Angkor Wat archaeological digs yield new clues to its civilization’s decline

Cambodia’s famous temple of Angkor Wat is one of the world’s largest religious monuments, visited by over 2 million tourists each year.

It was built in the early 12th century by King Suryavarman II, one of the most famous kings of the Angkorian civilization that lasted from approximately the ninth to 15th centuries. The structure is so strongly associated with Cambodian identity even today that it appears on the nation’s flag.

Image of Angkor Wat in 1880 by Louis Delaporte. Louis Delaporte/Wikimedia Commons

For many years, historians placed the collapse of the Angkor civilization in 1431, when Angkor’s capital city was sacked by the Thai Kingdom of Ayutthaya and abandoned. The idea that the Angkorian capital was abandoned also played a part in the 19th-century colonial interpretation of Angkor as a civilization forgotten by the Cambodians and left to decay in the jungle. Many tourists still come to Angkor Wat with an outdated romanticized notion of a deserted ruin emerging from the mysterious jungle.

But scholars have long argued against this interpretation, and archaeological evidence is shedding even more light on the decline of the Angkorian civilization. The process was much longer and more complex than previously imagined; Angkor’s collapse may be better described as a transformation.

By looking at the events associated with this one particular temple, archaeologists like me are able to see a microcosm of some of the broader regional transformations that took place across Angkor.

What happened to the Angkor civilization?

Researchers believe the Angkor civilization was established in A.D. 802. Its heartland and capital city was on the banks of the Tonle Sap Lake in northwest Cambodia. The Angkorian state was founded and grew during a period of favorable climate with abundant rainfall. At its height, Angkorian rulers might have controlled a large portion of mainland Southeast Asia.

The Angkor civilization was booming in the early 1100s when construction began on the Angkor Wat temple site. Built as a re-creation of the Hindu universe, its most striking features are the five sandstone towers that rise above the four temple enclosures, representing the peaks of Mount Meru, the center of the universe. The temple is surrounded by a large moat symbolizing the Sea of Milk from which “amrita,” an elixir of immortality, was created.

But by the end of the 13th century, numerous changes were taking place. The last major stone temple at Angkor was constructed in 1295, and the latest Sanskrit inscription dates to the same year. The last inscription in Khmer, the language of Cambodia, appears a few decades later in 1327. Constructing stone temples and writing inscriptions are elite activities – these last instances at the Angkorian capital happened during the region-wide adoption of Theravada Buddhism that replaced Hinduism.

This religious shift disrupted the pre-existing Hindu-based power structures. Emphasis moved from state-sponsored stone temples and royal bureaucracy to community-based Buddhist pagodas, built from wood. At the same time, maritime trade with China was increasing. The relocation of the capital further south, near the modern capital of Phnom Penh, allowed rulers to take advantage of these economic opportunities.

Paleoclimate research has highlighted region-wide environmental changes that were taking place at the time, too. A series of decades-long droughts, interspersed with heavy monsoons, disrupted Angkor’s water management network meant to capture and disburse water.

One study of the moats around the walled urban precinct of Angkor Thom suggest the city’s elite were already departing by 14th century, almost 100 years before the supposed sack of the capital by Ayutthaya.

The author’s team, excavating occupation mounds surrounding the Angkor Wat temple. Although this area is covered with dense trees now, in the past there would have been houses on these mounds. Alison Carter, CC BY-ND

Excavations in the Angkor Wat temple enclosure

My colleagues and I, in collaboration with the government’s APSARA Authority that oversees Angkor Archaeological Park, began excavating within Angkor Wat’s temple enclosure in 2010.

Instead of focusing on the temple itself, we looked at the occupation mounds surrounding the temple. In the past, people would have constructed houses and lived on top of these mounds. LiDAR surveys in the region clarified that Angkor Wat, and many other temples including nearby Ta Prohm, were surrounded by a grid-system of mounds within their enclosures.

Over three field seasons, my colleagues and I excavated these mounds, uncovering remains of dumps of ceramics, hearths and burnt food remains, post holes and flat-lying stones that might have been part of a floor surface or path.

Archaeologists excavating a house mound in the Angkor Wat enclosure in 2015. Alison Carter, CC BY-ND

It is not clear yet who lived on these mounds, as we have not yet found artifacts that give clues as to the inhabitants’ occupations. Inscriptions describe the thousands of people needed to keep the temples functioning, so we suspect that many of those who lived on the mounds worked in some capacity in the Angkor Wat temple, perhaps as religious specialists, temple dancers, musicians or other laborers.

