The Achaemenid Empire in South Asia and Recent Excavations at Akra in Northwest Pakistan
The impact of the Achaemenid annexation of northwestern Pakistan has remained a focus for archaeological research for more than a century. A lack of well-stratified settlements and a focus on artifacts that are not necessarily appropriate for assessing the effects of imperial control have until now obfuscated our understanding of this issue. In this article, we present the results of three seasons of excavations at Akra located in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Although research was cut short in 2001 by global events, our preliminary results indicate that the relationship between urbanism, trade, and the Achaemenid annexation was considerably more complex than previously argued by scholars. Akra experienced rapid growth in settlement at the beginning of the first millennium B.C., several centuries before the Achaemenids ruled this area, and exhibited contacts with regions in both peninsular India and Central Asia during this time. When we are able to return to Pakistan, we hope to investigate further the causes of this settlement expansion and trade.