Times of India
TNN | Mar 8, 2016, 09.48 AM IST
Kolkata: Excitement and expectation over the Moghalmari excavation site near Dantan in West Midnapore peaked on Monday as the state archeology department, which is digging up the ancient Buddhist vihara ruin, confirmed that it has found a portion of a gold crown over the weekend.
Archaeologists say the find is extremely rare since gold and silver ornaments have almost never been dug up at Buddhist excavation sites. The recovered piece, 7.5x4cm in size, looks like the tip of a crown set in a chunk of terracotta, probably part of a Buddha statue. It has been sent to the state archeology museum at Behala for further examination.
The Moghalmari vihara is gradually emerging as one of the oldest in the country, dating back to at least 6th century if not older. A large number of statuettes, pottery fragments and bronze items have been recovered from the mound since excavation re-started in January. Recently, gold coins bearing the name of Samachar Deva, a king of the pre-Pala dynasty, were dug up.
“We were stunned to find the portion of the gold crown.We feel it was part of the main Buddha statue of the vihara. Gold ornaments were normally not part of Buddha statues. But the Vajrayana sect of Buddhism worshipped what was known as the Crown Buddha. It seems this gold crown was worn by a Crown Buddha,” said Prakash Maity , the chief archaeologist at the site.
“It is possible that the Moghalmari vihara received royal patronage during the pre-Pala times from Samachar Deva, a local satrap who came into prominence in south Bengal after the fall of the Guptas in 550 AD. Notably, king Shashanka had not emerged on the scene yet.Again, while this crown might be indicative of religious harmony , Shashanka was a Shaiva and might not have been too kind towards other religions. Naturally , these matrices have to be studied while establishing the antiquity of the vihara,” Maity said.
He went on to suggest that since Moghalmari was part of an important trade route, the gold ornaments might have been gifted by traders. Two important seals have already been discovered that suggest the name of the vihara was `Sribandaka vihara’.