During our excavations, we collected burnt organic remains, primarily pieces of wood charcoal that were associated with different layers or features like hearths. Using radiocarbon dating, we identified dates for 16 charcoal pieces. We used these dates to build a more fine-grained chronology of when people were using the temple enclosure space – providing a more nuanced idea of the timing of occupation at Angkor Wat.

A dump of ceramics and food remains in an occupation mound. Archaeologists take burnt pieces of organic remains from features like this to date when particular activities took place. Alison Carter, CC BY-ND

Radiocarbon dates tell a different story

Our dates show that the landscape around Angkor Wat might have initially been inhabited in the 11th century, prior to the temple’s construction in the early 12th century. Then the Angkor Wat temple enclosure’s landscape, including the mound-pond grid system, was laid out. People subsequently inhabited the mounds.

Then we have a gap, or break, in our radiocarbon dates. It’s difficult to line it up with calendar years, but we think it likely ranges from the late 12th or early 13th century to the late 14th or early 15th century. This gap coincides with many of the changes taking place across Angkor. Based on our excavations, it seems that the occupation mounds were abandoned or their use was transformed during this period.

However, the temple of Angkor Wat itself was never abandoned. And the landscape surrounding the temple appears to be reoccupied by the late 14th or early 15th centuries, during the period Angkor was supposedly sacked and abandoned by Ayutthaya, and used until the 17th or 18th centuries.

Angkor Wat as a microcosm of the civilization

As one of the most important Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat can be seen as a kind of bellwether for broader developments of the civilization.

It seems to have undergone transformations at the same time that the broader Angkorian society was also reorganizing. Significantly, though, Angkor Wat was never abandoned. What can be abandoned is the tired cliche of foreign explorers “discovering” lost cities in the jungle.

While it seems clear that the city experienced a demographic shift, certain key parts of the landscape were not deserted. People returned to Angkor Wat and its surrounding enclosure during the period that historical chronicles say the city was being attacked and abandoned.

To describe Angkor’s decline as a collapse is a misnomer. Ongoing archaeological studies are showing that the Angkorian people were reorganizing and adapting to a variety of turbulent, changing conditions.

Alison Kyra Carter

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Oregon

Hindu statues, Buddhist temples: How and why Indian gods feature in Thai culture

By Sirinya Pakditawan

You may certainly have noticed that Hindu gods are very prominent in Thai culture. Thus, there are often images of these gods in Thai temples and at Thai shrines. In fact, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are the three most important Hindu gods representing the recurring and continual cycles of birth, life, death and rebirth.

This trinity, along with the god Indra, Ganesha and some enlightened divinities and demons, have been converted to the Buddhist doctrine according to Buddhist belief. Hence, these gods often occur as guardians of temples and monasteries. In addition, they may also be seen attending the Buddha on im­portant events in his life.

First there is Brahma (in Thai: Phra Phrom) who is the creator in the Hindu trinity. He is com­monly depicted having four heads and the book of Vedas in his hand. His female aspect is the goddess of learning, Sarasvadi, and his mount is the mythi­cal celestial swan called Hong or Hamsa. Brahma is considered a guard of doors and pediments in tem­ples. Furthermore, he is also popular as a protector of Thai hotels. Thus, in Thai culture, he is a deity of good fortune and protection.

In Thai art, Brahma is depicted in attendance to Buddhism, along with Indra, at the crucial events in Buddha’s life. Hence, he is also considered to be con­verted to Buddhism. By the way, Hindu gods might also be the subject of Thai songs here and there. For instance, Noi (Krissada Sukosol), singer of the band Pru, featured a song called ‘Brahma Brahma’.

Another important god is Vishnu who is the pre­server deity of the Hindu triad. In his hand, he often holds a disk and a conch shell. His mount is Garuda, the mythical bird that is half-human and half-eagle and the natural enemy of the Nagas. In other words, Garuda can be seen as the vehicle of Vishnu.

What is more, Vishnu’s avatar is Rama, the hero of the Ramakien tale. In addition, this god is also associated with Thai royalty since the kings of the Chakri dynasty have ‘Rama’ as part of their names. Similar to Brahma, Vishnu often functions as a (door) temple guardian.

Shiva is the destroyer and regenerator aspect of the Hindu trinity. He usually has a third eye that is centred vertically on his forehead. Fur­ther characteristics are a brahmanical cord across his torso and sometimes a crescent moon which is caught in his tangled hair. Pravati is his consort and his mount is the bull Nandi.

