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Copper load of this! Company digging mine in Afghanistan unearths 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery

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posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 06:34 AM
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fascinating news out of afghanistan.... a buddhist monastery unearthed by a copper mining company...



A Chinese company digging an unexploited copper mine in Afghanistan has unearthed ancient statues of Buddha in a sprawling 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery.

Archaeologists are rushing to salvage what they can from a major 7th century B.C. religious site along the famed Silk Road connecting Asia and the Middle East.

The ruins, including the monastery and domed shrines known as 'stupas,' will likely be largely destroyed once work at the mine begins.

The ruins were discovered as labourers excavated the site on behalf of the Chinese government-backed China Metallurgical Group Corp, which wants to develop the world's second largest copper mine, lying beneath the ruins.

Historic find: Ancient Buddha statues inside a temple in Mes Aynak, south of Kabul, Afghanistan. Chinese labourers digging a copper mine made the astonishing discovery
Hanging over the situation is the memory of the Buddhas of Bamiyan — statues towering up to 180 feet high in central Afghanistan that were dynamited to the ground in 2001 by the country's then-rulers, the Taliban, who considered them symbols of paganism.

No one wants to be blamed for similarly razing history at Mes Aynak, in the eastern province of Logar. MCC wanted to start building the mine by the end of 2011 but under an informal understanding with the Kabul government, it has given archaeologists three years for a salvage excavation.

Archaeologists working on the site since May say that won't be enough time for full preservation.

Ancient: An Afghan archaeologist stands next to the remains feet of the Buddha statues discovered in Mes Aynak. The ruins, including the monastery and domed shrines known as 'stupas,' will likely be largely destroyed once work at the mine begins
The monastery complex has been dug out, revealing hallways and rooms decorated with frescoes and filled with clay and stone statues of standing and reclining Buddhas, some as high as 10 feet.

An area that was once a courtyard is dotted with stupas standing four or 5ft high.

More than 150 statues have been found so far, though many remain in place. Large ones are too heavy to be moved, and the team lacks the chemicals needed to keep small ones from disintegrating when extracted.

'That site is so massive that it's easily a 10-year campaign of archaeology,' said Laura Tedesco, an archaeologist brought in by the US Embassy to work on sites in Afghanistan. 'Three years may be enough time just to document what's there.'

Dig: A wooden Buddha statue, estimated to be about 1,400 years old, is discovered during the excavation at the sprawling 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery
Philippe Marquis, a French archaeologist advising the Afghans, said the salvage effort is piecemeal and 'minimal', held back by lack of funds and personnel.

The team hopes to lift some of the larger statues and shrines out before winter sets in this month, but they still haven't procured the crane and other equipment needed.

Around 15 Afghan archaeologists, three French advisers and a few dozen labourers are working within the 0.77-square-mile area - a far smaller team than the two dozen archaeologists and 100 labourers normally needed for a site of such size and richness.

'This is probably one of the most important points along the Silk Road,' said Marquis. 'What we have at this site, already in excavation, should be enough to fill the (Afghan) national museum.'

Deadline: Archaeologists digging at the site of the ancient ruins have three years to finish the excavations
Mes Aynak, 20 miles south of Kabul, lies in a province that is still considered a major transit route for insurgents coming from Pakistan.

In July, two US sailors were kidnapped and killed in Logar. Around 1,500 Afghan police guard the mine site and the road.

Mes Aynak's religious sites and copper deposits have been bound together for centuries — 'mes' means 'copper' in the local Dari language.

Throughout the site's history, artisanal miners have dug up copper to adorn statues and shrines.

Afghan archaeologists have known since the 1960s about the importance of Mes Aynak, but almost nothing had been excavated.

When the Chinese won the contract to exploit the mine in 2008, there was no discussion with Kabul about the ruins - only about money, security and building a railroad to transport the copper out of Logar's dusty hills.

But a small band of Afghan and French archaeologists raised a stir and put the antiquities on the agenda.

