Category Archives: Archaeology

Remains of world’s oldest sleeping Buddha statue unveiled in Pakistan

The base of the sleeping Buddha statue.

from Lion’s Roar
BY HALEIGH ATWOOD| DECEMBER 15, 2017

Officials hope the discovery will encourage tourism and religious harmony.

Last month, the remains of a 1,700-year-old reclining Buddha was unveiled in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The statue measures 48 feet long and is located near Bhamala Stupa, a ruined Buddhist stupa and National Heritage Site. Carbon dating places the statue in the 3rd century AD, reportedly making it the oldest sleeping Buddha remains discovered so far.

“This means a lot for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Archaeology department and shows its professionalism and commitment for the subject,” said Abdul Samad, the director of the province’s archaeology and museums department.

The unveiling was attended by Pakistan’s opposition leader, Imran Khan, who called the archaeological site “an asset for our country.”

Samad said the excavation of the sleeping Buddha remains took almost three years to complete. Sometime in the future, the department plans to reconstruct the entire statue with international help.

Besides the reclining Buddha, archaeologists also found more than 500 Buddhist artifacts at the Bhamala Stupa site.

The region was the centre of Buddhist civilization 2,300 years ago while under the control of Emperor Ashoka (304-232 BCE) during the Indian Mauryan Empire. Discovered in 1929, the Bhamala site is a reflection of the diverse religious history and culture that still exists in Pakistan.

There are more than two thousand Buddhist stupas and monasteries in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Most of them are square, the typical Gandharan shape, but the Bhamala Stupa is cross-shaped, which archaeologists believe means the site was used by a different sect of Buddhism. This sect was isolated, but later expanded in Kashmir and became the popular form of Buddhism.

“Pakistan [was] once the hub of religious tourism,” said Samad. “People were coming on a daily basis and visiting these religious places.”

After 9/11, Samad said tourism “almost ended” in Pakistan due to fear of Islamist militancy, but he believes that the discovery of the reclining Buddha will attract visitors once more.

“It’s been almost 18 years since this incident and during this time a new generation of Buddhists has grown up with no knowledge of their religious roots and ancient connections. I believe this discovery will attract them to visit again this much peaceful land.”

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Yama archeological dig yields its secrets

Kitsap Sun
Chris Henry,
Sept. 4, 2017

(Photo: Meegan M. Reid / Kitsap Sun)


Archaeologist Floyd Aranyosi stood a stone’s throw from Takayoshi’s general store, where in the early 20th Century he might have stopped in for homemade ice cream, a Snappy Drinks soda or a tin of Stag chewing tobacco, along with sundry imported Japanese goods.

Olympic College in Bremerton is wrapping up a three-year archaeological dig at the Yama site, where a Japanese-American community flourished at the turn of the 20th Century. Wochit

Historical photographs document the existence of the store in the Japanese-American town of Yama on the south end of Bainbridge Island near the Port Blakely Sawmill. Now, as the third and final year of an archeological dig at Yama wraps up, Aranyosi and his team from Olympic College know exactly where the store stood.

Through painstaking measurements and analysis of artifacts, they’ve mapped the town, which was home to about 200 people at its height. Colorful plastic tape winding through the ferns demarcates the road where the town’s first Model T rumbled along a wood plank surface, the Washington Hotel — owned by the Konos, one of the earliest and most influential Yama families — the bath house, the barber shop, the ballfield and a row of homes perched on the hillside.

The dig, on a 7-acre site now owned by the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Parks District, is a three-year project the college undertook in 2015 in collaboration with the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum and the Kitsap County Historical Society and Museum. Researchers are taking a multi-disciplinary approach, combining traditional archaeology with cultural anthropology, history and various scientific fields of study to better understand the people of Yama and how they lived.

The Port Blakely Sawmill, which opened in 1864, was once the largest sawmill in the world, according to the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum. The first workers were of European descent. Chinese workers who came in the 1870s were edged out by federal anti-Chinese laws. Japanese workers began arriving in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1880s, filling a labor shortage at the mill. Continue reading

Buddhist site discovered on hilltop in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh

By Express News Service | Published: 28th August 2017 09:06 AM |

GUNTUR: A new Buddhist site was discovered on a hilltop at a tiny village Putlagudem in Atchampet mandal on Sunday. A study team comprising E Siva Nagi Reddy, archaeologist, and CEO of The Cultural Centre of Vijayawada and Amaravati (CCVA), Subhakar Medasani, secretary of Vijayawada Buddha Vihara, and Govardhan, member, found the ancient Buddhist site while exploring villages in Atchampet mandal as part of the Preserve Heritage for Posterity campaign.

