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Buddha statue find at Afghan site

The seat of Bamiyan Buddhas
The Taleban dynamited the Buddha statues in 2001

A giant statue of a Buddha has been discovered in central Afghanistan, near to the ruins of the world-famous Bamiyan Buddhas.

Archaeologists say the 19m (62ft) statue is in a sleeping position and dates back to the Third Century.

Other relics such as coins and ceramics were also found.

The Taleban blew up two giant standing Buddhas carved into the mountainside at Bamiyan - once a thriving centre of Buddhism - in 2001.

The statues, the tallest such standing Buddhas in the world at the time, were considered by the Taleban to be un-Islamic representations of the human form.

Archaeologists are working on restoring the larger of the two Buddhas in a project that is expected to take a decade.

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The BBC's Alastair Leithead visits Bamiyan

A local official in Bamiyan said the newly found statue had been badly damaged, but some parts of it, such as the neck and right hand, were in a good condition.

He said measures were being taken to protect it, and it was hoped the statue would go on public display next year.

The latest find gives hope to archaeologists searching for a 300m long statue recorded by a Chinese pilgrim centuries ago.

Iconic Buddhist art works, now thought to be the oldest oil paintings in the world, have also been found in the caves at Bamiyan.


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