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Remains of lost temple discovered after 1,000 years in Chengdu


Archaeologists have spent months excavating a lost temple that disappeared for nearly a millennium in downtown Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Remains of lost temple discovered after 1,000 years in Chengdu
View of the Fugan Temple excavation site in downtown Chengdu 
[Credit: Xinhua]
Remains of lost temple discovered after 1,000 years in Chengdu
The Fugan temple was once a prestigious place of worship, but it suffered damage during wars, and all traces of it 
disappeared during the Song dynasty [Credit: Xinhua]
The Fugan Temple was a famous temple that lasted from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420) to the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

Daoxuan, a famous Tang Dynasty (618-907) monk, once wrote that an official rite to pray for rain to end a persistent drought was held in front of the temple, and it rained as if the prayers had been heard in heaven.

Remains of lost temple discovered after 1,000 years in Chengdu
As well as the foundations of the temple itself, the archaeologists also discovered around 80 ancient tombs 
that they believe date back to around 1600-256 BC [Credit: Xinhua]
Remains of lost temple discovered after 1,000 years in Chengdu
Workers carry out cleanup work inside an unearthed ditch at the excavation site of the Fugan Temple, which disppeared 
for nearly a millennium, in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province [Credit: Xinhua]
The story was the record of how the temple got its name, Fugan, which means "perceive the blessing."

Famous Tang Dynasty poet Liu Yuxi left a poem to commemorate the temple's renovation, describing its heavenly appearance. The poem further noted the temple's important role at that time.

Remains of lost temple discovered after 1,000 years in Chengdu
Workers clean Jin period drains [Credit: Xinhua]
Remains of lost temple discovered after 1,000 years in Chengdu
Several ditches and wells were also discovered in the surrounding area around the Fugan temple itself [Credit: Xinhua]
However, the building was worn down during the later period of the Tang and Song dynasties, with all traces of the temple disappearing during wars.

Archaeologists unearthed more than 1,000 tablets inscribed with Buddhist scriptures and over 500 pieces of stone sculpture as well as glazed tiles with inscriptions.

Remains of lost temple discovered after 1,000 years in Chengdu
Archaeologist Zhang Xufen holds fragment of tablet inscribed with Buddhist scripture [Credit: Xinhua]
Remains of lost temple discovered after 1,000 years in Chengdu
Carving depicting stories from Buddhist scripture found at Fugan Temple [Credit: Xinhua]
"We have only excavated a part of the temple's area, but already have a glimpse of its past glory," said Yi Li, who led the excavation project.

He said they have found the temple's foundation, ruins of surrounding buildings, wells, roads and ditches.

Remains of lost temple discovered after 1,000 years in Chengdu
Head of Buddha statue found at Fugan Temple [Credit: Xinhua]
During the excavation, archaeologists found some 80 ancient tombs scattered near the temple, dating back to Shang and Zhou dynasties (1600-256 BC). In the temple's surroundings, they have unearthed large amounts of household tools and utensils and building materials dating back to various periods from the Song to Ming dynasties.

Chengdu became an economic and cultural center in western China during the Sui and Tang dynasties. The temple's discovery could greatly contribute to the study of the spread of Buddhism in China during that time, said Wang Yi, director of the Chengdu Cultural Relic Research Institute.

Source: Xinhua [June 04, 2017]
TANN

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