The team found broken pillars of a Silamandapa in front of a dilapidated Venkateswara temple on the hilltop, which is called Bhairava Gutta. The six limestone pillars bore half lotus medallions on top and bottom.

The carvings of friezes of animals and pattern designs on the pillars resemble Amaravati sculpture.

According to Siva Nagi Reddy, the Buddhist site at Putlagudem dates back to the 1st century AD of Satavahana period. Because of its location on the hilltop, the site belongs to the Seliya sect of Buddhist Sangha.

Some of the Buddhist pillars bearing half lotus medallions were used as door frames of the sanctum sanctorum of Venkateswara temple built on the hilltop some two centuries ago. Some of the pillars were appropriated as beams of the temple Maha Mandapam, which was recently demolished by treasure hunters. A broken Sivalinga and Nandi were also found at the Buddhist site. Siva Nagi Reddy appealed to the Department of Archaeology and Museums to protect and preserve the newly discovered Buddhist site for posterity.

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Germany to help Myanmar renovate temple in ancient heritage zone

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-25 10:24:26|

YANGON, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) — Germany will help Myanmar renovate the Manuha Cave Temple in Bagan ancient heritage zone in Mandalay region, said a report of the official Global New Light of Myanmar on Monday.

Manuha Temple is one of the oldest temples in the Bagan cultural zone.
The repair work will begin in January 2018 with the use of German technology, an official of the Department of Archaeology and National Museum was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Myanmar is striving for enlisting Bagan as one of the world’s cultural heritages which lies in the central part of the country with thousands of religious edifices and pagodas.
Bagan is well-known for its historic and cultural wealth. With over 3,000 Buddhist temples, monasteries, stupas and monuments, Bagan is home for Buddhist architectures, signifying the unique morals aborning interior walls of the religious edifices.

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12,000-year-old hidden village in Vavuniya

Lankaweb
Posted on October 8th, 2017
By Mullativu Shashikumar Courtesy Ceylon Today

Historical evidence of the human history of our country is traced only as far back as the arrival of the Buddha and later the arrival of Prince Vijaya. Most historical facts are drawn from stone inscriptions that are dated back to ancient times. However, most of these inscriptions don’t go beyond 2,500 years. Hence, the discovery of evidence that tells of human activities that go beyond the recorded history of the country is of paramount importance.

It is in such a context it was reported that a group of Buddhist monks are engaging in excavation work in a remote village in Vavuniya, where evidence have been unearthed of a 12,000-year-old history and 1,300-year-old Buddhist history.

To reach the remote village of Kongrayamkulam one has to travel about 25 km from the Vavuniya town towards Settikulam Divisional Secretariat Division. From there it is a journey of about 16 km to the village. The excavation site is inside the jungle adjacent to the village.

When we got there, several monks attached to the Archaeology Department of the Bhikshu University of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura were engaged in the final excavation work.

Ven. Galwewe Wimalakanthi Thera, Lecturer and Head of the Department of Archaeology at the University, was leading the team of monks.

“We wanted to look into the activities of pre-historic humans who lived in the Dry Zone, particularly on the right bank of Malwathu Oya. We commenced this task with the belief that we would be able to find archaeological information on the activities of the pre-historic humans and their settlements in Sri Lanka. Very little attention has been paid to this site in the past. Now we have found out the historical significance of this place,” the Thera said.

Stone inscriptions

He also said, “By now we have discovered seven ancient stone inscriptions, which can be dated back about 1,300 years. One of these stone inscriptions mentions a chaitya, halls of statues and Bodhi Mandapa as well as ruins of statues of the Buddha. Another stone inscription states ‘batha giri thisaha lene’, which means the cave of Ayushmath Giritissa Thera.” The most significant discovery was inside the cave. There was enough evidence there to come to the conclusion that this was indeed a site inhabited by pre-historic humans of this country.

The monks engaged in the excavation activities said the images found on the cave walls tell of the life of pre-historic humans.

“The images can be dated back to 12,000 years. We can assume that the images of animals are the ones that these pre-historic humans had hunted for food,” a monk said.

They have also found remains of various weapons, presumably used by the pre-historic humans for hunting.

Ven. Wimalakanthi Thera said, “This is a valuable archaeological site. We were able to find from one site evidence of ancient Buddhist worship as well as evidence of human settlement that goes as far as 12,000 years. With this evidence we can come to an idea how the pre-historic humans lived and hunted. We have already sent samples of these findings to an American Institute for carbon dating. Once we receive the report we will be able to publish the final findings by December.

