Category Archives: CHINA

Mummy Found Hiding Inside Ancient Buddha Statue

Mummified monk revealed inside 1,000-year-old Buddha statue

 

 The unusual contents of the statue were discovered in the 1990s when the statue underwent restoration
The unusual contents of the statue were discovered in the 1990s when the statue underwent restoration

Scientific tests have revealed that an ancient Buddhist statue contains a 1,000-year – old mummified monk’s perfectly preserved remains in what is thought to be the only such example in the world.

The monk, who is sitting in the lotus position, is thought to have starved himself to death in an act of extreme spiritual devotion in China or Tibet in the 10th century. His preserved remains were displayed in his monastery.

Some 200 years later, perhaps after his remains started to deteriorate, his mummified body was placed inside the elaborate, lacquered statue of Buddha.

The unusual contents of the statue were discovered in the 1990s when the statue underwent restoration. Experts were unable to remove the mummy due to the risk of disintegration, so they could do little more than peer into the darkened cavity of the Buddha.

Now, an international team of German, Dutch and Italian scientists has conducted a CAT scan which revealed the monk’s skeleton in perfect detail.

“It was not uncommon for monks to practise self-mummification but to find a mummified monk inside a statue is really extraordinary,” said Wilfrid Rosendahl, a German palaeontologist who led the research.

“It’s the only known example in the world.”Using a CAT scan, we saw that there was a perfectly preserved body with skin and muscles inside the statue. It’s a complete mummy, not just a skeleton. He was aged between 30 and 50.”

The mummy has been studied by an interdisciplinary team of experts, including radio carbon dating specialists and textile analysts, at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

Using an endoscope, experts took samples from inside the mummy’s thoracic and abdominal cavities and discovered that the monk’s organs had been removed and replaced with ancient wads of paper printed with Chinese characters.

The scientists have conducted a CAT scan which revealed the monk's skeleton in perfect detail.
The scientists have conducted a CAT scan which revealed the monk’s skeleton in perfect detail. 

Samples of bone were also taken for DNA testing. The Buddha statue was bought several decades ago on the art market by a Dutch private collector, who had no idea that the mummy was hidden inside. It will go on display in museums around Europe, and is currently in the Natural History Museum in Budapest.” The monk died in a process of self-mummification,” said Dr. Rosendahl.

It was not uncommon for monks to practise self-mummification but to find a mummified monk inside a statue is really extraordinary," said Wilfrid Rosendahl
It was not uncommon for monks to practise self-mummification but to find a mummified monk inside a statue is really extraordinary,” said Wilfrid Rosendahl

During the last weeks, he would have started eating less food and drinking only water. Eventually, he would have gone into a trance, stopped breathing and died.

He basically starved himself to death.”The other monks would have put him close to a fire to dry him out and put him on display in the monastery, we think somewhere in China or Tibet.”

He was probably sitting for 200 years in the monastery and the monks then realized that he needed a bit of support and preservation so they put him inside the statue.”Mummified monks were not only the focus of religious devotion but important for the economy of the monastery because they attracted pilgrims who would offer donations.

The mummy has been studied by an interdisciplinary team of experts, including radio carbon dating specialists and textile analysts, at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.
The mummy has been studied by an interdisciplinary team of experts, including radio carbon dating specialists and textile analysts, at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

Source: livescience

3000 year old trousers discovered in Chinese grave oldest ever found

3000-year-old trousers discovered in Chinese grave oldest ever found

That’s right–1000 years before Christ’s birth these were worn. Archeologists say the two men whose remains have recently been excavated from tombs in western China put their pants on one leg at a time, just as the rest of us are doing today.

With straight-fitting legs and a wide crotch, the ancient wool trousers resemble modern riding pants, says a team led by archaeologists Ulrike Beck and Mayke Wagner of the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin.

The discoveries, uncovered in the Yanghai graveyard in China’s Tarim Basin, support previous work suggesting that nomadic herders in Central Asia invented pants to provide bodily protection and freedom of movement for horseback journeys and mounted warfare, the scientists report May 22, 2014, in Quaternary International. So not much changes – these highly decorated pants must have been someone’s pride and joy as a great deal of work has gone into them.  

