British Association for South Asian Studies

Research Groups

Ancient and Medieval Gandhara

Dr. M. Nasim Khan - Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology University of Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, PAKISTAN
Dr. C.A. Petrie - Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, UK


The Ancient and Medieval Gandhara Research Group is an international collective of archaeologists, numismatists, epigraphists and art historians at various stages of their careers whose research focuses on this key region of modern Pakistan. Gandhara lies in the extreme northwest corner of South Asia and for millennia it has served as a gateway between the rich plains of the subcontinent and the various regions of Central Asia.

From the beginnings of antiquarian interest in South Asia scholars were drawn to the ancient region of Gandhara, which broadly correlates with the Peshawar Valley and its surrounding areas. Gandhara or people from the region are mentioned in the Rigveda, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and the accounts of Classical historians make it clear that it was one of the three far eastern provinces of the Achaemenid Persian Empire from c.530-330 BC. Major inscriptions, including the Asokan edicts at Shahbaz Garhi, are known from the region, and it is the home of a rich tradition of Buddhist art dating to the Kushan period. Chinese pilgrims like Faxian and Xuanzang visited during the 1st millennium AD, and the remains of several major monuments that correlate to sites visited by these travellers have now been identified.

Excavations have identified settlements dating from the 3rd millennium BC onwards, and it is clear that it was extensively occupied during the Achaemenid to Kushan periods, and up to the end of the 1st millennium AD. However, despite over a century of research, there are still outstanding questions about the society, economy, political structure and environment of the region in the prehistoric and historic periods.


The members of the Ancient and Medieval Gandhara Research Group are engaged in programmes of collaborative archaeological fieldwork, scholarly research and publication. The Research Group aims to:

  • establish multi-disciplinary projects focussing on the archaeology of prehistoric and historic Gandhara and the surrounding regions,
  • apply a wide range of methodologies to carry out this research,
  • provide academic and infrastructural support to scholars working on the cultural heritage of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan,
  • encourage academic links between Pakistan and the UK, and
  • promote cultural exchange by facilitating interaction between young scholars and students from both countries.


  • Michael Alram (Austrian Academy of Sciences)
  • Shailendra Bhandare (Ashmolean Museum)
  • Joe Cribb (British Museum)
  • Elizabeth Errington (British Museum)
  • Zakirullah Jan (University of Peshawar)
  • Nasim Khan ( - University of Peshawar)
  • Peter Magee (Bryn Mawr College)
  • Justin Morris (British Museum)
  • Cameron Petrie ( - University of Cambridge)
  • Gul Rahim (University of Peshawar)
  • Farooq Swati (University of Peshawar)
  • Ruth Young (University of Leicester)