The image of Ganesha (in Thai: Phra Pikanet) is also very prominent in Thai culture. For example, there is the Ganesha Park in Nakhon Nayok which is considered a tribute to the elephant-headed god who is Shiva’s son. In Thailand, he is commonly seated at temple portals. What is more, he is also the patron of the arts and a protector of business.

Finally, we have the god Indra who is the god of Tavatimsa heaven. Hence, he is also the god of weather and war, wielding a lightning bolt and riding Erawan, the multi-headed elephant. Indra is a temple guardian of portals and pediments. He is also prominent in the Vessantara story which is the last life of the Buddha-to-be.

In addition, Indra occurs on mural paintings where he can be identified by his green colour. Along with Brahma, he is kneeling when attending Buddha during particular life events. Thus, it is indicated that the Hindu gods are subservient to Buddhism.

Summing up, we may claim that Hindu gods play a significant role in Thai culture. As a matter of fact, they not only show that Buddhism and Hinduism are intertwined but also rep­resent a subservience of Hinduism to Buddhism.

Sirinya Pakditawan is a ‘luk kreung’, or half-Thai, born and raised in Hamburg, Germany. She enjoys writing about Thailand, with a focus is on culture, art, history, tradition and on the people, as well as a mix of topics concerning Thai popular culture, travelogues and articles about Thai food.

Sirinya’s aim is not only to entertain you but to provide you with information and facts about Thailand, its culture and history that may not be generally known, in particular to the Western world. She has a PhD in American Studies from the University of Hamburg.

To read the original story, and many more, be sure to check out Sirinya’s blog:

Professing Faith: Why are images of Buddha so different from one another?

Cultural influences in India and China helped shape images of the teacher whose lessons are at the heart of Buddhism

By Gregory Elder |

Q: Why is it that pictures of the Buddha look so different from one another? In most pictures or statues, he is quite a plump guy and in others he is absolutely emaciated.

A: Today’s question comes from a local graduate student, and it calls to mind the proverb among scholars that, “If the Buddha of Japan were to meet the Buddha of India, the two men would not recognize each other.” Of course, part of the reason why depictions are different is that they come from different national artistic traditions. This author has seen African crucifixes with a black Christ and European crucifixes with white Christs, depending on who made them. However, with Buddhism, there is a little more to the matter than this.

Siddhartha Gautama was an Indian nobleman living in the fifth century B.C., in the north of that country. Sometime in the sixth century B.C., after deep inner searching which involved severe fasting, he achieved enlightenment, an escape from the endless cycle of birth and rebirth of reincarnation. When other monks asked him what had happened to him, he replied, “I am awake.” The word for “awakened” was something like “Buddha” and the name stuck. It was after this enlightenment that the Buddha began his lifetime of preaching and teaching the path he had discerned. What he actually experienced is another subject which would require more pages, but to answer this question it is important to locate the origins of Buddhism in the traditions of Hindu asceticism.

Hinduism is an extremely diverse religion, or perhaps a set of religions, in that it honors a great many gods, has an abundance of rituals, and several distinct paths to holiness, such as study, married sensuality, labor for the good of all and, of course, asceticism. Pictures of Indian mystics can show extremely emaciated men, shriveled up from years of intense fasting. It is said that the Buddha at the time of his enlightenment was so skinny that one could see all the vertebrae of his spine from looking at the front of his stomach alone. We are not surprised therefore to see Indian pictures of the Buddha as a slender man. We note that the Buddha gave up these extremes of asceticism, but he was still depicted as thinner than what many of us today are.

After the Buddha passed from this world, a number of schools of Buddhism developed, many of which are lost in the sands of time. Islamic invasions in the later centuries also reduced the number of Buddhist monks, whom the invaders called “bald idolaters,” and many temples were lost. The surviving Indian Buddhists came to be known as Theravada Buddhists. This tradition, in Sanskrit, “the way of the elders,” is perhaps the oldest and it emphasized the need for individual enlightenment. This required prayer, fasting and above all meditation. In this tradition the monks are seen as spiritually superior to others because they are further down the path to their own enlightenment. Indian Buddhism therefore emphasizes the image of the slender Buddha to show the importance of renunciation.

Theravada is probably the older of the two main traditions, but the largest is Mahayana Buddhism, which means “the Great Vehicle.” Mahayana taught that enlightenment was possible for ordinary people, and while it was hard to achieve, enlightenment was no longer the domain of the monks. Monasticism was very important, and the monks became the teachers of many. They lived in a Sanga, or monastery, and their life was often near the ordinary people. Mahayana Buddhism would develop into a number of sects, and it was able to absorb a great many gods and goddesses into its universe by identifying them as Bodhisattva, or enlightened souls who chose to return to earth to help us poor suffering rascals along the right path.

