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Stupa Court in Block A

Virtual Sirkap

The size of the Block A stupa court immediately suggests it had an important position within the ritual layout of Sirkap. Other than the Block D Temple Complex, it is the largest ritual complex in Sirkap. And as we shall see later, there is some doubt as to whether the Block D Temple Complex ever housed a stupa. However, in addition to its size, a closer analysis of its location—and particularly its orientation within the city streets and city walls—offers hints to its important function within the city.

The entrance to the stupa court was not on Main Street as expected, but it opened out to Second Street/Stables instead. The intentionality of this orientation is further confirmed by the fact that the stupa itself faced towards Second Street/Stables. Further, as was suggested in the analysis of the structures of Block 1/Stables and the “off-center” orientation of the Northern Gateway, this stupa court held a privileged place in the city as the initial structure encountered by all visitors. The focus of the ritual geography of Sirkap was not on the Block D stupa, but rather on the Block A stupa court. New arrivals would most likely make initial offerings here, and the structure would showcase the power of the rulers. Support for this conclusion—that this stupa court was a locus of royal patronage—comes from its similarity to two other stupas in urban Sirkap, those in Block F and Block G; two stupas which received direct royal patronage and served as tools to express the power of the rulers.

We did offer one alternative interpretation to the exterior design of the stupa court. Marshall argues that the only entrance was onto Second Street from the north side of the structure. In our model, we added two entrances on the south side as the two deep recesses on either side of the center two “rooms” did not make much sense otherwise. We have not yet included the small artifacts that were found in this stupa court, but this would add texture to the court {future developments}.

The design of the stupas still need some small tweaks, but the general outlines are finished. Below are images from Marshall’s Taxila of the actual ruins juxtaposed with our reconstructions.

Here are a few of the images from these sources next to each other for comparison:

Marshall, Taxila, pl. 23a

Virtual Sirkap, view from same direction

Detail from Marshall, Taxila, pl. 10

Virtual Sirkap, overhead view of detail

Marshall, Taxila, pl. 23b

Virtual Sirkap, same view from same direction

Stupa Court A, Main Stupa and small votive stupa.