A few small vessels have been found in the " topes," as in that at Manikiala in the Punjab, which probably dates from about the Christian era; but they exhibit no remarkable character, and fragments found at Brahmanabad are hardly distinguishable from Roman glass of the imperial period.
They are Buddhist topes (Pali.
The number of topes on this and the adjoining hills is considerable.
All these topes were opened and examined by General Alexander Cunningham and Lieut.-Colonel Maisey in 1851; and the great tope has been described and illustrated by them and by James Fergusson.
The latter give the names of the donors of particular portions of the architectural ornamentation, and most of them are written in the characters used before and after the time of Asoka in the middle of the 3rd century B.C. The monuments are Buddhist, the bas-reliefs illustrate passages in the Buddhist writings, and the inscriptions make use of Buddhist technical terms. Some of the smaller topes give us names of men who lived in the Buddha's time, and others give names mentioned among the missionaries sent out in the time of Asoka.
It is not possible from the available data to fix the exact date of any of these topes, but it may be stated that the smaller topes are probably of different dates both before and after Asoka, and that it is very possible that the largest was one of three which we are told was erected by Asoka himself.
Cunningham, Bhilsa Topes (London, 1854); James Fergusson, Tree and Serpent Worship (London, 1873); General F.
The evidence from modern India can be supplemented by the medieval and ancient Indian sources, and, in particular, by the representations of the adoration of snake-deities on the Buddhist topes of Sanchi and Amravati.
There is an obvious development from the serpent qua reptile to the deity or the devil, and that the original theriomorphic form is not at once forgotten can be seen in Zeus Meilichios, Aesculapius Amynos, in the Cretan snake-goddesses, or in the Buddhist topes illustrated by Fergusson.
There are the remains of many other topes (or stupas) in the neighbourhood.
About 250 B.C. Diodotus (Theodotus), governor of Bactria under the Seleucidae, declared his independence, and commenced the history of the Greco-Bactrian dynasties, which succumbed to Parthian and nomadic movements about 126 B.C. After this came a Buddhist era which has left its traces in the gigantic sculptures at Bamian and the rock-cut topes of Haibak.