team of Japanese researchers has found Buddhist stone
caves believed to date back to the eighth century about
120 kilometers west of the Bamiyan ruins in central
Afghanistan, the team said Wednesday.
team, headed by Ryukoku University professor Takashi
Irisawa, confirmed in late October the discovery of a
group of caves built on cliffs located 1 km west of the
Keligan ruins in the upper Band-e-Amir River area.
The discovery indicates the possibility that the influence
of Buddhism may have extended to the area of the upper
waters of the river centering around the Keligan ruins
even a century after the fall of Sasanian empire to the
Muslim forces in seventh century, and that the religion's
sphere of influence in the region may have been greater
than previously thought, team members said. This confirms
that Islam was beginning to gather momentum around that
"It will provide an invaluable clue in researching
the sphere of Buddhism stretching westward," said
Irisawa, an expert on Buddhist culture at the Kyoto-based
The group of caves is made up of four layers with seven
rooms. The bottom layer, which is the largest, is 4 meters
high, 5 meters wide and 15 meters long.
Three rooms in the bottom layer have spaces where Buddhist
statues are believed to have been placed, indicating that
the rooms may have been used for praying, team members
Irisawa said, there is "little doubt that the caves
are Buddhist caves as they closely resemble the structure
and architectural style of the Bamiyan stone caves."
Xuanzang, a Chinese monk known as Genjo Sanzo in Japan who
visited Bamiyan in the seventh century, wrote in his book
on his travels called "The Records of the Western
Regions of the Great Tang Dynasty" that he had passed
more than a dozen temples and some 300 monks on his way to
The area of the Keligan ruins may have been where Xuanzang
passed through, team members said.
A group of stone caves were also found in a village 2 km
east of the Keligan ruins.
The cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the
Bamiyan Valley, which was destroyed by the country's
former US-Saudi backed Taliban regime in 2001, were
registered on the U.N. Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization's World Heritage list in 2003.