Category Archives: Archaeology

Lost temple discovered after 1,000 years in Chengdu

Workers at a temple site that disappeared for nearly a millennium in downtown Chengdu. [Photo: Xinhua]

Workers at a temple site that disappeared for nearly a millennium in downtown Chengdu. [Photo: Xinhua]

Xinhua, June 4, 2017

Archaeologists have spent months excavating a lost temple that disappeared for nearly a millennium in downtown Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

The Fugan Temple was a famous temple that lasted from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420) to the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

Daoxuan, a famous Tang Dynasty (618-907) monk, once wrote that an official rite to pray for rain to end a persistent drought was held in front of the temple, and it rained as if the prayers had been heard in heaven.

The story was the record of how the temple got its name, Fugan, which means “perceive the blessing.”

Famous Tang Dynasty poet Liu Yuxi left a poem to commemorate the temple’s renovation, describing its heavenly appearance. The poem further noted the temple’s important role at that time.

However, the building was worn down during the later period of the Tang and Song dynasties, with all traces of the temple disappearing during wars.

Archaeologists unearthed more than 1,000 tablets inscribed with Buddhist scriptures and over 500 pieces of stone sculpture as well as glazed tiles with inscriptions.

“We have only excavated a part of the temple’s area, but already have a glimpse of its past glory,” said Yi Li, who led the excavation project.

He said they have found the temple’s foundation, ruins of surrounding buildings, wells, roads and ditches.

During the excavation, archaeologists found some 80 ancient tombs scattered near the temple, dating back to Shang and Zhou dynasties (1600-256 BC). In the temple’s surroundings, they have unearthed large amounts of household tools and utensils and building materials dating back to various periods from the Song to Ming dynasties.

Chengdu became an economic and cultural center in western China during the Sui and Tang dynasties. The temple’s discovery could greatly contribute to the study of the spread of Buddhism in China during that time, said Wang Yi, director of the Chengdu Cultural Relic Research Institute.

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Experts dig deep to trace the origin of Naga Buddha statues

The 1400-year-old Buddha idol was found recently at Banapur in Khurda district of Odisha.

THE ASIAN AGE. | AKSHAYA KUMAR SAHOO
Published : Jun 3, 2017, 4:03 am IST

The discovery was made by Prof. Anam Behera of Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, and his student Dakhineswar Jena.

Bhubaneswar: The recent discovery of Naga Buddha idol from Odisha’s Banapur area has inspired researchers to conduct further studies to establish if this cult of Buddhist sculpture was prevalent in the state or the statues were brought from other parts of the country. The discovery was made by Prof. Anam Behera of Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, and his student Dakhineswar Jena.

Not only in India, but in countries like Burma, China, Laos and Thailand, many statues are seen where the Buddha is depicted in meditation pose sheltered by a multi-headed snakes, which is depicted in Hindu mythology as Shesh Nag. In Buddhist literature, Buddha idols sheltered by multi-headed snakes are known as the Naga Buddha statues.

According to Prof. Nrusingha Sahoo, a researcher who has discovered many Buddhist sites in Odisha’s Jajpur district, it is yet to be established if the three Naga Buddha statues found in Odisha — two in Ratnagiri of Jajpur district and one in Bolangir district — were made by Odia sculptors or imported from other parts of the country.

“It requires further studies to establish if Naga Buddha statues were built in Odisha also. As far as I know, our researchers have sought the assistance from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and State Museum for further research on the statue,” says Mr Behera.

Sculpture at Odisha’s Ratnagiri. Naga Buddha Sculpture at Odisha’s Ratnagiri.

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Remains of Buddhist stupa reveal more about Vihar


Mid-day.com, By Pallavi Smart | Mumbai | Posted 03-Jun-2017

Scattered remnants of a Buddhist stupa has been found at a site near Vihar Lake

Archeological explorations have never failed to surprise people and this is definitely one of those instances of digging the past and finding something that has left a mark behind. Powai’s Vihar Lake was named after a Buddhist monastery that existed in the area centuries ago, but till date people believed that it got submerged under water. However, Mumbai University archaeology students have finally found scattered remnants of a Buddhist stupa in the area to prove that the monastery was located on a hillock near the lake.

This has been revealed under the Salcette Exploration project of the Mumbai University’s Centre of Extra-Mural Studies in association with Centre for Archaeology. A team of 18 students led by six archeology experts is working at six different sites in the city under the project.

Speaking to mid-day, Archaeologist and Culinary Anthropologist Dr Kurush Dalal said, “When the Vihar Lake came into existence in 1850, hoards of Bohomani coins were found at the site, which hinted at the existence of the monastery. However, people thought that it got lost under the water body over the years. But now we have conclusive proof regarding its existence.”

Explaining it further, journalist and archeology expert Vinayak Parab, who led the work at the site said, “Even though people believed that the structure got lost underwater, the fact that monasteries are usually built on hills, got me thinking. Hence, we started looking for a hillock in the area and found one behind IIT Bombay. Then, we started exploring the site and found scattered remnants of a stupa. Through detailed excavation we found more remains, which helped us prove that the monastery did not get submerged.”

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3 years after bifurcation, AP still waits for its share of antiquities

Sulogna Mehta | TNN | Updated: May 18, 2017, 02.23 PM IST

VISAKHAPATNAM: At a time when museums are coming up in Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts, the one in the port city is hit by acute manpower shortage. Moreover, three years have passed since the bifurcation of AP, but thousands of antiquities belonging to AP including lakhs of coins are yet to be divided between the two states and still remains with the State Archaeology Museum in Hyderabad.

