Category Archives: Archaeology

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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Man stumbles upon rare idol of female Buddha

Archaeology enthusiast R Rathnkar Reddy at the Buddhist idols at Ippagudem village in Station Ghanpur mandal of Jangaon district Open

Telangana Today, Friday, April 14, 2017

By P. Laxma Reddy | Published: 25th Mar 2017 11:00 pm

Jangaon: Much to the delight of archaeologists and historians, a rare idol of Tara – the female Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism who appears as a female Buddha in Vajrayana Buddhism – was found at Ippagudem in Station Ghanpur mandal recently.

Archaeology and history enthusiast R Rathnakar Reddy found the black granite idol abandoned near the bund of a tank. He first mistook it for Yakshini of Jain mythology. But later, noted archaeologist and historian Emani Shivanagi Reddy confirmed it as Tara.

“It was Shivanagi Reddy who identified the idol as Tara. There is an engraved image of Buddha on the hair bun. The deity’s upper body is naked with large breasts, which is the most common description of Tara in Buddhist literature,” Rathnakar said.

Rathnakar also found a broken idol of Buddha near the black granite structure, which helped them confirm that it was Tara. Both the idols – three-ft-tall Tara and four-ft-tall Buddha – take historians and archeologists closer to the Buddhist era. It is believed that idol of Tara, which was damaged, belonged to 8th or 9th century AD.

Considering the value of the idol, Rathankar Reddy urged the State Archaeology and Museums to shift it to a museum at the earliest. He said Telangana had some followers of Buddha during the 9th and 10th centuries.

Telangana Jagruthi State secretary Sri Ramoju Haragopal visited the site at Ippaguem on Friday and urged the government to preserve the idols. Though Tara is said to be a tantric meditation deity mainly worshiped by the followers of Vajrayana Buddhism, there are several other stories about her. And some of them indicate that she belonged to Hindusim and seen as a form of Shakti.

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Famous Thotlakonda Buddhist site cries for attention

Weeds grown around the cisterns (troughs) at Buddhist site near Mangamaripeta in Visakhapatnam | RVK Rao

By Express News Service | Published: 22nd February 2017 02:02 AM

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Thotlakonda Buddhist site at Mangamaripeta in the city is in sad state of affairs with negligence of officials concerned. Tourists visiting the historical site seek minimum facilities.

Said to be a sacred place of Buddhists during 300 BC to 300 AD, the place was discovered by the Indian Navy in 1976 during an aerial survey. The excavations conducted by the department of Archaeology and Museums from 1988 to 1992 revealed the ruins of a well-established Theravada (Hinayanana Buddhism) monastery. The tourists visiting the site express their displeasure over the maintenance and lack of amenities.

The tourist spot neither has any drinking water facility nor even toilets for visitors. A number of stupas and other excavations are ill-maintained. Unwanted plants are grown almost all over the area. The site which is famous for its cisterns (troughs), which were said to be used by the Buddhists for drinking water purpose are also neglected. Weeds and waste water can be seen.

“At least a small shop should have been set up. We do not even have water facility. If we need to spend some time, minimum facilities are required,” said Adarsh Babu, a tourist from Tenali, who came along with his family.

The premises is littered with liquor bottles. It was learnt that some unidentified persons had a booze party by breaking liquor bottles. Some persons expressed displeasure over the entry of couples, who disturb with their activities. Some places, which were said to be holy for the Buddhists are defaced with names of people written. The Maha stupas, cisterns, votive platforms, kitchen complex and dining hall are major attractions at the spot. The officials have recently put up sign boards describing the places and dustbins.

However, with thick growth of waste plants grown here and there, tourists are not able to view them.

“During winter season, there are around 100 tourist footfalls per day. Tourists also visit the place during summer vacation,” said Raju, the only guide at the site.

On the issue, a tourism official said that they had set up sign boards and dustbins. He said that a good footpath was also laid and direction boards were set up showing the path. “A hall is being constructed to house a museum. Pictures of stupas and other Buddhist monuments would be displayed in the museum,” he said. The official also said that a children’s park would also be developed.

