Monday, February 14, 2005


Tsunami uncovers Indian sculptures


The Age
February 14, 2005

One tsunami "gift", a bronze Buddha.
Photo: AFP

Mahabalipuram, India - The deadly tsunami that crashed into southern India has unearthed priceless relics, including two granite lions, buried under sand for centuries.

Archaeologists from the Archaeological Survey of India have descended on the ancient seaport of Mahabalipuram, famed for its rock carvings dating from the great Pallava dynasty, to see the objects.

"The sea has thrown up evidence of the grandeur of the Pallava dynasty," said superintendent archaeologist T. Sathiamoorthy.

The Hindu dynasty dominated much of south India from as early as the first century BC to the eighth century AD, and Mahabalipuram is now recognised as the site of some of the greatest architectural and sculptural achievements in India.

Among the tsunami "gifts" found in Mahabalipuram, 70 kilometres south of Madras, are the remnants of a stone house and a half-completed rock elephant. There are also two giant granite lions, one seated and another poised to charge. The statues are carved from a single piece of granite.

The objects were uncovered when the towering waves withdrew from the beach, carrying sand with them.

The archaeologists are also excited about a report from locals that just before the waves struck on December 26, the sea withdrew a great distance baring the seabed on which lay a temple structure and several rock sculptures.


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