Thursday, September 13, 2007

1,300-year-old Korean Buddha unearthed

After months of excavation, a 1,300-year-old giant stone statue of Buddha revealed its perfectly preserved face yesterday in a mountainous area of Gyeongju, the capital city of Korea’s ancient Silla Kingdom.

The 5.6-metre (18-feet) tall sculpture was discovered, face down and buried in the ground. Archaeologists worried that the face had been destroyed when the 70-ton statue fell over hundreds of years ago. However, after careful excavation, specialists found that the Buddha’s nose missed a rock bed by only 5 centimetres (2 inches), likely saving it.

The research institute said the statue’s stone foundation apparently collapsed shortly after its completion, estimated to be in the late 8th century. The carved front was buried in the soil, protecting it from being worn away.

The Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage plans to turn the statue faceup by the end of this year.

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