Category Archives: Archaeology

1st Century BC Buddhist remains found on hill in Amaravati

The Buddhist remains discovered from a hill top at Vaikunthapuram village in Amaravati region.

The Buddhist remains discovered from a hill top at Vaikunthapuram village in Amaravati region.

THe Hindu
P. SUJATHA VARMA

A clue given by residents of Vaikunthapuram, located in the capital Amaravati region, led veteran archaeologist E. Siva Nagi Reddy to Buddhist remains of 1st Century BC atop a hill in the village.

Based on information given by the villagers that a few brickbats and fragments of earthen pots were found atop the hill, Dr. Reddy, who is also CEO of the Cultural Centre of Vijayawada, embarked on a thorough exploration of the area.

Assisted by village residents Bhogineni Nageswara Rao, Subhakar Medasani and Chaitanya Ravela, he conducted a thorough search on the hill which yielded three mounds studded with brickbats and pottery in red colour. The mounds were formed on huge boulders on which a brick-built stupa was raised.

“The bricks used in construction of stupas and viharas measured 60x30x8 cm and 58x28x7 cm, invariably belonged to the Satavahana era (1st Century BC). A huge quantity of fragments of terracotta and brick tiles used to cover chaityas and viharas was also found,” explains Dr. Reddy. Continue reading

Gold crown dug up at Moghalmari in West Bengal

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.00.13 AMTimes of India
TNN | Mar 8, 2016, 09.48 AM IST

Kolkata: Excitement and expectation over the Moghalmari excavation site near Dantan in West Midnapore peaked on Monday as the state archeology department, which is digging up the ancient Buddhist vihara ruin, confirmed that it has found a portion of a gold crown over the weekend.
Archaeologists say the find is extremely rare since gold and silver ornaments have almost never been dug up at Buddhist excavation sites. The recovered piece, 7.5x4cm in size, looks like the tip of a crown set in a chunk of terracotta, probably part of a Buddha statue. It has been sent to the state archeology museum at Behala for further examination.

The Moghalmari vihara is gradually emerging as one of the oldest in the country, dating back to at least 6th century if not older. A large number of statuettes, pottery fragments and bronze items have been recovered from the mound since excavation re-started in January. Recently, gold coins bearing the name of Samachar Deva, a king of the pre-Pala dynasty, were dug up.
“We were stunned to find the portion of the gold crown.We feel it was part of the main Buddha statue of the vihara. Gold ornaments were normally not part of Buddha statues. But the Vajrayana sect of Buddhism worshipped what was known as the Crown Buddha. It seems this gold crown was worn by a Crown Buddha,” said Prakash Maity , the chief archaeologist at the site.
“It is possible that the Moghalmari vihara received royal patronage during the pre-Pala times from Samachar Deva, a local satrap who came into prominence in south Bengal after the fall of the Guptas in 550 AD. Notably, king Shashanka had not emerged on the scene yet.Again, while this crown might be indicative of religious harmony , Shashanka was a Shaiva and might not have been too kind towards other religions. Naturally , these matrices have to be studied while establishing the antiquity of the vihara,” Maity said.

He went on to suggest that since Moghalmari was part of an important trade route, the gold ornaments might have been gifted by traders. Two important seals have already been discovered that suggest the name of the vihara was `Sribandaka vihara’.

[link]

1st Century BC Buddhist remains found on hill in Amaravati

THe Hindu
P. SUJATHA VARMA

The Buddhist remains discovered from a hill top at Vaikunthapuram village in Amaravati region.

The Buddhist remains discovered from a hill top at Vaikunthapuram village in Amaravati region.

A clue given by residents of Vaikunthapuram, located in the capital Amaravati region, led veteran archaeologist E. Siva Nagi Reddy to Buddhist remains of 1st Century BC atop a hill in the village.

Based on information given by the villagers that a few brickbats and fragments of earthen pots were found atop the hill, Dr. Reddy, who is also CEO of the Cultural Centre of Vijayawada, embarked on a thorough exploration of the area.

Assisted by village residents Bhogineni Nageswara Rao, Subhakar Medasani and Chaitanya Ravela, he conducted a thorough search on the hill which yielded three mounds studded with brickbats and pottery in red colour. The mounds were formed on huge boulders on which a brick-built stupa was raised.

“The bricks used in construction of stupas and viharas measured 60x30x8 cm and 58x28x7 cm, invariably belonged to the Satavahana era (1st Century BC). A huge quantity of fragments of terracotta and brick tiles used to cover chaityas and viharas was also found,” explains Dr. Reddy.

Further excavations revealed that the Buddhist monks relied for drinking water mainly on two tanks spread in an extent of half an acre and two rock-cut cisterns.

