Archaeologists have become extremely excited, yet puzzled, at a series of caves that have been found recently. Explorers have found a series of caves in which are ancient Buddhist paintings. These caves are in sheer cliffs in Nepal’s remote Himalayan north. A team was formed consisting of scholars, archaeologists, climbers and explores. This team examined at least 12 cave complexes, all the way up to 14,000 feet, near Lo Manthang. Lo Manthang is a mediaeval walled city in Nepal, and is about 80 miles northwest of Kathmandu.
The found paintings could easily date back well into the 13th century, as are the Tibetan scripts executed in ink, silver and gold, and pre-Christian pottery shards. “Who lived in those caves? When were they there, when were (the caves) first excavated and how did the residents access them, perched as they are on vertical cliffs?” Broughton Coburn, an American member of the survey team, was quoted as saying.”It’s a compelling, marvelous mystery.”
It was admittedly not an easy task to scale the cliff walls. Explorers from all over, including the united states, Italy, and Nepal used ice axes and ropes to cut steps into the cliff face as they ascended.
“These findings underscore the richness of the Tibetan Buddhist religious tradition of this area — stretching back nearly a millennium — as well as the artistic beauty and wide geographical reach of Newari artists,” said Coburn, who is an expert in Himalayan conservation and development.
The cave complexes are not found near each other. In fact, they are at least several hours in walking distance apart. Researchers believe that some have been used for burials, and are hoping mounds found may contain further treasures when dug up. There are around 20 openings in each complex, and the many floors are connected by vertical passages. It does require climbing skills to navigate throughout the complexes, as hand and footholds are not not easily found.
The caves were found to hold stupas, decorative art and paintings that depict different forms of the Buddha, often accompanied by disciples and attendants.
The site lies just north of Mount Annapurna, which happens to be the tenth highest mountain in the whole world.
Questions have been asked as to why the artifacts have remain intact and unpillaged. Coburn states this was because the area was inaccessible until just recently.
A different theme was actually found on one cave’s wall-paintings of palm trees, Indian textiles, birds and animals.
Few foreigners are currently allowed to visit the area.
originally reported By Gopal Sharma, Reuters