The mine could be a major boost for the Afghan economy. According to the Afghan Mining Ministry, it holds some 6 million tons of copper, worth tens of billions of dollars at today's prices. Developing the mine and related transport infrastructure will generate much needed jobs and economic activity.

Waheedullah Qaderi, a Mining Ministry official working on the antiquities issue, said MCC shares the government goal of protecting heritage while starting mining as soon as possible.


www.dailymail.co.uk...







luckily this one escaped the taliban...




posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 07:04 AM
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Wow !! Thats amazing, its such a shame they only have the 3 years, and then it will be demolished


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posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 07:16 AM
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Originally posted by ellbell
Wow !! Thats amazing, its such a shame they only have the 3 years, and then it will be demolished


hey...there are profits to be made. can't let ancient artifacts and 1000's of year old history get in the way of money. this is globalization baby, and we have to keep the wealthy going strong.



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 07:37 AM
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if even one burial grave is discovered there, the whole site can be designated more than a interesting
prayer site for travelers on the Silk-Road of antiquity.

there are both national and world-wide, historic preservation site designations, which may save the
site from a scar-the-Earth mining operation.... at least there's a 3 year window to explore the options
and to 3-D map the site &/or get holographic images of the statues & shrines

imagine a 'holo-deck' type of virtual reproduction of the site and the monestary



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 07:43 AM
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S&F, thanks for posting, that is really cool!

I'm sure to some people, an eroded statue of the Buddha is no different than thousands of others around the world.... it's just a crumbling rock after all. I mean realistically there are good archeology reasons not to build, or dig, in so many places around the world, that we'd have to remove half of civilization if we were to be picky that something was underneath us.

But I think it's really cool that it turns out it's a really big place -- big enough to get a stay of 3 years at least, which is not at all enough (archeology is SLOW work), but is better than nothing. I imagine nobody wanted to put the money into digging there previously even though it was known about, perhaps because they didn't know the scope of it, and the military dangers there are an obvious problem.

RC



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 07:45 AM
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The mine is projected to raise billions of dollars. I say whoever will be on the receiving end of those billions (the Chinese company?) should be charged with the task of preserving everything there of historical merit. Surely this cost would be minimal in comparison to what they will be getting from the mine.

The only way that will happen is with continuous public attention to the project.



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 08:12 AM
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What I find extremely wierd is that the earliest date for Buddhas birth is 625BC but the most common date is around 563BC yet this is a 7th century BC Monastary.

I know the current Buddha is the Fourth Buddha, so the dates for the Afgan find are thought provoking indeed.



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 08:17 AM
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Originally posted by mcrom901

luckily this one escaped the taliban...





isn't it the US bombing the crap outta Afghanistan. maybe it should read, 'luckily this one escaped the US missiles/drones.




posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 08:47 AM
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Originally posted by Jamjar
What I find extremely wierd is that the earliest date for Buddhas birth is 625BC but the most common date is around 563BC yet this is a 7th century BC Monastary.

I know the current Buddha is the Fourth Buddha, so the dates for the Afgan find are thought provoking indeed.


Yes, exactly what I was thinking! However, there are earlier dates such as 961BC, but 563BC is the most common in Tibet.Think about this; if monastary's, stupas and statues were being built that far to the west of where Buddha gave his teachings, then he must of lived at least hundreds of years before. I also was unaware that the silk road went that far to the west. This is very interesting and raises numerous questions for me, thanks OP!

S&F.



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 08:49 AM
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reply to post by JohnySeagull
 


In 2001 the Taliban destroyed the "Buddhas of Bamiyan".

The purpose was destroying " false idols", something forbidden by the Sharia Law.

I fear on this case we can't put blame on Americans .. Taliban seems appreciates exploding big Buddhas, maybe they just like playing with explosives.



