Xinjiang Grottoes get electric eyes, Oct 27, 2006

Xinjiang, China -- The Kezir Grottoes in Xinjiang, are one of China's great sites for Buddhist sculpture. It's the earliest grotto group, along the ancient Silk Road. But due to destruction of nature, and lack of manpower, Kezir's Thousand-Buddha caves are in grave danger.

Oxidization and cracking are serious threats, to the 1800 year old grottoes. So the Chinese government has invested 17 million yuan, more than two million U-S dollars, to install electric monitors.

The project will start at the end of this year. Archeologists will be able to inspect each grotto remotely, to prevent any further destruction.

Sculpted in the 3rd Century, the grottoes at Kezir are the oldest in China. Some 10,000 square meters of frescos, and Buddha statues of all sizes, are found in the caves. In 1961, Kezir was placed under national protection.