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Main Street: Shops and Shrines


The stupa court in Block A and the temple in Block D were not the only public ritual locations in the city of Sirkap. There are four other stupa shrines that open out on to Main Street: those in Block C', Block E', Block F, and Block G. There is also a small stupa in Block E that opens out onto Sixth Street. From the northern gate to Block G, of the structures that front Main Street, two types dominate: stupa shrines and shops.[1]

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The only exception seems to be the rooms opening onto Main Street at the northern end of Block E'. While they still may be shops, Robin Coningham does not identify them as such. See Coningham and Edwards, "Space and Society at Sirkap, Taxila," p. 72 fig. 7. It should be noted that Ahmed Dani challenged Marshall's assessment of these structures as shops and suggested that they could be verandahs in the front of houses. Further, he argues "no marketable antique or craftmen's quarters have been specified [by Marshall]", see Dani, The Historic City of Taxila, p. 92. While Dani's doubts are not without reason, Coningham's careful study of artifact distribution in Sirkap, and his comparison of these structures to similar ones found in Bhir Mound, push the explanation in favor of shops. Louis de La Valle´e Poussin, L'Inde Aux Temps Des Mauryas Et Des Barbares, Grecs, Scythes, Parthes Et Yue-Tchi (Paris: E. de Boccard, 1930), p. 25, cites the Ramayana as evidence for such an urban arrangement where there was "intensive commerce [and] shops were symmetrically arranged in rows on both sides of the main thoroughfares.”

The face of public life in Sirkap, then, centered on commerce and ritual, and the long north-south thoroughfare, in Dani’s words, “dominates the entire city plan.” [2] We were only able to model the remains of Main Street up to Block D. However, in the discusion below, we will refer to remains in other blocks further south in the city to help make our arguments.

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Dani, The Historic City of Taxila, p. 92.


View of Main Street, facing North (looking towards Northern Gate from Block D).