Villagers informed that a few years ago, treasure-hunters dug up at the centre of the stupa and found a relic casket with a gold leaf, which was later handed over to the then Collector of Guntur district.

“The Buddhist remains like stupas, chaityas and viharas yielded on Vaikunthapuram hill show that Buddhism existence from 1st Century BC to the 5th Century AD, but later the region came under the influence of Saivism in the Vishnukundin era and under Vaishnavites between the 13th and 17th centuries AD. This is evident in the existence of two Venkateswara temples —one at the foot of the hill and another on the hill top,” said Dr. Reddy.

He said a 1{+s}{+t}Century BC rock-cut cave on the hill top was installed with the idol of Lord Venkateswara during the 17th century AD.

Villagers said Deepak Joe of Andhra Pradesh State Department of Archaeology had inspected the site some time back.

Dr. Reddy also stumbled upon two Siva lingas on the Krishna river bed. It appeared that the lingas surfaced recently due to receding of the river water. These Siva lingas, he said, portrayed stylistic ground art of 5th century AD (Vishnukundin era).

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Hemp shielding Ellora caves from decay for 1,500 years: Study

Times of India
Syed Rizwanullah | TNN | Mar 10, 2016, 12.13 AM IST

AURANGABAD: Archaeology experts have claimed to have found the agent – a proper mix of hemp with clay and lime plaster – that has prevented the famous Ellora caves from degrading over the 1,500 years they have been in existence.

“The use of hemp helped the caves and most of the paintings remain intact at the 6th century Unesco World Heritage site,” stated a study conducted by Manager Rajdeo Singh, a former superintending archaeological chemist of the Archaeological Survey of India’s science branch (western region), and M M Sardesai, who teaches botany at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University. The study is to be published in the March 10 issue of leading inter-disciplinary science journal Current Science.

“Cannabis sativa, popularly known as ganja or bhang, was found mixed in the clay and lime plaster at Ellora. This was confirmed by technologies such as scanning of the electron microscope, Fourier transform, infra-red spectroscopy and stereo-microscopic studies. Hemp samples were collected from areas in Jalna district near Aurangabad and also from the outskirts of Delhi. These specimens were matched with the samples found in cave number 12 of Ellora. There was no disparity. In the sample collected from the Ellora cave, we found 10% share of cannabis sativa in the mix of mud or clay plaster. This is the reason why no insect activity is found at Ellora,” Singh said in his study.

The study indicates that many valuable properties of hemp were known to Indians in the 6th century. “Hemp was extensively used in Ellora as well as by the Yadavas, who built the Deogiri (Daulatabad) fort in the 12th century. Hemp was not used in the Ajanta caves, which are about 30 rock-cut Buddhist structures dating back to the 2nd century BC. Rampant insect activity has damaged at least 25% of the paintings at Ajanta,” Singh told TOI. Continue reading

Experts disagree on religion practised at ruins older than Borobodur and Angkor Wat

Important find: Dr Mokhtar showing the furnace excavated from the archaeology site of ‘Relau Kg Chemara Jeniang’ to conference delegates at the festival site.

Important find: Dr Mokhtar showing the furnace excavated from the archaeology site of ‘Relau Kg Chemara Jeniang’ to conference delegates at the festival site.

The Star Online
BY ARNOLD LOH

Theorising that the valley’s iron smelters about 2,000 years ago practised animism, Prof Datuk Dr Mokhtar Saidin triggered a slew of questions from visiting archaeologists from around the world.

He was guiding the more than 20 archaeologists and conservationists yesterday on a tour of the Sungai Batu Archaeology Site 15km from here.

They are here to speak at the Old Kedah International Conference, held together with the Old Kedah Festival that will last till Monday. This is the first time such a big number of history experts have assembled here.

“The temple ruins we unearthed is unlike any other known in the world. Although the structure resembled Hinduism or Buddhism, this temple does not have the usual eastern or western entrance. Instead, the staircase leading into the temple has a southerly direction that aligns precisely with Mount Jerai in the distance,” Dr Mokhtar told the archaeologists.

Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism archaeology expert Prof Derek Kennet noted that Hindu temple architecture could still be seen on the brick layers of the square platform and said while it was “highly unusual” for this ancient populace to build a Hindu temple on top of the round base of a Buddhist stupa, it was not impossible.

Approached later, Kennet described the wall contours on the square platform, containing ledges, overhangs and a circular bulge, as the unmistakable wall architecture of ancient Indian temples.

“I respect Dr Mokhtar’s academic findings, though I feel that this has to be put through an academic discussion. I’m glad for this conference, which is giving us all a chance to discuss archaeological developments in the region,” he added.

The ruins of Sungai Batu have been proven to be older than Borobudur in Indonesia and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

This unknown civilisation had thrived more than 1,000 years before the first sultans formed the beginning of today’s Malaysian states.

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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