US Returns Over 200 Stolen Temple Artifacts to India

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The US today returned over 200 cultural artifacts estimated at $100 million to India at a ceremony, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at Washington DC.

“For some, these artifacts may be measured in monetary terms but for us this is beyond that. It’s a part of our culture and heritage,” the Prime Minister said at the ceremony held at the Blair House.

Items returned included religious statues, bronzes and terra cotta pieces, some dating back 2,000 years, looted from some of India’s most treasured religious sites.

Among the pieces returned is a statue of Saint Manikkavichavakar, a Hindu mystic and poet from the Chola period (circa 850 AD to 1250 AD) stolen from the Sivan Temple in Chennai, which is valued at $1.5 million.

Also included in the collection is a bronze sculpture of the Hindu god Ganesh estimated to be 1,000-year-old.

The artifacts that speak to India’s astounding history and beautiful culture are beginning their journey home, US Attorney General Loretta E Lynch said.

“It is my hope – and the hope of the American people– that this repatriation will serve as a sign of our great respect for India’s culture; our deep admiration for its people; and our sincere appreciation for the ties between our nations,” she said.

“Protecting the cultural heritage of our global community is important work and we are committed to identifying and returning these priceless items to their countries of origin and rightful owners,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in a statement.

“It’s the responsibility of law enforcement worldwide to ensure criminal smuggling organizations do not profit from the theft of these culturally and historically valuable items,” he said.

The majority of the pieces repatriated in the ceremony were seized during Operation Hidden Idol, an investigation that began in 2007 after Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) special agents received a tip about a shipment of seven crates destined for the US manifested as “marble garden table sets”.

Examination of the shipment in question revealed numerous antiquities. This shipment was imported by Subhash Kapoor, owner of Art of the Past Gallery, who awaits trial in India.

HSI’s Operation Hidden Idol focused on the activities of former New York-based art dealer Kapoor, currently in custody in India awaiting trial for allegedly looting tens of millions of dollars worth of rare antiquities from several nations, a media release said.

Artifacts were also found in the Honolulu Museum and Peabody Essex, who promptly partnered with HSI to surrender illicit cultural property stemming from Kapoor.

HSI special agents have executed a series of search warrants targeting Kapoor’s New York City gallery, along with warehouses and storage facilities linked to the dealer.

Additionally, five individuals have been arrested in the US for their role in the scheme, a media release said.

 

By Indian Express

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Sahasralinga, the river with the thousand Shiva Lingas

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Last summer, due to dry weather, the water level of the Shalmala river in Karnataka receded, revealing the presence of thousands of Shiva Lingas carved throughout the river bed. Because of these uncountable carvings, the place gets the name “Sahasralinga” (thousand Shiva Lingas).

Sahasralinga has become an important pilgrimage place. On the auspicious day of Mahashivaratri thousands of pilgrims visit Sahasralinga to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva. Each Lingam in the river has a matching carving of Nandi (the Bull carrier of Lord Shiva) facing it.

Shiva Lingas have been worshipped by Hindus for thousands of years. It represents divine power and energy. The worship of Shiva Linga was not confined to India only. Carvings of Shiva Lingas can be found throughout the world in nearly every ancient civilization.

Sahasralinga is a most beautiful place. It is located near Sirsi, in the state of Karnataka. It is on the way to Yellapur from Sirsi, around 17 kms from Sirsi. After Bhairumbe you will have to get down at a bus-stop called Hul Gol bus-stop and walk towards Hul Gol. From the main road it is a distance of around 2 kms.

 

 

 

via India Divine

Hindus Lived 74,000 Years Ago (according to a survey)

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About 76,000 years ago, the volcano Toba – located in what is now Indonesia – erupted to create the largest and most devastating volcanic event of the past 2 million years.

Almost 3,000 cubic kilometers of magma was spewed out, while sulfuric acid rained over the earth as far away as Greenland. The world became subject to a volcanic winter, and what followed was one of the most severe ice ages in documented history.

Over in India, the land was showered with 15 centimeters of volcanic ash, which can be seen today, working as a distinct age marker in the earth’s stratigraphy. And yet, contrary to all logic, archaeologists have unearthed assemblages of stone tools both above and below the ash deposit in India’s Jwalapuram Valley.

The tools look remarkably similar to those made by humans in Africa, which indicates that these tools were also human-formed  and yet, if humans were still in India after the depositing of ash (an incredible feat it itself), they would have had an extremely difficult time trying to survive.

After all, the sheer magnitude of the eruption suspended both volcanic gas and sulfuric acid in the earth’s atmosphere for years, causing warm sunlight to be redirected away from Earth – and plunging the world into several centuries of temperatures that were at least 3-5 degrees C lower than normal after the event.

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Mapping of stone tool artefacts on a Middle Palaeolithic occupation surface under the Toba ash.

Newly discovered archaeological sites in southern and northern India have revealed how people lived before and after the colossal Toba volcanic eruption 74,000 years ago.

The international, multidisciplinary research team, led by Oxford University in collaboration with Indian institutions, unveiled to a conference in Oxford what it calls ‘Pompeii-like excavations’ beneath the Toba ash.

