Saturday 26 April 2008

Worlds oldest oil paintings ever found; On Bamiyan cave walls in Afghanistan

Until now, art historians believed that oil painting started in Europe in the 15th century. But scientists recently found murals in a network of caves at Bamiyan, approx. 130 kilometers (80 miles) northwest of Kabul. The paintings, say scientists, were probably the work of artists who traveled along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China, across Central Asia's desert to the West.

In 2001, two colossal 6th-century statues of Buddhas stood at the mouth of the caves (video). The Taliban, which then ruled Afghanistan, blew up the statues on the grounds that they were un-Islamic. The action drew international condemnation.

Inside the caves, scientists found murals that show images of Buddha in vermilion robes sitting cross-legged amid palm leaves and mythical creatures.

To identify the organic components of the paint layers, researchers at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility discovered that the murals were painted using drying oils, perhaps from walnuts and poppy seeds and were painted in the 7th century.

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