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Gandhāra was an ancient kingdom situated in the northwestern region of Pakistan, in the Peshawar valley and Potohar plateau with its capital at Taxila in modern northwestern Pakistan. 1500–1200 BC), as well as the Zoroastrian Avesta, which mentions it as Vaēkərəta, the sixth most beautiful place on earth, created by Ahura Mazda.
Gandhara was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BC.
The Sanskrit name for the region, as mentioned in the Ramayana and Mahabharata for example, was Panchanada which means "Land of the Five Rivers", and was translated to Persian as Punjab after the Muslim conquests.
The word Punjab was formally introduced in the early 17th century CE as an elision of the Persian words panj (five) and āb (water), thus meaning the (land of) five rivers, similar in meaning to the Sanskrit and Greek name for the region.
This civilization shaped subsequent cultures in South Asia and Afghanistan.
Although the archaeological site at Harappa was partially damaged in 1857 when engineers constructing the Lahore-Multan railroad used brick from the Harappa ruins for track ballast, an abundance of artefacts have nevertheless been found.
The Durranis under Ahmad Shah Durrani wrested control of Punjab only to lose it to the Sikhs after a successful rebellion which allowed Sikh armies to claim Lahore in 1759.
The Sikh Empire was ruled by Ranjit Singh with his capital based in Lahore, until its defeat by the British.
The northwestern part of South Asia, including Punjab, was repeatedly invaded or conquered by various foreign empires, including those of Tamerlane, Alexander the Great, and Genghis Khan.Punjab reached the height of its splendour during the reign of the Mughal Empire, which for a time ruled from Lahore.During the 18th century, Nader Shah’s invasion of the Mughal Empire caused Mughal authority in the Punjab to fall apart and it thus fell into chaos.14 million year old fossils of gazelle, rhinoceros, crocodile, giraffe and rodents have been found there.Punjab was part of the Indus Valley Civilization, more than 4000 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization spanned much of what is today Pakistan and eventually evolved into the Indo-Aryan civilization.
Punjab was central to the independence movements of both India and Pakistan, with Lahore being site of both the Declaration of Indian Independence, and the resolution calling for the establishment of Pakistan.