“Work is under way to set up a district archaeology museum at Vizianagaram, opposite the joint collector’s bungalow. The building is complete and we are expecting it to be inaugurated within a couple of months,” K Chitti Babu, assistant director of department of archaeology and museums, said, adding that apart from three galleries, the museum will also house a ‘Hall of Fame’ and portraits of eminent personalities and royalties from Vizianagaram.

The galleries will showcase prehistoric and excavated materials from Buddhist sites, bronze sculptures, and coinages belonging to various dynasties including those belonging to the Satavahanas, Romans and colonial era, Chitti Babu said.

“The museum will require funds worth Rs 22-24 lakh, which is being released in a phased manner. There has also been a proposal to set up another museum in the old Dutch building in Srikakulam,” he added. However, the museum in the port city has acute staff shortage. “We need at least 20-25 employees including night tourist guides, administrative and clerical staff and attendants,” Chitti Babu said and referred to another problem faced by the archaeology museums in AP.

“Thousands of objet d’art excavated or found in AP have not been divided region-wise and hence they cannot be displayed in the state archaeology museums. After bifurcation, a committee was supposed to be constituted for dividing the antiquities between the two states and proposal was sent to the government from the archaeology department to constitute this body, but still it has not materialised,” he added.

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Anthology to bring history of Ghantasala to light

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A smiling Buddha idol found in Ghantasala in 2014.

The Hindu
T. Appala Naidu
APRIL 27, 2017 00:00 IST

It will be released at Ghantasala Archaeology Museum on May 9

An anthology will be brought out by the State government on Ghantasala, a prosperous sea-borne trade centre where Buddhism flourished between the 1st century and B.C and 3rd century A.D. Marking Buddha Pournami to be celebrated on May 9, the Tourism Department in support of Buddhist monks and Krishna-district based historians will release the anthology, chronicling the rise and fall of the Buddhist site, which was first reported by renowned Archaeologist Boswell (1870-71).

According to available literature, a mound (112 meters dia and 23 feet height) in Ghantasala was first excavated by archaeologist Alexander Rae, bringing the structural remnant of a Mahachaitya to light. Deputy Speaker Mandali Buddha Prasad on Wednesday told The Hindu that the anthology on the Ghantasala village and its Buddhist connection would be released at the Ghantasala Archaeology Museum on May 9.

Historians, archaeologists, epigraphists and others including academicians who shared their association with the Buddhist site will contribute their work to the anthology. Narratives on the limestone panels, coins, antiquities and sculptural panels found here during the early excavations would be documented. Presently, the village has two locations — Museum and mound — which attract the visitors from across the globe.

Conservation

A smiling Buddha statue which was sighted by the locals in an agricultural field was handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India in 2014 while a Buddha stone foot was collected from a mound and being conserved in the village.

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Ancient inscription discovered in northern Chinese cliff cave

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-26 14:50:22|Editor: MJ

SHIJIAZHUANG, April 26 (Xinhua) — Chinese archaeologists have discovered an ancient inscription carved in a cliff cave in northern China’s Hebei Province, believed to be a place of seclusion for a renowned Shaolin monk, local authorities said Wednesday.

Dating back to more than 1,400 years ago, the inscription is made up of eight big Chinese characters and several lines of smaller characters, saying “Master Sengchou once lived here for a life of religious seclusion,” according to the cultural heritage administration of Cixian County.

The inscription was carved on a smooth mountain wall in a cave near Beiyangcheng Village of Baitu Township and remains well-preserved, according to the administration.
Cultural relics scholars believe that an ancient ruin in a mountain near the village might be the temple where Sengchou promoted Zen Buddhism.

According to historical records, Sengchou was born in Hebei’s Changli County and good at martial arts. Later, he learned Buddhist doctrine at the Shaolin Temple, the birthplace of Zen Buddhism and widely believed to be a cradle of Chinese kungfu. He played a significant role in the tradition of Shaolin monks practicing martial arts.

“The discovery offers precious materials to study the history of local Buddhism and the Northern Qi Dynasty,” said Liu Xinchang, head of the history association of Handan city.

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Plan to set up archaeological museum yet to take off

The Hindu, P. Sridhar KHAMMAM APRIL 19, 2017 23:18 IST

Wait continues: Students of SR&BGNR Government Degree and PG College with their professor displaying an artefact belonging to Megalithic period at the makeshift museum on the college campus in Khammam on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: ; – G_N_RAO

A survey conducted by Archaeology Dept. in this regard a few years ago

The ambitious plan to set up an archaeological museum in Khammam to showcase and preserve the rich antiquities of the district is yet to take off.

The district encompasses megalithic sites in Khammam, an ancient Buddhist site at Nelakondapalli, and various other places of archaeological significance.

It is considered a treasure house of archaeological heritage. Excavations by the Archaeology Department at Nelakondapalli over three decades ago yielded invaluable antiquities such as red and black ware pottery, coins of Ikshvakus period and terracotta figurines.

The antiquities were reportedly shifted to various museums in the then undivided Andhra Pradesh in the absence of a museum in the district. A range of relics was discovered in an excavation carried out on the vast megalithic site situated on the sprawling SR&BGNR Government Degree and PG College here more than four years ago.

A few megalithic artefacts, including a dagger and an iron sickle, were preserved in the museum at University of Hyderabad in Hyderabad.

The students and faculty members of the history department of SR&BGNR College converted a storeroom into a makeshift museum by aesthetically designing the room to display and conserve the megalithic artefacts.

A team of Archaeology Department officials conducted a field survey at the megalithic site on the college campus as part of a plan to set up a museum a few years ago. However, it is yet to see the light of the day.

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