Category Archives: Archaeology

In Modi’s Vadnagar, ASI searches for Hiuen Tsang’s lost monasteries

Indian Express NATION
SUNDAY, MAR 15, 2015

Written by Sumegha Gulati | New Delhi | Published on:March 14, 2015 4:45 am

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has begun excavations in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hometown Vadnagar to corroborate the nearly 1,400-year-old account of a Chinese traveller who mentioned there were 10 Buddhist monasteries in that area of Gujarat at that time.

Excavations by Gujarat State Archaeology Department between 2006 and 2010 have already unearthed monumental remains that could be of one of the monasteries.

The ASI, which began excavations on January 5 this year, has made initial discoveries that indicate that one or more Buddhist monasteries could indeed have flourished at the site.

Dr B R Mani, ASI Additional Director General, said, “As of now, we have found shards of pottery, lead, coins and many other objects. The excavation is in progress.”

Madhulika Samanta, Superintending Archaeologist, Excavation Branch (Baroda), said the purpose of ASI’s excavation was to find the “lost city” of Vadnagar mentioned in historical accounts.

In Si-Yu-Ki, or ‘The Buddhist Records of the Western World’, (the first English translation of which was published in 1884 by the Orientalist scholar Samuel Beal) the Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang (also transcribed as Hsuan Tsang and Xuan Zhuang) wrote a few sentences about “‘O-nan-to-pu-lo”, or Anandapura, the ancient name for the area around Vadnagar. Continue reading


World Religions News



This discovery is expected to offer a great deal of information about the early life of venerated scholar and saint of the Buddhist faith, Atish Dipankar, who was born over 1,000 years ago in Asia. The excavation, which lasted fifty days, began in 2013, with the Agrasar Vikrampur Foundation in collaboration with China’s Hunan Provincial Institute.

The old temple at Nateshwar has produced the discovery of two roads and a wall nearly three meters in width, as well as other evidence of an urban area in the southeast side of the site that was both busy and prosperous. Other relics have also been unearthed, including various pieces of pottery and ash pits. Other structures, called stupas, have also been found at the site. Stupas are spiritual sites that are typically constructed as mounds and usually contain relics of the Buddhist faith. These discoveries are said to be the first of their kind in the nation.

B-MYxsoCYAAeoC2Although fame came early in the life of Atish Dipankar, he did not journey into Tibet until the later years of his life. He gained followers and eventually became one of the most revered saints of Buddhism. However, his life and education remain largely a mystery. Archaeologists from both Bangladesh and China have expressed the hope that the new findings at Nateshwar would shed some light on the life of Atish Dipankar, as well as provide some insight into the rise and decline Buddhism has experienced in that part of the world. There is some speculation that the site could become a center for pilgrimage among devout Buddhists.


Smells like Nirvana: Over 500 new artefacts found at Bhamala

The Express Tribune
By Hidayat KhanPublished: March 9, 2015

Artefacts excavated at the world heritage site of Bhamala. PHOTOS COURTESY: K-P DIRECTORATE OF ARCHAEOLOGY & MUSEUMS

PESHAWAR: More than 500 potentially priceless artefacts have been unearthed at the Unesco World Heritage Site of Bhamala in Haripur as excavation has been put on hold till the beginning of next year. Some of the main discoveries were found to be damaged due to earlier illegal excavation.
The recent discoveries included terracotta artefacts, stucco sculptures, architectural elements, copper coins, iron nails, door sittings, pottery and 14 coins from the Kushan era.

Apart from natural decay, illegal excavations have resulted in widespread damage to some of the most important discoveries at the ancient Buddhist stupa. Some of the chapels on the southernmost side were found empty, while others contained stucco sculptures of varying and unique styles.
At the moment, the site’s history can be traced back to 2,000 years, but some recent discoveries sent to the US for laboratory tests could date the site even further back in history. Excavation work has been halted till next year by officials and documentation to this effect is in process.

“The most remarkable discovery from Bhamala was the Maha Puri Nirvana (death of Buddha) statue measuring 14 metres in length. It is the largest such example [depicting the death scene] found in the Gandhara civilisation,” said K-P Director Archaeology and Museums Abdul Samad.

4.Terracotta-head-from-Bhamala-2-copy Continue reading

Exploring the Buddhist treasure

The famous Kargah Buddha in Gilgit.

The famous Kargah Buddha in Gilgit.

