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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bamiyan Buddhas: Should they be rebuilt?


BBC World Service


The destruction of Afghanistan's Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001 led to global condemnation of the Taleban regime. But the decision by Unesco not to rebuild them has not put an end to the debate about their future.

When the Taliban were at the height of their power in Afghanistan, leader Mullah Omar waged a war against idolatry.

His biggest victims, in size as well as symbolism, were two standing stone Buddhist statues. Once the largest in the world - one measured 55 metres in height - they were carved into the sandstone cliff face of the Bamiyan valley in central Afghanistan during the 6th Century.

When the Taliban were overthrown in 2003, Unesco declared the valley a world heritage site and archaeologists flocked to it. What they found were two enormous empty caverns and a pile of debris littered with unexploded mines.
One of the Buddhas was 55 metres high

Since then, they have been surveying the rubble of the two stone structures to determine whether the Buddhas should be rebuilt.

The Bamiyan valley marked the most westerly point of Buddhist expansion and was a crucial hub of trade for much of the last millennium. It was a place where East met West and its archaeology reveals a blend of Greek, Turkish, Persian, Chinese and Indian influence that is found nowhere else in the world.

But last year, Unesco announced that it was no longer considering reconstruction. In the case of the bigger Buddha, it was decided there wasn't enough left to rebuild and though rebuilding the smaller one is possible, they said it is unlikely to happen.

Instead they are working with teams from Japan and Italy to secure the cracking cliff face and keep the cliffs and any of the remaining wall paintings that once covered the caves and niches intact.

But a German group of archaeological conservationists, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos), are still pushing for the Buddha to be rebuilt.......Continue Reading......


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