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In Vedic texts such as the Shatapatha Brahmana, it is mentioned that the Vedic philosopher Uddalaka Aruni (c.7th century BCE) had travelled to the region of Gandhara.

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By the ninth century, it became a dependency of the Kabul Shahis.Taxila was founded in a strategic location along the ancient "Royal Highway" that connected the Mauryan capital at Pataliputra in Bihar, with ancient Peshawar, Puṣkalāvatī, and onwards towards Central Asia via Kashmir, Bactria, and Kāpiśa.Archaeological excavations show that the city may have grown significantly during the rule of the Persian Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BCE.During this new period of Bactrian Greek rule, several dynasties (like Antialcidas) likely ruled from the city as their capital.During lulls in Greek rule, the city managed profitably on its own, to independently control several local trade guilds, who also minted most of the city's autonomous coinage. Some ruins at Taxila date to the time of the Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BCE, followed successively by Mauryan, Indo-Greek, Indo-Scythian, and Kushan periods.

Owing to its strategic location, Taxila has changed hands many times over the centuries, with many empires vying for its control.

In later Buddhist texts, the Jatakas, it is specified that Taxila was the city where Aruni and his son Setaketu each had received their education.

a Sanskrit grammar treatise dated to the 4th century BCE.

In about the 1st century BCE or 1st century CE, an Indo-Scythian king named Azilises had three mints, one of which was at Taxila, and struck coins with obverse legends in Greek and Kharoṣṭhī.

The last Greek king of Taxila was overthrown by the Indo-Scythian chief Maues around 90 BCE.

The White Huns swept over Gandhāra and Punjab around 470 CE, causing widespread devastation and destruction of Taxila's famous Buddhist monasteries and stupas, a blow from which the city would never recover.