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Buddha's Bones

bq. A Buddhist body here has said it will seek a court order for display of relics of Lord Buddha discovered in a cave in Orissa during excavations in 1985. The relics, comprising a fragment of a charred bone and ashes contained in a gilded stone casket, were found during excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at Lalitgiri in Jajpur district.

bq. The casket found at Lalitgiri has no inscriptions but it closely resembles caskets discovered by Alexander Cunningham from the Maha Stupa at Sanchi in 1961. Though researchers across India had demanded the display of the relics, the ASI reportedly turned down the request for security reasons. “We don’t know whether ASI has the relics or not. Since they are sacred, they should be given to us for worship,” said Sahu. [“NewIndianExpress”:http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEQ20040505091605&Page=Q&Title=ORISSA&Topic=0&]

According to another version “I blogged last year”:http://varnam.nationalinterest.in/archives/000099.html, Buddha’s bones were discovered in a casket at Vaishaligarh, 35 kilometres from Patna. Then how did they turn up in Orissa ? To add to the mystery, the Chinese are parading what they claim is the “finger of Buddha”:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/05/26/wchina26.xml&sSheet=/portal/2004/05/26/ixportal.html. There was another news item “which explained what all bones”:http://varnam.nationalinterest.in/archives/000152.html remained after Buddha’s body was burned. There was no finger in that list.

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Troy: Did the war really happen ?

Coming soon on the big screen is the “movie Troy”:http://troymovie.warnerbros.com/, starring Brad Pitt as Achilles and his heel. But “was there a Trojan war”:http://www.archaeology.org/0405/etc/troy.html ?

bq. According to the archaeological and historical findings of the past decade especially, it is now more likely than not that there were several armed conflicts in and around Troy at the end of the Late Bronze Age. At present we do not know whether all or some of these conflicts were distilled in later memory into the “Trojan War” or whether among them there was an especially memorable, single “Trojan War.” However, everything currently suggests that Homer should be taken seriously, that his story of a military conflict between Greeks and the inhabitants of Troy is based on a memory of historical events–whatever these may have been. If someone came up to me at the excavation one day and expressed his or her belief that the Trojan War did indeed happen here, my response as an archaeologist working at Troy would be: Why not?

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Northern Qi Buddhas

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This is one of the 35 extraordinary 6th-century Chinese Buddhist statues that were accidentally unearthed in 1996 by workers leveling a school sports field in Qingzhou, a small city in Shandong Province on China’s northeast coast.

bq. Created during a 50-year period straddling the Northern Wei (386 – 534), Eastern Wei (534 – 550) and the Northern Qi (550 – 577) dynasties, the sculptures illustrate dramatic stylistic changes that occurred during that time. The unusual quantity of remaining gilding and vibrant red and green pigments on their surfaces provide a chance for the viewer to experience the impact of brightly decorated sculpture-the norm in ancient China. Many faces are gilded and some retain the remnants of painted mustaches, while the stone mandorlas-or backgrounds of the high relief sculptures-still display vibrant red pigments representing flames of light emanating from the Buddha.

bq. Northern Qi sculptors adopted a different style more akin to the Indian Gupta style. Free-standing figures were modeled wearing light, close-fitting monastic garments revealing the body contours of the wearer. Carved in the round, but with less-detail on the rear, these three-dimensional Northern Qi figures had downcast eyes- encouraging a compassionate exchange between the Buddha and the viewer below. Their low ushnishas furthered the impression that these Buddhas were more “human” and approachable. Iron hooks remaining on some sculptures indicate that independent mandorlas were attached to the statues. [From “Indian Archeology Mailing List”:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IndiaArchaeology/]

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