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Ancient Buddha statue unearthed

Bangkok Post, September 9, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan -- An archaeologist has discovered the remains of an ancient 19-metre-long ''reclining Buddha'' in the central Afghanistan town Bamiyan, a government official said yesterday.

A team led by Afghan archaeologist Zameryalai Tarzi had been searching for a fabled reclining statue measuring 300 metres when they made the discovery, information and culture ministry adviser Mohammad Zia Afshar said.

''The team found a 19-metre-long reclining Buddha statue and 89 other relics. Among them were three coins from Greek, Bactrian and Islamic eras,'' he said.

A book written by a Chinese pilgrim who visited Afghanistan centuries ago suggested there existed a 300-metre-long Buddha in a sleeping posture in Bamiyan, once a Buddhism centre.

Archaeologists renewed their search for it after the collapse of the Taliban regime in late 2001, which bombed and destroyed two giant standing Buddha statues that were believed to be around 1,600 years old.

''The team excavated areas southeast of the 35-metre-tall destroyed Buddha and discovered the neck and right shoulder of a sleeping Buddha statue,'' said Mr Afshar. He did not say when the discovery was made. AFP


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