conservation materials and advances the capability for planning future preservation efforts. More information on Jaulian as well as a complete list of the other sites documented from this collaboration can be viewed at http://heritage360.pk/

Panorama from within main stupa stairwell at the Jaulian Monastery Complex

Defaced Buddha statues at Jualian in Pakistan by CyArkCyArk

Introducing Jaulian

Jaulian was constructed between the 2nd and 4th centuries in the early days of Buddhist expansion out of the Indian subcontinent in the Ancient state of Gandhara. Centered around the confluence of the Kabul and Swat rivers in Modern day Pakistan and Afghanistan, the region came to prominence during the Kushan Empire between the 1st and 4th centuries CE. Jaulian is part of the Taxila archeological site, home to the ruins of a once thriving ancient city and center of learning in Gandhara. It was along the trade routes of Taxila Valley that buddhism is believed to have spread. The Buddhist monastery and associated stupas of the Jualian archaeological complex shed light on the early evolution and spread of Buddhism along the Silk Road. The complex of Jaulian consists of the main stupa and twenty-seven subsidiary stupas located around the main stupa and two adjacent courts. An additional fifty-nine chapels are located around the courts and feature scenes from the Buddha’s life. Several structures related to monastic life, including monk quarters, assembly hall, kitchen, and store room complete the complex. With access to land routes to the Parthian (Persian) Empire in the West, seaports along India’s West coast, and the Central Asian corridor of the Silk Road, Gandhara was well situated to benefit from commercial activity. The Kushan Empire fostered commerce through cultural inclusion, borrowing characteristics of their Hellenistic, Persian, and Indian influenced subjects, which allowed them to more easily engage in trade with their neighbors. This cultural fluidity is also visible in the blend of architectural features on the stupas at Jaulian, which show Greek, Persian, and Roman characteristics within the Buddhist complex.

Sunset over Jaulian ruinsCyArk

Details on some stupas in JaulianCyArk

The Many Stupas of Jaulian

A stupa, or Buddhist shrine, is a mound-like religious structure which may contain relics of the Buddha or a Buddhist saint, commemorate a holy event, or denote a sacred location. Stupas became a way to spread the living presence of the Buddha and to provide a physical manifestation of the religion to outsiders. Performing a pilgrimage to a stupa or donating money for a stupa’s creation were some of the principal ways to worship the Buddha and show adherence to the faith.At Jaulian, the main stupa features a large rectangular base decorated with plaster figures and a long staircase leading to a dome. A total of twenty-seven votive stupas surround the main stupa and feature square bases topped by circular drums and domes. Inscriptions in the Kharosthi script are located at the bottom of some of the stupas and chapels and feature the names and titles of their donors. They illustrate the importance of patronage to the spread of Buddhism in the region, and the many different classes of donors show the broad appeal and impact the religion had to many segments of society.

Open Heritage 3D by CyArkCyArk

Data from this project is now freely available through Open Heritage 3D.

Download the data from this project.

About Open Heritage 3D

The mission of the Open Heritage 3D project is to:

● Provide open access to 3D cultural heritage datasets for education, research and other
non-commercial uses.

● Minimize the technical, financial and legal barriers for publishers of 3D heritage data.

● Promote discovery and re-use of datasets through standardized metadata and data formats.

● Foster community collaboration and knowledge sharing in the 3D cultural heritage community.

● Share best practices and methodologies for the capture, processing and storage of 3D cultural heritage data

Credits: Story

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This project was made possible through the generous support of USAID and the following partners:

Lahore University of Management Sciences

Directorate of Archaeology and Museums Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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