Category Archives: Archaeology

AP, TS Cross Swords over Buddhist Relics

A third century Potin coin exacavated from a Mahastupa in Phanigiri hillock of Nalgonda district | FILE photo

A third century Potin coin exacavated from a Mahastupa in Phanigiri hillock of Nalgonda district | FILE photo

New Indian Express
By Anil Kumar Published: 16th April 2016 05:35 AM

HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, which are trying to resurrect the rich Buddhist heritage sites in their respective states to attract tourists from across the world, are now in a new sort of quarrel over sharing precious relics that belong to the Buddhist era.

The claim of the two states to the historical objects that were found at Buddhist heritage sites seems to have hit a roadblock while distributing the artefacts between the sibling states even though two years have passed since the division of the united state.

Both the states are staking a claim to some precious artefacts and antiquities, particularly those belonging to the Buddhist era.

For example, the Telangana archaeology & museums department wants its AP counterpart to hand over the rare artefacts found at prime Buddhist centres like Nalgonda and Karimnagar, which had been shifted in the past to different museums in AP, to Telangana.

Similarly, AP Archaeology department officials want historical objects belonging to the Buddhist period that were found in places in Andhra, which are now in Hyderabad, to be given back to the reorganised state.

Interestingly, the chief ministers of AP and Telangana, N Chandrababu Naidu and K Chandrasekhar Rao respectively, are banking on the Buddha to woo investors from East Asian countries. As Buddhism had flourished in the Telugu land during the period of Mauryan empire and the mighty Satavahana regime, the governments of the two states have recently begun exploring the glorious past of Buddhism. Continue reading

Buddhist Sculptures Discovered in Ruins of Ancient Shrine

This sculpture, uncovered in the ancient city of Bazira, tells a Buddhist story involving Siddhartha, who later became the Gautama Buddha. Credit: Photo by Aurangzeib Khan, Courtesy ACT/Italian Archaeological Mission

This sculpture, uncovered in the ancient city of Bazira, tells a Buddhist story involving Siddhartha, who later became the Gautama Buddha.
Credit: Photo by Aurangzeib Khan, Courtesy ACT/Italian Archaeological Mission

from livescience
by Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | April 29, 2016 08:46am ET

Sculptures and carvings dating back more than 1,700 years have been discovered in the remains of a shrine and its courtyard in the ancient city of Bazira. The sculptures illustrate the religious life of the city, telling tales from Buddhism and other ancient religions.

Also called Vajirasthana, Bazira is located the in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. It was first constructed as a small town, during the second century B.C., and eventually developed into a city located within the Kushan Empire. At its peak, this empire ruled territory extending from modern-day India to central Asia.

The Kushan Empire declined during the third century A.D., at the same time that a series of earthquakes ravaged Bazira. The damage caused by the earthquakes — and the financial problems brought about by the decline of the Kushan Empire — meant that Bazira gradually fell into ruin, with the city abandoned by the end of the third century.

Today, the ruins of Bazira are located near the modern-day village of Barikot. The Italian Archaeological Mission has been excavating Bazira since 1978, gradually unearthing remains of the ancient city. [See Photos of the Ancient City Ruins and Sculptures]

The great departure
One of the sculptures, carved in green schist, depicts a prince named Siddhartha leaving a palace on a horse named Kanthaka. The sculpture likely form part of the shrine’s decoration, the archaeologists said.

According to ancient Buddhist stories, Siddhartha was a wealthy prince who lived in a palace in Kapilavastu, which is in modern-day Nepal. He lived a cloistered life, but one day he ventured outside his palace and encountered the suffering faced by common people. After this experience, he decided to leave his palace to live as a poor man in order to seek enlightenment. He later became the Gautama Buddha. [In Photos: An Ancient Buddhist Monastery]

In the carved scene, two spirits known as yakshas support Kanthaka’s hooves, wrote archaeologist Luca Olivieri, who directs excavations at Bazira, in the Journal of Inner Asian Art and Archaeology. Meanwhile, the town goddess of Kapilavastu, who is shown wearing a crown, holds her hands together in a sign of veneration.

