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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Afghan Painting Predates History

In 2001, Taleban terrorists (that's repetitive) completely destroyed two 6th-Century statues of Buddha at Bamiyan. In a strange twist of fate, behind the statues were cave complexes where the monks who built them once lived. There, French scientists have discovered paintings made possibly from walnuts and poppy seeds, which prove that oil painting techniques were being employed there some six centuries before the technique was known in the West.

A team from the European Synchotron Radiation Facility studied paintings found in 12 of the caves, and believe these may be the oldest known oil paintings in the world. The devotional wall paintings depict Buddha in colorful robes. It is theorized the work may have been carried out by itinerant artists traveling the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China and the West.

There are discussions to reconstruct the destroyed Bamiyan Buddha statues, but everyone agrees it will be a monumental task.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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