The seven-year project examines the environment that humans lived in, their stone tools, as well as the plants and animal bones of the time. The team has concluded that many forms of life survived the super-eruption, contrary to other research which has suggested significant animal extinctions and genetic bottlenecks.

According to the team, a potentially ground-breaking implication of the new work is that the species responsible for making the stone tools in India was Homo sapiens. Stone tool analysis has revealed that the artefacts consist of cores and flakes, which are classified in India as Middle Palaeolithic and are similar to those made by modern humans in Africa.

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Though we are still searching for human fossils to definitively prove the case, we are encouraged by the technological similarities. This suggests that human populations were present in India prior to 74,000 years ago, or about 15,000 years earlier than expected based on some genetic clocks,’ said project director Dr Michael Petraglia, Senior Research Fellow in the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford.

This exciting new information questions the idea that the Toba super-eruption caused a worldwide environmental catastrophe. Dr Michael Petraglia, School of Archaeology

An area of widespread speculation about the Toba super-eruption is that it nearly drove humanity to extinction. The fact that the Middle Palaeolithic tools of similar styles are found right before and after the Toba super-eruption, suggests that the people who survived the eruption were the same populations, using the same kinds of tools, says Dr Petraglia.

The research agrees with evidence that other human ancestors, such as the Neanderthals in Europe and the small brained Hobbits in Southeastern Asia, continued to survive well after Toba.

Although some scholars have speculated that the Toba volcano led to severe and wholesale environmental destruction, the Oxford-led research in India suggests that a mosaic of ecological settings was present, and some areas experienced a relatively rapid recovery after the volcanic event.

The team has not discovered much bone in Toba ash sites, but in the Billasurgam cave complex in Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, the researchers have found deposits which they believe range from at least 100,000 years ago to the present. They contain a wealth of animal bones such as wild cattle, carnivores and monkeys. They have also identified plant materials in the Toba ash sites and caves, yielding important information about the impact of the Toba super-eruption on the ecological settings.

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Dr Petraglia said: ‘This exciting new information questions the idea that the Toba super-eruption caused a worldwide environmental catastrophe. That is not to say that there were no ecological effects. We do have evidence that the ash temporarily disrupted vegetative communities and it certainly choked and polluted some fresh water sources, probably causing harm to wildlife and maybe even humans.’

Older Than Harappa

“A team of archaeologists from the Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute is back from Haryana where they stumbled upon a record 70 Harappan graves at a site in Farmana, discovering the largest burial site of this civilization in India so far. It is an extraordinary archaeological finding.

A big housing complex that matured during the Harappan era was discovered by these archaeologists who have been working in this little known village for the past three years. The archaeological team here uncovered an entire town plan. The skeletal remains belong to an era between 2500 BC to 2000 BC.

credits to: ramanan50.wordpress.com

New finds take archaeologists closer to Krishna

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The conch and the Sudarshana Chakra are unmistakable. Although the figures do not match popular images of Krishna sporting a peacock feather, archaeologists are convinced that the coins are of Krishna, revered as an avatar of Vishnu.
“These square coins, dating back to 180 BC, with Krishna on one side and Balram on the other, were unearthed recently in Al Khanoun in Afghanistan and are the earliest proof that Krishna was venerated as a god, and that the worship had spread beyond the Mathura region,” says T K V Rajan, archaeologist and founder-director, Indian Science Monitor, who is holding a five-day exhibition, In search of Lord Krishna,’ in the city from Saturday.

Having done extensive research in Brindavan, Rajan is convinced that a lot of the spiritual history of ancient India lies buried. “Close to 10,000 Greeks, who came in the wake of Alexander the Great, were Krishna’s devotees. There is an inscription by Heliodorus, the Greek ambassador at Takshila , which reads Deva, deva, Vasudeva. Krishna is my god and I have installed this Garuda Pillar at Bes Nagar (now in Bihar),’” says Rajan.

According to him the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has unearthed many sites that throw fresh light on the era of Krishna. “ASI is expected to release the full findings next year. Many of the unearthed artifact have a close resemblance to materials of what is believed to be the Harappan civilisation. The findings may show that Krishna’s life was the dividing line between India’s spiritual history and the society’s gradual shift towards a materialistic one,” says Rajan.

Interestingly, a lot of what has been uncovered closely resemble the narration in the texts of Mahabharatha and the Bhagavatham,” he adds. Both the spiritual works are revered by the Hindus as their holy books.

It has been over five years since the discoveries were made at Tholavira near Dwaraka, close to Kutch. Much progress has been made due to the application of thermoluminous study (TL) in ascertaining the age of artifact. “It is possible to get the diffusion of atomic particles in the clay pottery unearthed and arrive at an accurate date,” points out Rajan. Tholavira itself is believed to be the capital city as detailed in the opening chapters of Bhagavatham. Rajan points to an image of a plough, made of wood, which is mentioned in the Bhagavatham.

The findings could lay a trail to understanding Krishna’s life (said to be 5,000 years ago) and times, as a historical fact, says Rajan. The exhibition will be open till December 31 at Sri Parvathy Gallery, Eldams Road.

 

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