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Remnants of Buddhism Found in Sabzevar


04 March 2006




LONDON, (CAIS) -- A team of Iranian and Japanese experts have discovered remnants of Buddhist culture at a site near Sabzevar, Khorasan Province, the Persian service of CHN reported on Saturday.


The team, which began their research work last year, believes that they will find a Buddhist temple at the site.


The Iranian director of the team, Hamid Fahimi, said that nineteen sites in the provinces of Zanjan, West Azerbaijan, Central, Kordestan, Hamedan, and Khorasan were studied, and the Pirestir site near Sabzevar was the location where Buddhist ruins were discovered.


According to Fahimi, architectural ruins, historical documents, and the local oral history have provided more evidence that Buddhists lived at the site in the late Sasanid and early post-Sasanid eras.


“According to the regional people, there were forty rooms around the Pirestir monument which non-Muslims used for worship. They said that the worshippers would not leave the rooms before they finished their prayers. The rooms had low ceilings and no windows. Inside the rooms were totally dark and the smoke left on the ceilings and the shelves show that the rooms had no holes to allow light to enter. The ceremony was similar to those of Buddhists,” he noted.


He went on to say that the historical documents identify it as a site belonging to the Buddhists of ancient Iran, adding, “There is no accurate date for the events, but it is assumed that the rooms are older than Pirestir, dating back to the late Sasanid and early post-Sasanid eras.


“The team plans to continue their studies and work based on the historical documents. Studying the coins of the late Parthian and Sasanid eras is also one of the main tasks of the team since, in those years, the regional governors of Khorasan who had a tendency toward Buddhism used to mint coins bearing the image of Buddha,” he noted.


The Japanese team is directed by Tsuchi Hashirikobe and the experts come from Japan’s Nara International Foundation (NIFS).


NIFS, a public-service corporation established by the governor of Nara prefecture in July 1989, aims to develop Nara into a center for historical and cultural research on the Silk Road, based on the achievements of the Silk Road Exposition of 1988. 

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