Buddha statue found near Kyrgyz capital

TE/MMA, Jul 19, 2011

Bishkek, Kyrgyztan -- Archaeologists have unearthed a Buddha statue outside the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, where they believe it had been a Buddhist monastery complex.

Archaeologists from the Kyrgyz Academy of Sciences and the Russian Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg found the massive statue at the Krasnaya Rechka village, 35km from Bishkek, 3News reported.

"This sculpture is as high as two humans,” said Valery Kolchenko of the Kyrgyz National Academy of Sciences.”

“If we could straighten it out and put it vertically, its height would be about four meters. As it is sitting, it's about one and a half to two meters (high)."

Archaeologists believe the statue dates back to a time between the 8th to 10th centuries, but further tests are needed to determine their exact age.

"The excavation of this sculpture is a very laborious task, that is why we cannot date this artifact to any particular time,” said Asan Torgoyev of the Oriental Studies Department of the Hermitage Museum.

“First of all we need to excavate it and then we can say how old it is," he added.

The find is an unusual discovery since Buddhist remains of this kind are rare in the mountainous regions of Kyrgyzstan.

Previous excavations at the site had yielded remains of a Buddhist temple, a fortress, a Karakhanid palace complex as well as Buddhist and early Christian cemeteries.