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Scientists hope to rebuild Bamiyan Buddha

The Local · 25 Feb 2011, 18:08

Published: 25 Feb 2011 18:08 GMT+01:00

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Scientists from the University of Munich have examined fragments of the statues - the world's largest Buddhas - and concluded that the smaller one could be pieced together.

The two sculptures, 53 metres (173 feet) and 35 metres tall, had stood sentinel for 1,500 years in Bamiyan province before they were blown up by Islamists who believed them to be idolatrous.

Erwin Emmerling, the leader of the team sifting through hundreds of fragments, "considers a reconstruction of the smaller Buddha to be fundamentally possible," the university said in a statement.

"As far as the larger Buddha is concerned, in view of its depth (thickness) of around 12 metres, Professor Emmerling is more sceptical," it said.

Nevertheless, the university cited "political and practical" obstacles to rebuilding the precious statues.

Either a small factory would have to be built in the Bamiyan valley or some 1,400 rocks weighing up to two tonnes each would have to be transported to Germany. Japanese funding could reportedly be used to rebuild the sculptures.

They were once painted a variety of colours, the scientists said, including dark blue, pink, orange, red and white.

"The Buddhas once had an intensely colourful appearance," Emmerling said.

Based on their investigation, the scientists also dated the smaller Buddha to between the years 544 and 595. The bigger Buddha was built between 591 and 644, they said.

Story continues below…

A conference in Paris to debate the future of the Buddhas is expected to take place next week, the statement said.

The niches where they once stood overlooking Bamiyan city, the eponymous capital of the province, are being restored as a UN World Heritage site.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:56 February 25, 2011 by couchtripper
Fixing ths when there's so much more to be done that will actually benefit the Afghn peope is pathetic. Who will benefit from this? The self-important and the patronising
09:28 February 26, 2011 by raghav.s
The truth is : Statue was not blown up just because the muslims believe in idiol-less worship. At the initial stages, the nose of the Buddha statue was broken and the UNESCO allotted $20 million for repair. The Taliban requested them to allot a percent of this money for food for the starving people but the UNESCO refused. Ultimately, the statue was blown up.
12:51 February 26, 2011 by Gretl
@couchtripper, raghav.s: Other people can spend their money the way they wish. The Afghan people should be happy that someone else (Japan) is willing to pay to preserve their historical treasures when they can't put food on the table. UNESCO = United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It is not a feeding program. The money they had allocated was to preserve World Heritage sites from people unable to preserve their own culture. Everyone knows not to buy a repossessed car, because if the person couldn't make the payments, they weren't doing the maintenance. If they can't feed themselves, they certainly didn't have money to preserve a statue. And the preservation may have employed locals, thus boosting the local economy.
15:30 February 26, 2011 by Bruno53
Ridiculous! The Taliban will blow it again. Can't you see they are "fanatics"?
16:59 February 26, 2011 by wood artist
While I agree that there are many, many unfilled needs in Afghanistan, if we look at the larger picture one of the largest tasks, in fact perhaps the largest, is to rebuild a whole society. The needs include basics like food, water, sanitation, and infrastructure. However, they also include things like governance, civility, and values. Those are much harder to build (or rebuild) and can't simply be bought with money.

I'm not an expert, but if rebuilding this ancient site would help re-create a society which values its positive traditions and has pride in the good things they have done in the past, then I'm all for it. Although it might make a limited contribution to immediate needs, such as providing some jobs, it might also provide some sense that the people have a foundation upon which to build a future freer from strife. That wouldn't hurt.

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