In DepthArchaeology

Huge statue suggests early rise for Buddhism

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Science  22 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6297, pp. 336
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6297.336

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Summary

Archaeologists excavating at the sprawling Buddhist complex of Bhamala Stupa, north of Islamabad, at first thought they were digging up yet another stone wall. But they soon realized they had discovered the shattered remains of a massive statue—a monumental reclining Buddha that stretched more than 15 meters, the length of a shipping container. Radiocarbon dates on wood recovered from the site came back at 240 C.E. to 390 C.E.—several centuries before Buddhists were thought to have created the massive sculptures common in temples across Asia. If confirmed, the early date would make this the oldest evidence of monumental Buddhist sculpture. And big statues have big implications, because they require wealthy patrons and rulers to fund their creation.

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