Category Archives: Archaeology

Salihundam Buddhist heritage site, museum need attention

Times of India
Sulogna Mehta | Oct 17, 2016, 19:06 IST

VISAKHAPATNAM: Salihundam has all the ingredients of becoming one of the most sprawling, beautiful Buddhist heritage sites in the state with at least a dozen excavated stupas and chaitya-grihas of various geometric patterns and shape, a museum with rock-cut statues ranging from about third to seventh century AD, a lovely landscape with well-kept lawns and greenery situated on an elevation, which offers a scenic view of the serene surroundings with the Vamshadhara River flowing down by its one side and lush paddy fields on other. Yet, just like most heritage spots of our country, this Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) site too is pushed into oblivion and shabbily maintained with no funds forthcoming for its upliftment.

Situated nearly 140 kilometres from Vizag city, in Gara mandal of Srikakulam district, a mandal already known for its famous Arasavalli (Sun God) and Srikurmam (tortoise incarnation of Lord Vishnu) temples, the Buddhist heritage site of Salihundam has some unique features. It has a beautiful star atop a stupa, rock cut massive stupas inside chaitya grihas, brick stupas with wheel pattern plan, votive stupas, inscriptions on the steps leading to the stupas and a museum housing around two dozen sculpted statues and figurines of Buddha, Jain Teerthankaras and other deities, which had been excavated from Sailihundam and a few brought from nearby areas including Ramateertham and Srimukhalingam.

But sadly, apart from the fact that it is a protected ASI site, there are no information centre, signages or boards to explain visitors about the significance of the museum structures or even their names, from where and when they were excavated. Neither is there information about the variously patterned stupas and chaityas scattered at the site. Instead, flock of sheep and herds of goats and cattle are grazing on the overgrown grass on the site. The monument attendant or multi-transport service (MTS) staff say that the site was excavated in the 1950s and that Salihundam was ruled by the Chakravarthy dynasty. However, with no authentic brochure or booklets available about this site, the veracity of the claims of the ASI staff are questionable. “We are four staff members here. The site is hardly frequented by people, except some picnickers who come for a site for picnic without interest in the archaeological aspects of the place. Rarely foreigners or tourists come here in buses,” said P Mritunjaya, an ASI staff. Continue reading


By Priyanka Das, Pune Mirror | Sep 28, 2016, 02.30 AM IST

The certificate course will help students get perspective beyond literary evidences, on socio-economic aspects and excavations

For the first time in the country, Deccan College will soon introduce a course on archaeology of Buddhism. The curriculum intends to bridge the gap between available Buddhist literature and archaeological evidences.

The four-month long certificate course was inspired by the works of Julia Shaw who carried out archaeological investigation of Sanchi and other Buddhist monuments in its vicinity as part of her theses at University of Cambridge from 1998 to 2001. Currently, she is a lecturer of South-Asian archaeology at the University College London.

“The course prepared by Shaw was a part of the MA in archaeology at the University of Cambridge in 2003. Deccan College’s course is inspired from her initiatives,” said Shrikant Ganvir, assistant professor in ancient Indian history and culture and course coordinator at the Deccan College.

The certificate course is being offered under the archaeology department. From next year onwards, the institute plans on starting two new departments namely the Buddhist archaeology department and heritage conservation department. The certificate course will then be offered under the Buddhist archaeology department for a semester.

Vasant Shinde, vice-chancellor of Deccan College, said, “In the field of archaeology, it is important to pay attention to physical evidences and not rely on just literary sources. Emphasis should be laid on gathering primary data as well.”

On the framework of the course, Ganvir explained that archaeology of religion is one of the branches of archaeological investigation. The curriculum will take students to Nalanda, Ratnagiri and Odisha for explorations. Continue reading

Efforts for archaeological tourism’s revival pledged


MINGORA: Culture activists and archaeologists here on Saturday pledged to make joint efforts for the revival and promotion of archaeological tourism in the region.

They were speaking during a seminar on Sustainable Archaeological Tourism and Role of Local Communities in Heritage Conservation at Swat Museum, Saidu Sharif.

