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AAN’s Jelena Bjelica and Fazal Muzhary have been looking into the fate of recent returnees, who may have gone heavily into debt to fund their trip, hearing from two young men who have just returned from Norway after trying to bicycle their way to a life in Europe.
"I think there could be similar [reclining] Buddhas, but I'm still searching for the 300-meter sleeping Buddha."Tarzi is one of the world's most knowledgeable experts on the giant Buddhas that were destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban regime.(Related: "World Heritage Status a Mixed Boon" [February 3, 2003].) But murals depicting ornate swirling patterns, Buddhist imagery, and mythological animals also adorn 50 of up to a thousand caves in the region. As part of that venture, the scientists tested the composition of the paint to aid restoration efforts—the first scientific analysis of the caves since the 1920s.The decorations date to between the 5th and 9th centuries A. Using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, scientists found that samples from 12 caves and the two destroyed giant Buddhas contained oil- and resin-based paints—likely the earliest known use of either substance for painting.The murals typically have a white base layer of a lead compound, followed by an upper layer of natural or artificial pigments mixed with either resins or walnut or poppy seed drying oils, Taniguchi said.More than seven years after the Taliban destroyed the two giant Buddha statues at Bamiyan, an Afghan-led archaeological team has uncovered the remains of a third giant Buddha nearby.