Category Archives: Archaeology

Inside Myanmar’s transition from isolation to openness

April 14, 2014

PBS is running a series of reports from Myanmar this week, beginning with a look at the political opening of the country and to follow with reports on how this is likely to affect culture.  


Myanmar, rocked by civil strife, has been kept isolated from the world for more than half a century. In recent years, however, the government has been proposing democratic reform and peace treaties with ethnic groups, prompting the U.S. to lift most sanctions. But how does a country move from being closed to being a more open society, and who is to gain? Jeffrey Brown reports from Myanmar.


Video lecture: Talking Art Series I: Buddhist Art in India: 2011

Louvre Abu Dhabi
08 April 2014

Buddhist Art in India
26 October 2011

Dr Aisha Bilkhair
Director of Research and Knowledge Services, National Center for Documentation & Research

Amina Taha Hussein-Okada
Chief Curator at the Guimet museum of Asiatic Art

Vincent Lefèvre
Curator in charge of Asian Arts, Agence France-Muséums

Borobudur: Pathway to Enlightenment

1999 PBS Documentary Series, Treasures of the World.  The segment on Borobudur begins 30:25.

A Point of View: The sacred and sensuous in Indian art

William Dalrymple
04 April 2014

Paintings and carvings in ancient Indian temples challenge Western ideas of the relationship between spirituality and sexuality, says writer and historian William Dalrymple.

Sculpture from temple in Khajuraho

In the early summer of 1819, a British hunting party, lost in the arid mountains of the Western Ghats, made a remarkable chance discovery.

Following a tiger into a remote and narrow river valley, the hunters stumbled onto what was soon recognised as one of the great wonders of India – the painted caves of Ajanta.

On the walls of a line of 31 caves dug into an amphitheatre of solid rock, lie the most ancient and beautiful paintings in Buddhist art, the oldest of which date from the 2nd Century BC—an otherwise lost golden age of Indian painting. Along with the frescoes of Pompeii, Ajanta represents the greatest picture gallery to survive from the ancient world and the most comprehensive depiction of civilised classical life that we have.

The Ajanta murals tell the Jataka stories of the lives of the Buddha in images of supreme elegance and grace. The artists produced images that subtly explore a wide variety of human situations, from ascetic renunciation through portraits of compassionate Bodhisattvas of otherworldly beauty swaying on the threshold of Enlightenment, through to more earthy scenes of courtly dalliance in long lost ancient Indian pleasure gardens. Continue reading

Video: New Buddhist heritage park, Nagarjunasagar, AP, India

Mar 25, 2014

Sri Parvatarama (Buddhavanam) is a theme park showcasing the Buddhist heritage of Andhra Pradesh in an area of 279 acres at Nagarjunasagar, A.P. At the center is the replica of “Amaravati Stupa” in its original dimensions, shape and design. The Stupa is veneered with sandstone sculptured panels as it was originally, taking clue from the panels available in several museums .

Artmorf is entrusted to design & sculpt the various relief panels in its original scale recreating its full glory. Sandstone reliefs will be individually crafted and veneered on the stupa exterior.
Uniqueness: On its completion the sculpture project will surpass most religious structures in the number of human figures carved in sand stone onto a single project. All this is possible with the ability to design and execute such a large challenge with meticulous detail in a timely fashion.

Buddhist heritage park to come up in A.P.

The Hindu
April 3, 2014

The Andhra Pradesh government is all set to open a Buddhist Heritage Theme Park ‘Buddhavanam’ in the State.

The heritage park will come up at Nagarjunasagar enroute to Amaravati. ‘Buddhavanam’, coming up on 279 acres of land on the left bank of Krishna River, is divided into eight segments with an elegant entrance plaza to create an ambient atmosphere of Buddhism, depicting Buddhist motifs, symbols and also ‘Dharma Chakra’, AP Tourism Development Corporation officials said. Continue reading

Nalasopara’s heritage site turns spot for junkies, drunkards

Imran Fazal
29 March 2014

Maharashtra government’s plans to develop an international centre to attract tourist towards Nalasopara’s ancient stupa, built during King Ashoka’s period, is still on paper. This has led to the sacred Buddhist stupa to turn into a spot for drunkards and junkies. MMRDA had provisioned Rs10 crore for the restoration and development of the heritage site.

The stupa stands in a deserted place, away from the chaotic city life in Nalasopara. There is no security personnel to guard the place which has ancient idols belonging to the eighth century. Continue reading

Sindh govt approves project to find depth of Mohenjodaro ruins

The International News
Zeeshan Azmat
March 26, 2014

Stupa, Mohenjo-daro. Photo Raja Ismal @ Flickr.

The Sindh government has approved a project for drilling at Mohenjodaro to ascertain the depth of the famous ruins.

“Though the archaeological site is spread over one and a half kilometres, Unesco is interested in finding how deep the remains are,” said Michael Jansen, a German professor of urban history and expert of architecture, archeology and conservation.

He was speaking on Tuesday at the second day of international moot ‘Sindh through the centuries’ organised by the Sindh Madressatul Islam University.

Prof Jansen, in his presentation during a technical session titled ‘Ancient art and architecture of Sindh’, argued that the course of the Indus River posed a threat to the Mohenjodaro ruins. “Before the river embankments were raised during the British rule in 1870 river water used to inundate the area and erode the remains.”

Continue reading

Countries Divided on Future of Ancient Buddhas

NY Times
MARCH 22, 2014

A boy walked his donkeys past a niche where a Buddha once stood in Bamian, Afghanistan.CreditMauricio Lima for The New York Times

BAMIAN, Afghanistan — They were the picture-postcard view of a rural and mostly untouched Afghanistan: ancient, towering Buddhas that became a symbol of the Taliban’s religious fanaticism and intolerance.

Now, about 13 years after the Bamian Buddhas were blasted into rubble, the world faces a new quandary: whether to leave the gaping gashes in the cliff where the giant statues once stood, to rebuild the Buddhas from what pieces were left, or to make copies of them. And, as so often happens these days between Afghanistan and its mainly Western supporters, opinion is passionately split.

The major donor countries that would have to finance any restoration say the site should be left as it is, at least for now. The Afghan government wants at least one of the statues rebuilt.

Continue reading

Excavation of Buddhist monastery underway

2014-03-20 08:04:08
TAXILA: The department of archaeology and museums of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) has initiated the final phase for the restoration of the ancient Buddhist stupa and monastery, locally called Jinna Wali Dheri, dating back to the third and the fifth century AD.

The archaeologists, accompanied by PhD scholars from various universities, have begun the excavation to preserve the site and to provide on-the-field training and research facilities at this ancient stupa and monastery, located about 13 kilometres north of the Taxila museum, on the left bank of river Haro.

The most remarkable discovery from the site were the Buddhist mural paintings. This is the site where a hand-made painting on stucco plaster was recovered for the first time in Pakistan’s history.

Dr Naseem Khan, director of the department of archaeology, explained that the excavation of this monastery, spread across 180 square metres, started between the years 2002-2004. Later, this site was excavated and preserved between the years 2007-2010, during which the site was preserved, with a $31000 grant from the US government under the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP). Continue reading