Category Archives: Archaeology

Buddha idols found in temple tank debris

Archaeologist E. Sivanagi Reddy and his discovery at Motupalli village of Prakasam district.THE HINDU

Archaeologist E. Sivanagi Reddy and his discovery at Motupalli village of Prakasam district.THE HINDU

The Hindu
P. SUJATHA VARMA

Idols date back to 9th-10th centuries AD

Two stone idols of Buddha have been found in the debris of a Veerabhadra Swamy temple tank at Motupalli village in Prakasam district.

The idols date back to 9th-10th centuries AD. The discovery was made by E. Sivanagi Reddy, a Buddhist archaeologist and CEO of The Cultural Centre of Vijayawada as part of his survey of the area on Saturday.

Assisted by Govind, sarpanch of Rudramambapuram, a hamlet in Motupalli, a local resident Dhararatha Reddy Raju and Tenali-based amateur archaeologist K. Venkateswara Rao, Mr. Nagireddy pored over the area and identified a few pot shreds, Chinese enamel ware and fragments of shell bangles, all dated to the Chola period.

In the vicinity, a huge red colour earthenware (a jar) and three terracotta rings with a din of 4-0 ft and 1-ft-high also dating back to the Chola era were found.

The left palm of the Buddha idol has a motif of a Dharmachakra, similar to an idol found in Amaravati earlier, also belonging to the 9th-10th centuries AD. Another Buddha idol carved in black basalt stone was also found in the debris. Mr. Nagireddy said the articles discovered were of great historic significance.

He said that excavations taken up by the Department of Archaeology in the 1970s yielded Chinese ware and copper coins of the Ming dynasty, coins belonging to the Chola era and bronze articles and pottery at the port area confirming that Motupalli had served as an international port town during the medieval period.

Mr. Nagireddy explained to the local residents the historical significance of Motupalli and Rudramambapuram village. Instead of waiting for Government officials they could enlighten others in the village about the need to preserve heritage for posterity and contribute their mite in achieving the same. He said a scientific probe would bring to the fore the cultural significance of the place.

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Excavated item is perhaps from the tallest Buddhist pagoda in Japan

Fragment-from-tallest-pagoda-in-Japan-1-477x338

The fragment was found at Kinkakuji temple and is probably from a part placed atop of a pagoda. Photo Credit: The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network.

from Archaeology & Arts

The pagoda was legendary but no traces had been found so far

A fragment discovered in Kinkakuji temple at Kyoto, Japan, is thought to be of the tallest pagoda ever built in Japan. The announcement was made last week by the Kyoto City Archaeological Research Institute.

The fragment is part of a sorin, a decorative part placed at the kurin, a circular part at the top of a pagoda. The item is made of bronze, it is 37.4 cm wide, 24.6 cm long, 1.5 cm thick and weighs 8.2 kilos. It is therefore estimated that the diameter of the kurin was about 2.4 metres.

The pagoda that experts believe the fragment belonged to was called Kitayama Daito, and it was found during excavations at a parking area. It is from the Muromachi period and the pagoda is thought to have been built by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the third shogun of the Muromachi shogunate. He is said to have built two huge pagodas, one 109 metres tall, at Shokokuji, and another one, Kitayamaoto, where later Kinkakuji temple was built. Both structures were burnt by lightning.

This is the first fragment of the structure found, and researchers hope it will yield useful information regarding the size and appearance of the pagoda. Three bronze fragments were found in total that seem to have broken off from a circular objects, but the one described here is the largest. It is made of copper with gold leafing.

According to Yoshiaki Maeda, deputy director of the Kyoto City Archaeological Research Institute, Kitayama Daito was perhaps the tallest Buddhist pagoda ever built in Japan.

According to a document from the Muromachi period, the tallest known pagoda built in Japan was about 110 metres. The new fragments suggest that Kitayama Daito was about the same size. However, no remains of its foundation have been found, and it is not known where it was located. So, according to Yoshiyuki Tomishima, associate professor of architectural history at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Engineering, it is necessary to uncover the location of the tower before we can say for sure that the fragments are from Kitayam Daito.

The parts will be on special exhibition at Kyoto City Archaeological Museum from July 9 through November 27.

NOTES
1. Asia One, http://www.newsjs.com/url.php?p=http://news.asiaone.com/news/asia/discovery-fragment-hints-japans-legendary-100m-tall-pagoda (10/07/2016)
2. The Asahi Shimbun, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/photo/AS20160709002342.html (09/07/2016)
3. The Japan News, http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003067900 (14/07/2016)

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Buddhist Relics Discovered in A Hindu Shrine in Andhra Pradesh

Buddhist-Relics-Discovered-in-A-Hindu-Shrine-in-AP-IndialivetodayIndia Live Today

Published by : Ruchira Ghosh

Andhra Pradesh, July 14: Here is some news for lovers of history and archaeology. A slice of history has come alive –on the banks of Krishna River at Pondugula in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district.