According to Ven. Wimalakanthi Thera this is the first excavation of this scale that has been done in the Northern Province. “We have discovered weapons made of stone, some weapons made of animal bones and even small stone tools. Especially due to the absence of metal we can safely assume that these discoveries date back 12,000 years. Stone weapons are basically made up of kahanda and thiruvana. We also found two human bones. We believe that once carbon dating is finalized we can give an exact time frame to these findings.”

Analyzing evidence

At the moment, the monks are engaged in dating the stone weapons. Apart from that they are also analyzing pottery fragments, bricks and roofing tiles. “We have already completed reading the stone inscriptions. In one inscription it says that King Bhathikabhaya made a donation to the chaithya.”

It is also mentioned that there was a large aramaya in 300 BC, that is, subsequent to the arrival of Arhant Mahinda in the island.

“This is mentioned in seven stone inscriptions found in this site. We have also found Chaithya, Bodhighara, marble Buddha statues, monks’ rooms, and alms halls. Unfortunately, treasure hunters have destroyed most of these. Although the historical value of this site is undeniable, this place has been destroyed by these treasure hunters.”

Ven. Wimalakanthi Thera expressed gratitude top Mahopadyaya Professor Kanaththegoda Sadhdha Rathana Nayake Thera of the Anuradhapura Sri Lanka Bhikshu University for allowing them to carry out the excavation work.

If not for the devastating 30-year war, these discoveries would have been made much earlier. The war was the main reason why these places were destroyed. Now that evidence of pre-historic human settlements has been found in this remote village in Vavuniya, it can shed light on the evolutionary process of man from ape.

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Mega theme park to celebrate the heritage of Buddhism

The drum and dome of the Maha stupa, a replica of the Amaravati stupa, in its finishing stage. It measures 21 metres and has a diameter of 42 meters at Buddha Vanam in Nagarjunasagar.
All designs of Buddhavanam inspired from the Buddha’s Ashtangamarga or noble eight-fold path

B. Pradeep NALGONDA, SEPTEMBER 09, 2017 23:13 IST

Once upon a time, there lived King Vessantara, who ruled Sivirattha (land of Sivis). A virtuous man, he wanted to attain perfection and so donated all the precious things he had. On learning this, a ‘wicked brahmin’ from the neighbouring kingdom of Kalinga asks the king for the magical rain-bringing elephant, Peccaya. Vessantara gives it away, but earns the wrath of the people. Compelled by anger, his father Sanjaya banishes his son from glory, to the forests.

Vessantara over time also donates his chariot, horses and children to the wicked brahmin. Marvelled at his conduct, it was time for the Gods to test his generosity. This time, Lord Sakka in the guise of an ugly man appears before Vessanatara and asks for his wife, Maddi. The rest of the story is the prince’s attainment of perfection.

Of the 547 Jataka tales in Buddhism, and 10 perfections, Dana-sila (conduct of charity) by Vessantara is believed to be the last one.

The Jataka tales, life instances of the Bodhisattvas (the enlightenment being or the Buddha-to-be) are narrated by monks to devotees on full moon days. They are integral to the Buddhist culture.
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Experts identify 25 archaeological sites in Zone IV

Islamabad
AUGUST 15, 2017 BY APP

ISLAMABAD: A team of archaeological experts has identified 25 ancient archaeological sites in Zone IV of the federal capital, through its ongoing, first ever, archaeological survey.

The Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM) is conducting the survey to find potential sites for excavation, preservation and documentation, and saving the precious heritage for future generations.

The survey is being carried out by the archaeological experts who have divided Islamabad into five zones, and the objective behind the survey is to conserve the endangered archaeological sites and monuments.

“The number of identified archaeological sites and monuments has reached up to 25 in Zone IV of the capital, and most of the sites and monuments belong to the Mughal and Sikh periods,” said an official of DOAM while talking to APP.

The official said that the survey has been completed in the zone, which is the biggest zone among all five zones. The survey was discontinued due to monsoon rains and will be continued in Zone V during mid-September.

The discoveries include historical monuments, worship places of the Sikhs before partition, mosques of the Mughal period, remains of the Buddhist period and memorial of the British period wars, in the zone.

The team, conducting the survey, is comprised of archaeological experts, photographers, draftsmen and other staff members, who are recording the details of the sites for documentation and finding potential sites for excavation, said the official.

The project of conducting archaeological surveys in the capital, at the cost of Rs 2 million, was approved by National Fund for Cultural Heritage (NFCH) to address the threat of endangered sites and monuments due to climate changes and construction.

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