The two men were around 40 years old when they died, and they were buried along with a decorated leather bridle, a decorated horsetail, a wooden horse bit, a battle-ax, whip, bow sheath, and a leather bracer for arm protection.  Their trouser design comprised three pieces of wool cloth, one for each leg and one for the crotch, which was stitched together and fastened at the waist with strings.  They were finished with woven designs on the legs.

Beck and Wagner described the trousers as “a ground-breaking achievement in the history of cloth making.”This new paper definitely supports the idea that trousers were invented for horse riding by mobile pastoralists, and that trousers were brought to the Tarim Basin by horse-riding peoples,” remarks linguist and China authority Victor Mair of the University of Pennsylvania.

Previously, Europeans and Asians wore gowns, robes, tunics, togas or — as observed on the 5,300-year-old body of Ötzi the Iceman — a three-piece combination of loincloth and individual leggings. A dry climate and hot summers helped preserve human corpses, clothing and other organic material in the Tarim Basin. More than 500 tombs have been excavated in a graveyard there since the early 1970s.

Earlier research on mummies from several Tarim Basin sites, led by Mair, identified a 2,600-year-old individual known as Cherchen Man who wore burgundy trousers probably made of wool. Trousers of Scythian nomads from West Asia date to roughly 2,500 years ago.

Mair suspects that horse riding began about 3,400 years ago and trouser-making came shortly thereafter in wetter regions to the north and west of the Tarim Basin. Ancient trousers from those areas are not likely to have been preserved, Mair says.

Horse riding’s origins are uncertain and could date to at least 4,000 years ago, comments archaeologist Margarita Gleba of University College London. If so, she says, “I would not be surprised if trousers appeared at least that far back.”

Front view of the woollen trousers (find number: 2003SYIM21:19, after Xinjiang, 2011) from the Yanghai site, tomb M21; (A) drawing: U. Beck; (B)

Front view of the woollen trousers (find number: 2003SYIM21:19, after Xinjiang, 2011) from the Yanghai site, tomb M21; (A) drawing: U. Beck; (B) 

The two trouser-wearing men entombed at Yanghai were roughly 40 years old and had probably been warriors as well as herders, the investigators say. One man was buried with a decorated leather bridle, a wooden horse bit, a battle-ax and a leather bracer for arm protection. Among objects placed with the other body were a whip, a decorated horse tail, a bow sheath, and a bow.

Beck and Wagner’s group obtained radiocarbon ages of fibers from both men’s trousers, and of three other items in one of the tombs.

The Yanghai Tombs (also spelled Yang-Hai) are located in the desert Turpan Basin of Shanshan County, Turpan District, in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of northwest China. Yangshai lies at the base of the Fire or Flaming Mountains (Huoyan Shan) and the foothills of the Heavenly Mountains (Tian Shan), on the edge of the Turpan Oasis, that has drawn people for thousands of years. Yangshai is about 30 km southeast of the main site of Turfan or Gaochang.

The tombs are grouped into three localities: Group 1, Group 2, and Group 3. The localities are really artificial: the cemetery is one big location, measuring some 54,000 square meters (or about 600,000 square feet) in the area.

The people buried in the tombs were nomadic pastoralists of the Subeixi culture, one of many Steppe Societies who roamed the deserts and steppes of central Eurasia from Ukraine to China. The Yanghai Tombs were discovered in the early 1970s by local Turpan villagers who were repairing a karez, and the tombs were excavated through the early 21st century.

Much of the publication in English has been focused on the analysis of the hundreds of mummies and thousands of artifacts recovered from the tombs. More than 500 tombs were excavated in 2003 alone, under the direction of E.G. Lu, with support from the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology and the Bureau of Cultural Relics of Turpan Prefecture.

The trousers were sewn together from three pieces of brown-colored wool cloth, one piece for each leg and an insert for the crotch. The tailoring involved no cutting but included side slits, strings for fastening at the waist and woven designs on the legs.

Source: phys.org