The News on Sunday (Pakistan)
Ijlal Hussainpur February 22, 2015

Although international collaborations in research and collection of information have helped us understand the antiquity and cultural heritage of Gilgit-Baltistan, there is much that still remains to be done — predominantly in the area of heritage research
Exploring the Buddhist treasure

“The discovery of Buddhist texts in Gilgit… indicates the presence of learned communities in Gilgit and Hunza. Nor do I exclude the possibility that some stupas may still be discovered in Baltistan containing other books,” stated the legendary Italian scholar of oriental cultures and religions, Professor Giuseppe Tucci, about the cultural and religious heritage of Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region.

Owing to its location on the intersection of the Silk Road, Gilgit-Baltistan has received cultural influences from across the region. It is the region’s cultural heritage and its centuries old cross-cultural contacts with China, Central Asia, Kashmir, Tibet, Afghanistan, Iran and India that have made the region so attractive for research. Continue reading

Archaeologists, monks visit millennium-old Buddhist site

Munshigan-Pic-2Dhaka Tribune
Our Correspondent, Munshiganj

Monks and archeologists from India, China, and Korea visit the 1000-year-old Buddhist town found through excavation in Nateswar in Munshiganj yesterday
Photo- Dhaka Tribune

Archaeologists and Buddhist monks from different countries yesterday visited the remnants of an ancient Buddhist town discovered recently at Nateshwar village in Tongibari upazila of Munshiganj.

A team of 20 archaeologists and monks from India, China, and Korea visited the ancient town – thought to be around a thousand years old – as well as visiting the sadar upazila’s Bajrajogini village, which is believed to be the birthplace of Buddhist scholar Atish Dipankar.

Those present during the visit included Awami League leader Nuh-ul-Alam Lenin, who is the chief patron of the excavation initiative, the project’s Research Director Dr Sufi Mostafizur Rahman, China Buddhist Association (Tibet branch) Chairman Drub Kang, Prof Chai Huarbo from Hunan Provincial Institution of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, and Munshiganj (sadar circle) Assistant Superintendent of Police Md Emdad Hossain.

On February 16, the discovery of the archaeological site was made public at a press conference in Nateshwar.

Over the last two months, archaeologists have discovered many different structures at the site, such as octagonal piles, chambers, pedestals, etc.

Four Chinese archaeologists are accompanying 20 researchers from Bangladesh at the excavation site.

The archaeological dig will continue until the arrival of the rainy season


Survey on to identify historical monuments in A.P. Capital region


Dhyana Buddha statue at Dharanikota in Guntur District.

The Hindu
Dhyana Buddha statue at Dharanikota in Guntur District.

Ahead of commencement of works on the construction of the new Capital in Guntur District, the Department of Archaeology and Museums has undertaken a detailed survey to identify the archaeological monuments that are likely to get impacted.

The move is aimed at avoiding damages to the historical structures during the construction of swanky buildings for the Capital. “Technical assistants from the department are conducting village-to-village survey to find the historical monuments. If they find any such structure, we will first inform senior officials and later take up excavation to ascertain the age of the remnants so that they can get their place in the history texts. We are taking the assistance of villagers in this massive exercise,” Department of Archaeology and Museums Assistant Director S. Bangaraiah said. Continue reading

Major archaeological dig underway at Empress Place

A volunteer at work at a major archaeological dig at Empress Place, which occupies an area the size of 10 four-room flats. -- ST PHOTO: MELODY ZACCHEUS

A volunteer at work at a major archaeological dig at Empress Place, which occupies an area the size of 10 four-room flats. — ST PHOTO: MELODY ZACCHEUS

Straits Times (Singapore)
PUBLISHED ON FEB 13, 2015 11:48 AM


SINGAPORE – A major archaeological dig is underway at Empress Place, with 2m-deep pits dug across a 1,000 sq m area about the size of 10 four-room flats.

So far, ceramics such as a porcelain headless Buddha statue, a clay figurine of what looks like a bird, as well as beads from India have been found. Most of these date back to the 14th century.

They form part of a 400kg haul unearthed by a team from the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies since work started on Feb 2.

The project organised by the National Heritage Board hopes to unearth artefacts from the Temasek period to Singapore’s early colonial days, to add to the understanding of the Republic’s early beginnings.

The excavation, which ends on April 9, is part of the board’s effort to commemorate 31 years of archaeology in Singapore.

Mr Lim Chen Sian, lead archaeologist for the project and research fellow at the centre, said he welcomes the opportunity to excavate as such efforts are usually rare in a small and highly urbanised country like Singapore.

“Empress Place was the location of a thriving port in the early days, and any new discovery will hopefully advance our understanding of Singapore’s earliest beginnings,” said Mr Lim.

The country started paying more attention to archaeology in the 1980s, with the first major dig taking place at Fort Canning Hill.

Significant finds from this latest dig in front of Victoria Theatre and Memorial Hall will either go on display in future exhibitions or be incorporated into the national collection.