News at Tipitaka Network
Giant reclining Buddha statue unearthed in Bamiyan
Compiled by Tipitaka Network Newsdesk, Sunday, September 21, 2008
A team of archaeologists has discovered an ancient 19-meter (62-foot) long sleeping Buddha statue in Afghanistan's central province of Bamiyan.
The statue showing the Buddha in a sleeping position which dates back to 3rd century was found by a France-based team of archaeologists led by Zemaryalai Tarzi, an Afghan archaeologist, said Mohammad Zia Afshar, an adviser to the Information and Culture Ministry.
"The team excavated areas southeast of the 35-metre-tall destroyed Buddha and discovered the neck and right shoulder of a sleeping Buddha statue," said Afshar. He did not say when the discovery was made.
"Besides finding the 19-meter long sleeping statue, the team has also discovered around 90 other relics which include several coins and ceramics from the Greek and Bactrian eras, and from Buddhist and Islamic civilizations," he said.
The team was looking for a 300-meter sleeping Buddha when they made this discovery, he said.
The existence of a 300-meter sleeping Buddha in Bamiyan was first mentioned in a book written by a Chinese pilgrim who visited Afghanistan centuries ago. Lying on the old Silk Road and linking West with the East, Bamiyan was once a thriving Buddhist centre where monks lived in caves.
Afghanistan has suffered decades of foreign interventions and civil war, and many of its historical relics, belonging to various civilizations, have been destroyed or looted.
The latest discovery has raised hopes of finding the 300-metre-long Buddha statue, Afshar said.
"So far, the neck and the right shoulder of the 19-meter sleeping statue have been unearthed," he added.
The newly discovered statue had been badly damaged, Afshar said. He said measures were being taken to protect it, and it was hoped the statue would go on public display next year.
There have been several important discoveries in Bamiyan since the Taliban militants destroyed two ancient statues of the Buddha carved into a mountainside in the Bamiyan valley in 2001.
In April 2007, scientists discovered that the world's first ever oil paintings were drawn in caves near the two destroyed statues. Samples from paintings dated to the 7th century AD. It was not until the 13th century that oil was added to paints in Europe and oil paint was not widely used in Europe till the early 15th century.
In 2006, a group of German researchers found a part of a Buddhist sutra inside the rubble of one of the two giant Buddhas. Archaeologists are working on restoring the larger of the two Buddhas in a project that is expected to take a decade.
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