The event was jointly organised by the Sustainable Tourism Foundation Pakistan, Archaeology Tourism Project and department of archaeology in museums with the support of Suvastu Arts and Culture Association, and Swat Archaeological Guides Association.

Civil society members, culture activists, officials of tourism department, and representatives of hotel industry, archeologists and media showed up in large numbers.

Experts say cultural, archaeological tourism a major source of foreign exchange
Aftab Rana, president of Sustainable Tourism Foundation in Pakistan, said the seminar was organised to create public awareness of sustainable archaeological tourism in Swat valley and to discuss the role of stakeholders, especially in the conservation of archaeological heritage in Swat, which was a great tourist attraction in KP.

He said sustainable tourism meant to respect local culture and avoid and damage or harm to local archaeological sites and not to spread any pollutant thing at the site.

“Majority of visitors to Swat seems to be unaware of the rich culture and archaeological heritage, so we want to promote archaeological tourism by initiating an off-season tourism and create recourses of earning to the communities living closer to the archaeological sites,” he said.

Massimo Vidale, a professor of archaeology at the University of Padova, Italy, who has been busy with excavation under the Italian archeological mission in Swat since 2000, said he was proud to be part of the Archaeological Community Tourism project with the involvement of local community in archeology in Swat. Continue reading

Conservation of historic Buddhist site delayed

Structures of Ban Faqiran atop Margalla Hills eroding away. PHOTO: FILE

Structures of Ban Faqiran atop Margalla Hills eroding away. PHOTO: FILE


By APP Published: September 26, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Conservation work at the Buddhist site `Ban Faqiran’ atop Margalla Hills in the federal capital has still not started owing to negligence of the concerned authorities.

According to an official source, excavation work on the site of 2,000 year-old `Ban Faqiran’ was completed in March and the Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM) was supposed to start conservation process. The source, added that various important archaeological sites in the capital including `Sarai Kharbuza’ and others are eroding away after being exposed to natural elements and damage by locals and lack of preservation efforts undertaken by the authorities.

The sites, after excavation, require conservation measures by experts from time to time and its preservation is supposed to continue on a regular basis in order to save the heritage site.

Excavation of the fourth heritage site of `Ban Faqiran’ in the capital was the first field activity undertaken by DOAM after the 18th amendment was passed. Antiquities excavated from the site were housed in a museum for further research, imparting education, promoting tourism and providing recreation to visitors.

The objective of this project, worth Rs2 million, was to reconstruct the ancient cultural profile, establish antiquities and explore, excavate and preserve potential archaeological sites in the federal capital, the source added.

Funds for excavation and preservation of this Buddhist site had been provided by the National Fund for Cultural Heritage (NFCH) in April 2015 and excavation work began in August 2015.

One large stupa-like square structure, measuring 10.26m a side, was excavated on top of the Margalla Hills. The structure was made out of lime and Kanjur stone, with semi-ashlar and masonry dating back from the second to the fourth century Common Era (CE). Furthermore, archaeologists recovered six coins and four iron arrowheads from the Buddhist site in what was at the time termed a major find.

A water tank and a mosque was also discovered at the site.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2016.


Ancient gold plates found in Boyolali

Lucky find: Ancient gold plates are found in a stone box in Ringinlarik village in Musuk district, Boyolali, on Sept. 7.(JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

Lucky find: Ancient gold plates are found in a stone box in Ringinlarik village in Musuk district, Boyolali, on Sept. 7.(JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

Ganug Nugroho Adi
The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Thu, September 8 2016 | 12:06 pm

Construction workers have found 22 small gold plates estimated to date back to the eighth century, in Ringilarik village, Musuk district, Boyolali in Central Java.

The workers were digging as part of activities of a water aquifer project when they hit a box made of stone. The stone box was found among rocks piled up after digging.

At the end of July, the structure of a candi (Buddhist or Hindu temple) was also found at the same location.

Sumardi, 42, one of the workers, said the box had a lid and looked like jewelry box.

Gutomo, an official with the Central Java Heritage Conservation Agency (BPCB) confirmed the gold found was 18 carats. Each plate has an inscription in ancient Javanese letters. The inscriptions are names of cardinal and ordinal directions of Dewa Lokapala’s wind Gods.