Buddhist relics pertaining to the 3rd century have been unearthed here recently. The relics may be ascribed to the Ikshvaku dynasty and its regime. All the pillars are adorned with half lotus medallions and floral designs These were later used as plinths of the Jalapeshwar temple erected by Vengi Chalukyas in the 8th century AD.

Well known archaeologist and CEO of Vijaywada’s cultural centre E Sivangi Reddy teamed up with Dr M Ravi Krishna a prominent literary historian based in Guntur , for this project.

The duo surveyed the site of the relics and were amazed to find pillars with Buddhist carvings being used as plinth for the Hindu temple. Reddy disclosed that similar Buddhist relics again hailing from Ikshvaku period had been unearthed at Manchikallu, Goli Rentala, Gurazala,Kadambapadu and Modugula et al.

These areas are located not too far from the site discovered lately. The collectively comprise what is known as Buddhist belt of the Ikshvaku era. Reddy went on to add, as per inscriptions on one of the pillars, the entire temple and its carvings were conceptualized and executed by a sculptor named Kalagarabharanacharya (literal: gem among sculptors) unfortunately one of the pillars has suffered damages owing to vagaries of weather.

Currently the site is under the protection of the Archaeological survey of India. Reddy urged that the ASI must take good care of the temple as well as the precious pillars which are now a part and parcel of the shrine in question.

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Archaeologists discover layers of Indo-Greek city in Swat

Archaeologists excavate Indo-Greek and Saka-Parthian structures at Bazira, Swat. — Dawn photo

Archaeologists excavate Indo-Greek and Saka-Parthian structures at Bazira, Swat. — Dawn photo

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2016

FAZAL KHALIQ

MINGORA: Archaeologists in their fresh excavations here at Bazira, Barikot, have discovered large layers of the Indo-Greek city with weapons and coins as well as important pottery forms imported from Greek Bactria and from the Mediterranean area in second century BCE.

Indo-Greek coins discovered during the recent excavation at Bazira, Barikot, Swat. ─ Courtesy Italian Archaeological Mission in Swat

Indo-Greek coins discovered during the recent excavation at Bazira, Barikot, Swat. ─ Courtesy Italian Archaeological Mission in Swat

Dr Luca Maria Olivieri, head of the Italian Archeological Mission in Pakistan, told Dawn that during their recent excavation in April-June his team unearthed some very important discoveries in Bazira, Swat.

The team was formed by Italian and Pakistani archaeologists, including Elisa Iori of Bologna University, Cristiano Moscatelli of Naples University and Amanullah Afridi and Syed Niaz Ali Shah of the KP Directorate of Archaeology And Museums. Excavation trainings at Barikot are funded by the Pakistan-Italian Debt Swap Programme.

Weapons, coins and pottery also found in fresh excavations
“Very little is known in the archaeology of the sub-continent about the material culture of the Indo-Greek. However, this time we discovered at Barikot ample layers associated not only to the Indo-Greek city (when the settlement was encompassed by the Defensive Wall, 2nd BCE), but also to the pre-Greek city, the Mauryan settlement (3rd BCE),” he said, adding that outside the Indo-Greek defensive wall extensive evidence of the proto-historic village (Gandhara Grave Culture; 7th-8th century BCE) were also found. Continue reading

Archaeologists discover Indo-Greek city in Swat, Pakistan

Mon, Jul 4th, 2016
New Delhi Times

Archaeologists in their fresh excavations at Bazira, Barikot, Pakistan discovered large layers of the Indo-Greek civilisation. The excavated city revealed weapons and coins as well as important pottery forms that used to be imported from Greek Bactria and from the Mediterranean area in second century BC. The archaeological team consisting of Italian and Pakistani archaeologists included Elisa Iori of Bologna University, Cristiano Moscatelli of Naples University and Amanullah Afridi and Syed Niaz Ali Shah of the KP Directorate of Archaeology and Museums.

Dr Luca Maria Olivieri, head of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan, revealed that the team unearthed some very important discoveries in Bazira, Swat during their recent excavation in April-June. Excavation trainings at Barikot are funded by the Pakistan-Italian Debt Swap Programme. “Very little is known in the archaeology of the sub-continent about the material culture of the Indo-Greek. However, this time we discovered at Barikot ample layers associated not only to the Indo-Greek city (when the settlement was encompassed by the Defensive Wall, 2nd BC), but also to the pre-Greek city, the Mauryan settlement (3rd BC),” Olivieri said. Extensive evidence of the proto-historic village (Gandhara Grave Culture; 7th-8th century BC) were also found outside the Indo-Greek defensive wall.