An unknown man — maybe a deity, Olivieri said — stands behind Kanthaka, with his left hand to his mouth and his right hand waving a scarf-like garment called an uttariya. Continue reading

Ancient Dharmachakra, rock inscription unearthed in AP

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 9.06.40 PMTimes of India
TNN | Apr 22, 2016, 01.11 AM IST

HYDERABAD: In a major discovery, officials of the AP archaeology department have unearthed a Dharmachakra carved out in stone at A Kothapalli village of Thondangi mandal in East Godavari district. They have also discovered a number of Buddhist relics including rock inscription in Brahmi script.

Unlike the popular Dharmachakra with 24 spokes depicted in the Indian flag, the one discovered at A Kothapalli bears 32 spokes. The Dharmachakra was carved out in a large rock with Brahmi script on its side. There are also other Buddhist depictions on the rock. A team of senior officials visited the site on Wednesday and Thursday .

“The Dharmachakra was not separately carved in the rock. It forms part of a rock panel with 32 spokes. We can describe it as a spoked wheel. We have also found four stone stupas of varying sizes. All these relics date back to the pre-Satavahana to Satavahana period. They were probably carved out between the 2nd century CE and the 4th century CE. We are analysing the script,” said AP archaeology director GV Ramakrishna Rao. This is the third Dharmachakra with 32 spokes discovered in the country in recent times. Earlier, a similar stone-carved Dharmachakra was unearthed at Kanaganahalli-Sannati archaeological site in Karnataka. A terracotta Dharmachakra with 32 spokes was excavated at Lumbini in Nepal.

Historical records show that the Dharmachakra in the middle of the Ashoka’s Lion Capital apparently had 32 spokes. However, the four small Dharmachakras below the Lion Capital contained 24 spokes. The 32 spokes symbolically depict the qualities or attributes of an ideal human being or the Maha Purusha. Several villages in Thondangi and Tuni mandals in East Godavari district are well known Buddhist sites. The tiny village of Adurru in particular has the Maha Stupa. Historians consider it as the first of the three famous Buddhist Maha Stupas in India, the other two being at Sarnath and Sanchi.

[link]

Survey of 100 archaeological sites in capital soon

Palistan Today
MARCH 13, 2016 BY STAFF REPORT

Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM) would survey about 100 archaeological sites in the federal capital to find out a potential site for documentation and preservation.

The department has submitted the Master Plan for `Survey, Documentation and Protection of Archaeological Sites and Monuments’ in ICT amounting Rs. 14.846 million to the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage.

Director General, DOAM, Dr. Muhammad Arif said the work on the project would be started soon after the approval of the proposal.

He said recently the department completed the excavation work on a new Buddhist archaeological site `Ban Faqiran’ atop Margalla Hills finding some antiquities.

The department would now start the preservation of the site which would enable visitors to get a glimpse of the newly discovered historical place.

[link]

Remnants of Buddhist era settlement found in Sherwan Khurd

1065123-sadaqatcopy-1457889327-274-640x480THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE
By Muhammad Sadaqat
Published: March 14, 2016

ABBOTABAD:
Villagers of Sherwan Khurd, situated some 48 kilometres north-east of Abbottabad city, have discovered an ancient settlement dating back to the Buddhist era.

However, locals may have caused damage to the historic site through a series of construction.

While speaking to The Express Tribune on Sunday, Qayyum Khan, a villager, said locals planned to construct the damaged minaret of a mosque on the site.

Pakistan scientists ‘find 1.1 million year-old stegodon tusk’

He added, “When the labourers started digging the site, they found artefacts buried 14 feet below the ground.”

They informed Abbottabad DC Ammara Khattak about the discovery. “The DC approached the archaeological department officials in Hazara University and asked them to visit the site,”
Qayyum said.