“We recorded eight names of wind Gods. We have also declared the location as a heritage site,” Gutomo said.

He said the BPCB would give compensation to those who found the plates, as well as the landowner.

Throughout 2016, Boyolali has seen three findings. In April, a brick maker found a Mahakala statue and a candi foundation when he was digging in Giriroto village in Ngemplak district.

The statue was estimated to be from the Shiva Hindu period in the ninth century. It was found at a depth of 30 centimeters. In March, at the same location, a Nandeswara statue was found.

At separate places in Nepen village, four stupas were found. One measured 1.5 meters in height with a diameter of 1 meter. (evi)


KP lacks archaeological experts to preserve priceless heritage

Pakistan Observer
September 9, 2016016

Gilgit—‘Kargha Buddha’ as one of the most potential archaeological sites in Gilgit Baltistan to explore was at the risk of ruining due to neglect by the KP provincial authorities concerned.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province having rich historical and cultural background and ancient sites lack archaeological experts to preserve the priceless heritage for the tourists and education of the upcoming generations.

‘Kargha Buddha’ is a carved rock statue located near Kargha Nallah, a ravine and is 10 kilometres away from Gilgit Town. It is one of the most admired and short-outing places, surrounded by lush green picturesque views.

The site, after devolution under 18th amendment of the constitution, comes under the jurisdiction of the provincial authorities who have not started any excavation work on the site due to lack of expertise and focus, Deputy Director, Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM) Islamabad, Abdul Ghafoor said.
Talking to APP, he said the site, if excavated and preserved, can reveal many historical facts, antiquities and help to educate the future generations about the country’s heritage along with boosting the tourist activities in the region.

Muhammad Hassan who has served as Assistant Director, DOAM, Gilgit Baltistan during the years 2001-2006 said Kargha Buddha is a Buddha sculpture in Tibetan style of 4th or 5th Century AD. The length of the statue is 40 to 50 feet while its width is yet to be estimated.
He said the rock stupas usually sustain the climatic changes of intense nature however the sites where these rock statues exist are needed to be excavated for finding antiquities and then preserved.

Although no excavation took place ever in this archeological site so far however during this time period, the experts discovered remains including a rare manuscript representing the Buddhist civilization from the surroundings of the site.

Muhammad Hassan, who is now Curator at Harrapa Museum, Punjab, said that the historical facts revealed that the Buddhist caravans mostly religious ones used to stay at the monastery here while going from Silk Road, which also is considered to be part of the monuments, towards China for trade purposes since centuries. Continue reading

Heritage site: Exploring last vestiges of ancient Buddhist monastery

The ruins of the Buddhist monastery in Takht Bhai in Mardan. PHOTO: EXPRESS

The ruins of the Buddhist monastery in Takht Bhai in Mardan. PHOTO: EXPRESS


By Hidayat Khan
Published: August 26, 2016

PESHAWAR: The ruins of Takht Bhai, ‘spring upon a rocky ridge’, do not fail to fascinate anyone who visits. Apart from the rich culture and heritage that is preserved at the site, the threads of myths woven around the Buddhist monastery, offer multiple narratives and accounts of the history of the place.

Situated on the Mardan-Swat Road, around 13 kilometres north of Peshawar, the Takht Bhai ruins date back to the 2nd century BC. It was excavated in 1836 and was declared a world heritage site by Unesco in 1980.


Sifting through accounts

Every local narrates his or her version of the historical facts about Takht Bhai.

“The ruins had underground waterways which were constructed to provide water from springs to the people living on the hills,” a local told The Express Tribune.

“A king would sit on a massive throne in the middle of these ruins and bread and meals would be prepared for him at the base of the site,” another local said.

Encounters with more people only add to the rich tales the region has created about the site.

According to archaeologists, the ruins of Takht Bhai were first excavated in 1836. At least 270 sculptures—220 made of clay, stucco and terracotta—reflecting complex iconography have been discovered and displayed at Peshawar Museum. Archaeologists believe Takht Bhai was a major ancient Buddhist monastery complex. Continue reading