An Archaeological Scandal
This true account of the scandal that enveloped the discovery in 1898 of an inscribed casket said to contain the ashes of the Buddha, is set against the background of the high noon of the British Raj.
In January 1898 a British landowner, William Claxton Peppé, excavated a large Buddhist brick stupa on his estate close to India’s border with Nepal.
At a depth of 24 feet he uncovered a huge stone coffer containing a number of reliquary vases together with jewels and gold offerings.
This discovery was followed by the opening of the Piprahwa stupa near the birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini, and the legendary city of Kapilavastu where he had grown into manhood as Prince Siddhartha.
But more importantly, an inscription had been discovered on top of one of the caskets, declaring it to contain the ashes of the Buddha left there by members of his own Sakya clan.
This news aroused world-wide interest since no other so well authenticated relics of the Buddha had ever been found.
But almost immediately it became known that a German archaeologist, Dr Anton Führer, working nearby at the same time had not only made bogus claims and faked his results but had also been associated with the dig.
Führer was quickly unmasked by a British magistrate who himself had a stake in the excavation.
Renowned India expert Charles Allen tells this fascinating story, weaving in the results of a conference held at Harewood House in June 2006 on the Piprahwa dig with those of recent carbon dating.
Goodreads Rating - 3.78 out of 5 (9 Ratings, 2 Reviews)
My Comments: Interesting read for archaeology enthusiasts!
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