Unravelling the past

When contacted, Hazara University Archaeological Department Head Dr Shakirullah Khan said, “I visited the site and found ashy grey soil, some irregular stone slabs and mixed shreds of clay pots used during late Hindu Shahi period between seven to 11 CE.”
Continue reading

Heritage lovers question mode of renovation of Buddhist sites

Times of India
Sulogna Mehta | Mar 22, 2016, 09.29 PM IST

VISAKHAPATNAM: The reconstruction works at the Buddhist heritage sites of Thotlakonda and Bavikonda are almost over but what has not gone down well with heritage lovers and some Intach (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) members is the use of bricks and rocks brought from outside to rebuild the 2000-year-old mahastupa and other structures. They have also questioned the need for total reconstruction.

On the other hand, the state department of archaeology refuted the allegations saying that reconstruction was necessary and said all archaeological norms were followed in carrying out the works. According to the department, outside material had to be used to fill in the gaps after all the original available materials found at the site were used up.
In the 1990s, when the sites dating back to the second century BC were reconstructed, original materials, including the bricks and stones that were found at the excavated site itself such as the stone carvings, lamps, rock carvings were used without bringing any materials from outside.

An Intach member, who didn’t want to be quoted, averred, “This time, truckloads of new bricks were brought in bulk from Vijayawada while rocks were brought from Yendada and other areas in the vicinity. I don’t think the Buddhist structures were in that bad a shape to be entirely reconstructed with materials from outside. There are very a few Buddhist sites in India which are as old as Thotlakonda and Bavikonda. Even though the shape and size of the new bricks have been replicated to give them the ancient look, they are still 2016-made material after all and the original bricks can’t be spotted among them. The originality gets lost while reconstructing heritage sites in this manner.”

The actual way to renovate the sites would have been to arrest any further deterioration at the time of excavation itself. After that, materials found lying around the sites should have been preserved and used for renovation or reconstruction, keeping the height and diameter of the stupas intact, she added.

Well-known historian from the city and Intach member Edward Paul said, “There are quite a few such Buddhist sites in India, Nalanda being a prominent one. They have been preserved as they had been excavated without using modern building materials. Continue reading

Unearthed trade route sheds new light on ancient history

General-View-Aragarh-ExcavationsOrissa Post
April 05 2016 Post 0

The latest finding flies in the face of the long-held view that in Orissa the sea was the only trade route. The importance of riverine trade in the ancient economy, experts believe, is slowly becoming clear

Monalisa Patsani
Post News Network

Bhubaneswar: During the ongoing excavations at Aragarh in Puri district, experts at the Orissa Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies (OIMSEAS) have unearthed an old maritime trade route near the hills at the site, which could account for the spread of Buddhism in ancient times along the Orissa and Andhra Pradesh coast. The latest finding, experts believe, explains the preponderance of Buddhist sites in the
region.

While exploring the Daya river valley, archeologists first encountered early Buddhist sites at Kurkimundia on the banks of the Daya river, Labanagiri and Aragarh. The latest finding flies in the face of the long-held view that in ancient Orissa the sea was the only trade route. The importance of riverine trade in the ancient economy, experts believe, is slowly becoming clear.

According to studies carried out in the past, Jaugada in Ganjam district was the only trade link connecting the state to north India while there was no evidence to establish the connection with south India.

“Jaugada apart, there were no evidences available. There was nothing to establish the trade links with the southern states like Andhra Pradesh. The latest finding makes it clear that all the Buddhist settlement sites in India were established along the trade routes like Sanchi, Barhut, Vaisali and Pitalkhora,” said archaeologist Sunil Patnaik who heads OIMSEAS.

“The Buddhist sites at Kurkimundia, Labanagiri and Aragarh establish the trade links with south India and our research proves that the Daya was used for trade in that era,” he said.
The discovery of Buddhist sites along the coastal belt all the way to Andhra Pradesh, he added, has proved the existence of hitherto unknown trade routes.

The popularity of Buddhism in the state from the days of emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC contributed to the process of cultural transmission over the centuries. Evidence indicates that for nearly 1,000 years since the beginning of the Christian era, monks, merchants and adventurers kept visiting South East Asia, which with its valuable deposits of gold and tin as well as species and scented wood lured merchants. Thus the direction of Kalinga’s (the state’s ancient name) sea-faring activities was mainly towards South East Asia. Continue reading