The recent excavations unearthed a large Temple with four pillars on the northern part of the excavated area belonging to late-Kushana era (3rd century AD). “This is the third coeval public cultic space found in the late city, and it is confirming the existence of Buddhist architecture, not connected to the mainstream stupa-cum-viharas layout of the contemporary Buddhist complexes. On the contrary, these new architecture have more in common with Central Asian coeval examples and antecedents,” Olivieri added. The pre-Greek layers were found to be artificially destroyed and obliterated along the Defensive Wall at the time of its construction, to make space to the fortification, revealing conspicuous traces of the Iron Age village (7th BC). Olivieri’s team was currently excavating one hectare with a stratigraphy from 7th BC to 3rd AD in Bazira. The area corresponded to circa 1/12 of the entire city.

“The KP government is about to acquire all the excavated areas and a large buffer area around them. We are really grateful to the efforts of the provincial department of archaeology and the government,” he said. The archaeological site of Barikot is currently one of the largest and most important sites that is set to become one of the largest and long-lasting excavation projects in Pakistan 30 years down the line. It is the only Indo-Greek city excavated at that scale, and one of the few examples of a Kushan urban settlement scientifically excavated in South Asia.”Olivieri added.

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Why we marvel at Mahasthangarh

Bogra has a far more ancient history in its land that we realise

Bogra has a far more ancient history in its land that we realise

Dhaka Tribune
Tim Steel

The origins of this very ancient site that we know today as Mahasthangarh, but which has been known through history as Pundranagara, is somewhat veiled from us by the usual mists of history.

Lying just north of Bogra, in the Rajshahi division of North Bengal, it has been subject to exploration and investigation for over two centuries; the most recent period of such work, by a joint French and Bangladesh team, has lifted a large part of that veil from the fifth century.

First identified as a site with major historic significance early in the 19th century, both the international excavations carried out there over recent years, and studies, such as that of the etymology of its ancient identity, is in some ways seen to raise more questions than answers.

The general consensus appears to identify it with a non Indo-European, non-Aryan people known as the Pundra. That mention should be made in the Mahabharatra of these people, probably about 9th century BCE, suggests that they may, indeed, have indigenous connections from beyond the Ganges basin.

Whilst there continue to be attempts to “Islamise” the site — a somewhat bizarre habit at such sites, predating Islam by as much as a thousand years in Bangladesh, we may well, however, wonder at origins even earlier than the retreat of the sea waters.

Perhaps the origins lie millennia before the apparent foundation, predating even the suggested third or fourth millennium BCE arrival of the Aryans.

Excavations of sites of the Harappa civilisation of north west India appear to suggest social settlements that may even predate those of Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Is it possible, one may well wonder, that in this site we have suggestions of a far more ancient history for the lands that are now Bangladesh than hitherto suggested?

We already have considerable evidence of pre-Common Era history of these lands as a group of independent “kingdoms,” reaching back, probably, even to the earliest times of urban development.

There seems little doubt that the wealth generated by international trade, including that with lands of Central Asia, along with what we now identify as the Southern Silk Road, linking Central Asian lands with what is now the Middle East and Europe, financed such communities.

The road to Bogra, today, to visit this extraordinary site, is itself littered with the heritage of over 5,000 years of history; and within 20km of the main site can be found, traces of over 100 Buddhist sites, together with those of both Hindu and Jain history, together with Islam of more recent centuries.

Indeed, there can be little doubt that it was the wealth of trade, and probably also social intercourse, that meant that these lands made their own significant contribution to the evolution of the three great, early, faith groups: Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.

Of these, the greatest tangible inheritance is that of Buddhism, dating from the time of Prince Gautama himself; a presence considerably amplified by the Pala Dynasty Empire of 8th to 12th centuries CE, which had its roots in North Bengal.

Crossing the bridge over the Jamuna, which, when it opened a couple of decades ago, was the World Bank’s biggest project and ninth longest bridge in the world, is still a memorable experience, whatever the season. But it is not long before any traveller knows they are entering a world so rich in history and heritage.

Just beyond the bifurcation of the road, where one heads toward such heritage treasures as Pabna, Puthia, Natore, and Rajshahi, the road heading northward, towards Bogra, passes, on the right hand side, an archaeology department sign to a little gem of Mughal period, Hindu temples — with two parts elegantly restored.