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 09:03 AM
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Here's betting they won't get many attempts to find anything useful in there, having everything tied up at the government level etc etc



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 09:50 AM
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Originally posted by JohnySeagull

Originally posted by mcrom901

luckily this one escaped the taliban...



isn't it the US bombing the crap outta Afghanistan. maybe it should read, 'luckily this one escaped the US missiles/drones.



hey, i know what you mean.... but was merely referring to this....



re the people who did it... i don't care whether they're cia assets or whatever these people are called...

clear?



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 02:09 PM
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reply to post by mcrom901
 

I believe it's the Buddhist monks who spend years creating elaborate designs with colored sand and then intentionally destroy them to symbolize the fleeting nature of existence (or something like that). So the destruction of the Buddhist statues is a cultural disaster for outsiders, but it shouldn't faze the Buddhists. It's just too bad it was done in the name of religion instead of something worthwhile.



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 02:57 PM
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That's some ways west.
Makes you wonder how far west the chinese really were back in the day.
good find.



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 03:22 PM
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reply to post by mcrom901
 

Wow, 150, statues,cool. Now how did Buddhism reach and get established in Afghanistan? Did Buddhism seek out and reach Afghanistan or did someone's group in Afghanistan bring Buddhism there? Perhaps some Chinese decided to settle there some time ago? Was it the Theraveda monks? Did Buddhism predate Islam in Afghanistan?Guess we will find out as this unfolds and I will dig a little.
Curious find, thanks for bringing it onboard!




The Spread of Buddhism, 500s B.C - A.D. 600
This map shows how Buddhism spread from India throughout Asia. Buddhism began in northeastern India, the birthplace of Buddha, and from there spread along trade routes. By the first century it had reached China. From there it traveled to Korea and on to Japan around A.D. 600. Buddhism also took hold in Tibet during the 600s.

go.hrw.com...

Peace,
spec



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 03:44 PM
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reply to post by speculativeoptimist
 


Buddhism predates Islam by at least 1000 years according to historical record. Most likely it would not of been the Chinese as they did not become exposed to Buddhism until around the 3rd century BC, so more likely it would of been the Theravada Monks of northern India, as you said.

In fact, historians say that Tapas­su and Bhallika, two merchant broth­ers from Bac­tria, became the first disciples to receive layman’s vows. This occurred eight weeks after Shakyamuni’s (Gautama Buddha) enlightenment, traditionally ascribed to 537 BCE. Bhallika later became a monk and built a monas­tery near his home city, Balkh, near present-day Mazar-i-Sharif (Afghanistan). He brought with him eight hairs of the Buddha as relics, for which he built a stupa monument. At about this time, Bactria became part of the Achaemenid Empire of Iran.

Although as I thought about this further, it seems this date that these archeologists have put forth may not be so accurate, as it would predate Gautama Buddha's life by a few hundred years, unless historians are wrong. I guess we will have to wait and see what they (archeologists) and Buddhist scholars have to say.
edit on 16-11-2010 by LifeIsEnergy because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 04:59 PM
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reply to post by mcrom901
 


The artifacts will end up in a Western, or Chinese museum, thank to the Afghan government..

You are doing a great job their F'en puppet, I hope he gets hanged like the last puppet in Afghanistan, who thought he could stay after USSR withdrawal./

In Afghanistan, they are called country sellers.



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 05:02 PM
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I WISH I was in that discovery!!! It needs to be returned to the Tibetan Llamas!! This is an important discovery and I am just floored by it, passing this link on to everyone I know... Thanks for the heads up!



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 05:06 PM
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Originally posted by antar
I WISH I was in that discovery!!! It needs to be returned to the Tibetan Llamas!! This is an important discovery and I am just floored by it, passing this link on to everyone I know... Thanks for the heads up!


Why should it be returned to Tibet?

Are you kidding me? This is just one piece of Afghan history, and you want to take the only they have got, history. They have no future, their present is F'ed, the only thing they have is the past, and yeah, let's take that away is well.



posted on Nov, 16 2010 @ 05:15 PM
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reply to post by oozyism
 


For once I agree.

This find should be preserved and stay in Afghanistan.

Let's hope The Taliban and Western 'Art Dealers' don't get their hands on this signficant find.





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