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Main Street and Shops

Virtual Sirkap

In virtual Sirkap, we were able to populate the shops with sellers, buyers, and goods. We used the layout of contemporary South Asian open air markets as a guide to decide what was sold where. In contemporary South Asian markets, goods of the same kind are sold in the same area. Therefore, there will be a row of shops selling fruits and vegetables, then a row of shops selling cloth and clothes, and yet another row of shops selling kitchen utensils. We followed this by designating a type of good to each block.

In Block A', which is directly across from the Block A stupa court, the visitor can buy ritual offerings such as flowers and garlands.

Block A: Garlands and Flowers

In Block B, the visitor can buy fruits and vegetables.

Block B Fruits and Vegetables

Block B Fruits and Vegetables

In Block C, the visitor can buy cloth of various types.

Block C Cloth

Block C Cloth

On the corner of Block C, there is a stupa shrine. This was the only stupa shrine we were able to model, as the rest are futher south along Main Street. The shrine dates from the first century CE, and thus was not part of the original city plan, but was certainly there in 100 CE. [4]


The foundations of the stupa were about .8 meters deep, and another 1.2 meters below these foundations, i.e. at a depth of 2 meters from the surface, Marshall found a wall running east-west. This wall belong to the early Indo-Scythian period, stratum IV-III.

Next to it, also facing the street, are a number of shops, and behind it is the remains of a large, "typically well-to-do house of the Shaka Parthian period" (house 1C') which was perhaps connected to the stupa shrine. [5] The stupa shrine in Block C is similar to those in Block E and Eall three stupa shrines had no attached rooms that could have been used by monks, and all three were attached in some way to wealthy households.


Marshall, Taxila, p. 191.

The stupa shrine in Block C is similar to those in Block E and Eall three stupa shrines had no attached rooms that could have been used by monks, and all three were attached in some way to wealthy households. [6]


Much of the argument for the function of the Block C stupashrine depends on finding a pattern with other stupa shrines which open out to the public. Thus, we include here just a bit of this analysis.

In Block E there is a small stupa shrine in courtyard a of house 1E, but it also opens onto Sixth Street, and thus it had clear public access. House 1E, similar to the house in C', was quite large, and in courtyard b Marshall uncovered a hoard of jewelry and coins. According to Marshall, the hoard was intentionally buried in a large pot (see Marshall, Taxila, p. 191). On the corner of Main Street and Seventh Street stands another stupa shrine in Block E which measured 12.2 meters by 15.2 meters. Marshall wrote,

The most noteworthy feature of Block E' is the high plinth of the stupa-shrine at its south-eastern corner fronting on to the Main Street, access to which is provided by two double flights of steps on one side from the Main Street, on another from Seventh Street . . . The house to which this stupa was attached occupied the whole width of the block between Sixth and Seventh Streets, and probably extended as far west as square 95', i.e. for a distance of 210 ft. from Main Street (Marshall, Taxila, p. 183).

Thus, this stupa shrine was attached to one of the largest houses in Sirkap. There are two possible interpretations for the evidence from the stupa shrines in Block C', Block E, and Block E' (and if the large hoard found buried by the Block D shrine could be properly dated to the Phase I, then this shrine could be included as well): one, it was quite lucrative to be the caretaker of a public stupa shrine. Or, two, that the wealthy in Sirkap used their wealth to build public shrines. Either interpretation suggests a close connection between wealth and public ritual. The stupa shrines in Block C', E, and E' (fig. 14) all indicate that their caretakers were not monks, but non-monastic city dwellers that profited from their maintenance.

Block C Stupa Shrine Aeriel View

Block C Stupa Shrine

In Block C, the visitor can buy vessels for cooking and jewelry.

Block C Cooking Vessels

Block C Gold Jewelry