Ancient Buddhist caves in China could `turn to sand´
Urgent conservation work is needed to save a series of caves in northwest China containing ancient murals by Buddhist monks, which are threatened with destruction from the forces of nature.

The network of 236 sandstone caves extend over an area of two to three kilometres in the vast, sparsely-populated autonomous Xinjiang region of China, along the ancient Silk Road. The caves were inhabited by Buddhist monks and used as temples between the third and the eighth centuries, and are lined with murals In the early 20th century, many of the paintings were removed by Western archaeologists, notably the German expedition of Albert von Le Coq in 1906, and are now housed in museums including the Museum fur Asiatische Kunst in Berlin and the Musee Guimet in Paris.

Around 10,000 people visit the caves each year—a fraction of the 800,000 who visit the Mogao caves further east along the Silk Road, which became a Unesco World Heritage site in 1987. Although the situation is serious and urgent, the caves are not beyond saving. Bonsanti says that “In this battle against fatal natural processes, man is destined to surrender eventually, but hopefully the end of Kezer will not yet be seen for many generations to come.”

In the early 20th century, many of the paintings were removed by Western archaeologists, notably the German expedition of Albert von Le Coq in 1906, and are now housed in museums including the Museum fur Asiatische Kunst in Berlin and the Musee Guimet in Paris. Around 10,000 people visit the caves each year—a fraction of the 800,000 who visit the Mogao caves further east along the Silk Road, which became a Unesco World Heritage site in 1987. Although the situation is serious and urgent, the caves are not beyond saving. Bonsanti says that “In this battle against fatal natural processes, man is destined to surrender eventually, but hopefully the end of Kezer will not yet be seen for many generations to come.”

Fuente: sotterraneidiroma.it
 
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