Further towards Bogra, a left hand road heads to Bhabanipur, with some more fine, early 17th century temples, and the ruins of an interesting, Mughal period palace, the home of the famous Rani Bhabani, known as the Queen of North Bengal, whose husband built the temple complex at Sirajganj.

Bogra itself is in the thick of Buddhist heritage, with its proliferation of Vihara sites.

Mahasthangarh, itself, is surrounded by such Buddhist remains, although the walled citadel itself, occupied until the 18th century, contains little that is visible within the walls and ramparts. Believed, originally, to have been founded by Hindus, to judge from the proliferation of treasures of Hindu origin during excavations early in the 20th century, there are many Buddhist sites in the immediate vicinity.

Indeed, the apparent coexistence of contemporary Hindu and Buddhist remains of both the Hindu Gupta Empire of the 4th to 6th century CE and that of the Buddhist Pala Dynasty of the 8th to 12th centuries CE, have reinforced the general belief that, despite the faith of the rulers, religious tolerance was well established in those periods.

In fact, the present day level of religious intolerance was largely absent from the lands of Bangladesh throughout most its history; Sultanate and Mughal Muslim rulers appear to have continued the practice of earlier Hindu and Buddhist rulers.

An object lesson, perhaps, for today’s Buddhist and Hindu rulers in neighbouring Myanmar and India?

North and south of the site, in immediate proximity, are fine remnants of Buddhist constructions. The site museum contains a few pieces of architectural and sculptural interest, but the National Museum in Dhaka, and the Varendra Museum in Rajshahi both hold more and better pieces, mostly of sculptural interest.

A limestone slab, found on the site in 1931, is believed to be inscribed by a royal order of the Magadha period, the vast kingdom that sprawled across much of the northern sub-continent for, perhaps, a thousand years before the Mauryan period from 4th century BCE. One of the last of the Magadha Kings is believed to have been the first significant convert, by Prince Gautama, to his Buddhist creed.

Within a circle of about 20km around the main city site, further sites, of Hindu and Buddhist origin, are plentiful, together with a few of early Muslim periods.

In immediate proximity lie such as Govinda, Mangalkot, Khulnar, and Godaibari Temples, all of which have been fully excavated, as has the beautiful, well kept site of the Bhasu Vihara.

In fact, driving on the narrow roads, especially to the north and west of the main citadel, many of the hillocks to be seen disguise unexcavated Vihara. A walk upon them will often reveal fragments of terracotta and pottery. And there are not a few visible remains of ancient mosques and temples, also, to be found.

In fact, over 30 sites, at least, remain unexcavated within that 20km circle, and archaeologists believe that there are around 100 yet to be recognised.

It continues to be a pity that accommodation to internationally acceptable standards is hard to find, for those visiting foreigners, who bring with them, not only cash, but also their cultural and social sensitivity, as well as their experience, and, sometimes, even expertise, to explore the wealth of archaeology, history, heritage, and cultural and social traditions that abound around this magnificent and, unquestionably, unforgettable gem of Bangladesh inheritance.

By any standards, for the seeker of cultural and heritage treasures, Mahasthangarh offers, simply put, a magnificent feast.

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Buddhist-era lamps found near Indo-Pak border

Times of India

TNN | May 13, 2016, 04.27 AM IST

Amritsar: Earthen lamps dating back to Gautam Buddha’s era were found by a villager near the India-Pakistan border in Amritsar district. Balwinder Singh, a resident of Bahadurnagar village situated on the border, found three earthen lamps from a mound. The three earthen lamps have unique features, and stand apart from the present-day earthen lamps. These can be hanged with a thread or a wire, and can be used as lanterns. “A few days ago, I chanced upon finding these three unique earthen lamps from the mound,” Balwinder told ToI on Thursday.

Bahadurnagar is situated close to Kotli Vasawa Singh village, where lie the remains of Buddhist civilization buried under mounds. These buried unique articles of the past are being plundered by amateur and professional artefact collectors. “Finding such archaeological objects dating back to the Buddhist era is not uncommon in this area, which once had a thriving Buddhist civilisation,” said BS Goraya, a historian. He said it was strange that despite being in the knowledge of the Punjab Department of Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museums, and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), no one took the initiative to have a detailed survey of excavation of the mounds, to preserve the remaining cultural heritage and prevent it from being looted by a few private collectors.

Balwinder said the mound had several pieces of clay pottery embedded in it or just scattered on the ground. “During rains, many such utensils come out of the mounds, and most of them are broken, but it is strange to see how they are embedded in the soil for centuries,” he said, adding that he was lucky to have found the unique lamps.

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