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Base for giant pagoda could be first proof of mystery temple

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
February 10, 2017 at 17:50 JST

Trench digs at the Higashi-Yuge site in Yao, Osaka Prefecture, revealed the possible foundation of a pagoda where Yugeji temple is said to have stood in the eighth century. The foundation, marked by the white lines, is 20 meters by 20 meters. (Provided by the Yao education board)
Photo/Illustraion

YAO, Osaka Prefecture–Archaeologists have found a square foundation believed to have supported a towering pagoda that was part of a mysterious temple built by a powerful Buddhist monk in the eighth century.

The discovery at the Higashi-Yuge archaeological site was announced on Feb. 9 by a cultural property research group originally founded by the Yao city government.

It could be the first archaeological evidence proving the existence of Yugeji temple, which is said to have been built here in the Nara Period (710-784) by Dokyo, a Buddhist monk.

Dokyo rose in power after winning the favor of Empress Shotoku, one of the few female rulers in Japan’s history.

Her reign started in 764 and ended with her death in 770. Dokyo fell from power after she died, and he was relegated to what is now Tochigi Prefecture. The year of his birth is not known, but records show he died in 772.

Only a few historical documents mention Yugeji temple.

The research group and the Yao education board consider the square foundation, about 20 meters by 20 meters, as invaluable evidence in the search for Yugeji temple. They are now working to preserve the site.


The foundation was found in stratum dating back to the latter half of the eighth century.

According to Kazuhisa Hakozaki, a researcher of ancient Buddhist architecture at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, the sheer size of the foundation indicates that a relatively large pagoda stood on top. Continue reading

The Case for Rebuilding the Bamiyan Buddhas to Their Original Glory

A girl watches over her sheep and goats as they graze before one of the destroyed Bamiyan Buddhas. From wsj.com

A girl watches over her sheep and goats as they graze before one of the destroyed Bamiyan Buddhas. From wsj.com

By Buddhistdoor Buddhistdoor Global | 2017-01-27 |

After a long and difficult journey across the precipices and through the blizzards of the Tian Shan mountain ranges, Xuanzang (fl. c. 602–64) finally reached the town of Bamiyan in modern-day Afghanistan. His celebrated pilgrimage to India was one of astonishing tenacity, aided by the protection of bodhisattvas from the forces of nature, and on this leg of his journey Xuanzang arrived in a valley separating the Hindu Kush from its western extension, the Koh-i-baba. The residents of Bamiyan, according to the Chinese monk, wore furs and rough woolen clothes, and made a living growing spring wheat, flowers, and fruit, and herding cows, horses, and sheep. The people had coarse, uncultivated manners, but Xuanzang admired their simple and sincere religious faith, which they expressed by carving two colossal Buddha images into the rocky northeastern hill overlooking their settlements (a third reclining Buddha recorded in Xuanzang’s journal has yet to be found).

It is not known when the affectionately bestowed nicknames for the larger Buddha, Salsal (“light shines throughout the universe”), and Shamama (“Queen Mother”) for the smaller image, came into use. Historian Mahmud ibn Wali of Balkh (b. c. 1004 or 1095) wrote in his hagiography Bahr al-Asrar: “One cannot believe that there were made by human hands.” Frédéric Bobin of Le Monde put it quite well: “For 15 centuries the two mystic colossi gazed down as the trading caravans and warring armies streamed past. Monks came from China to worship here. Others meditated in nearby caves.” (The Guardian) Until they were desecrated and destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, the Bamiyan Buddhas inspired Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim observers alike, with one mullah (who no doubt represented the tolerant Islamic community in Bamiyan) lamenting, “The statues symbolised Bamiyan.” (The Guardian)

The Alliance for the Restoration of Cultural Heritage (ARCH)* supports full restoration of the Bamiyan Buddhas and has carried out a rigorous study of eight options for rebuilding them. This is a proposal that makes many conservators at UNESCO blanch. It was UNESCO that declared in 2011 that the statues would be best remembered by their absence. “The two niches should be left empty, like two pages in Afghan history, so that subsequent generations can see how ignorance once prevailed in our country,” said Zamaryalai Tarzi, a Franco-Afghan archaeologist. (The Guardian) This is the dominant school of conservation at Bamiyan, which has been the victim of continuous political wrangling from different organizations and experts. Official UNESCO policy is based on the 1964 Venice Charter, which demands that “original material” be used for the conservation and restoration of monuments and sites, and if this rule is disregarded, there is the threat of UNESCO striking the site off its World Heritage List. Continue reading