Around the time of Christ, Mahayana Buddhist monks made their way across the Himalaya mountains into Tibet and then into China. Here they faced a very different culture and set of religions. Traditional Chinese Taoism saw wealth as a blessing from heaven. Traditional Chinese Confucianism defined the best society as one which was ordered, prosperous and well fed. On the surface, this does not appear to be a fertile ground for Buddhism, but in fact it is a very adaptable religion.

With the Taoist tradition there a great many gods and spirits, who come in a variety of shapes and sizes. For example, there is Tsai Shen, the god of wealth, who is a stout gentleman riding on a tiger, and one should put his image on the east side of the house to attract honest wealth. There is also Cai Shen, the god of prosperity, who is a plump god with a happy face and is often depicted laughing. There are many other such examples, but if you are a Buddhist missionary in China and want to convert the locals, a scrawny Buddha is not going to get many believers. Under Chinese Mahayana we are not surprised to see that the enlightened one is shown a bit chubbier.

Gregory Elder, a Redlands resident, is a professor of history and humanities at Moreno Valley College and a Roman Catholic priest. This photo is from about 2017.

Nepal pavilion with Buddha statue main attraction at Beijing Expo 2019

KATHMANDU: The Nepal pavilion set up in ‘Beijing Expo-2019’ has been the attraction of the visitors.  The pavilion with a 15 feet tall statue of Gutam Buddha in meditation  posture in the middle, was inaugurated by President Bidya Devi Bhandari  on April 28 during her state visit to China has been visited by around  100,000 visitors in 15 days alone, said Binayak Shah, national  coordinator of the Implementing Expert Group, the organizer of the  pavilion.
 A Lumbini Peace Garden has also been created. The pavilion installation  aims to attract Chinese investors and technology and big Chinese  projects related to agriculture, forest and medicinal herbs of Nepal, he  said.
 Likewise, it helps to spread an awareness that Buddha was born in Nepal,  expose natural environment and human lifestyle of Nepal and promote  ‘Visit Nepal Year, 2020’ read a statement issued today by the Hotel  Association of Nepal. The Expo 2019 with the slogan ‘green life: best  life’ aims to create a new horizon for world horticulture and new model  of ecological civilisation.
 A formal programme to be attended by high level Nepali and Chinese  delegations is scheduled to take place in the Expo on September 19 on  the occasion of Nepal Day.
 On the occasion, musical programmes showing Nepal’s art and culture and a  good fair featuring Nepal’s local food items would be held, said Shah.  Held in a huge park of over 500 hectares of land, at the foot of the  world famous Great Wall of China, the Expo is the world’s largest  horticultural show. The Expo that lasts six months is expected to  attract approximately 16 million visitors from all over the world. Over  110 countries have exhibited floricultural and horticultural products,  cultural heritage and are promoting tourism.

Gump’s Buddha to be auctioned; the price of enlightenment

The Gump’s Buddha, reported to be homeless in a December story in The Chronicle, will soon have a new home. The statue is going to be on the Christie’s auction block on May 29 in Hong Kong. Chris Jehle did the math of converting Hong Kong dollars to U.S. dollars and says the estimate of what it will fetch is $3.9 million to $6.4 million.

“The Gump’s Buddha, property of an American family” is described by Christie’s as a “highly important and monumental imperial gilt-lacquered wood figure of the Medicine Buddha.” Medicine Buddha is a healing and serenity-making practice of Buddhism, personified by a Buddha said to have taken 12 great vows after having attained enlightenment.

The statue, including its pedestal, is 95 inches tall, made of wood painted bronze. It was bought in Kyoto in 1957 by Martin Rosenblatt, an executive and buyer for the store. A previous Buddha had been donated to the Japanese Tea Garden.

The Chronicle reported that when Gump’s was sold (for $8.5 million in 2005), New Yorker John Chachas, one of the investors who bought it, paid extra for the sculpture. By the time Gump’s announced its bankruptcy, last summer, the Buddha had been removed from the store, replaced by a photograph of it. Store personnel were mystified about where the statue had been taken, which is why The Chronicle described it as having vanished. According to Christie’s, “Works acquired at Gump’s not only enhanced — and still enhance — wealthy homes throughout the nation,” but also have wound up “in numerous public galleries.”



A 15-foot-tall (kind of) Buddha statue coming to Hayes Valley

Of course, this is NOT a Buddha.


After lighting up Patricia’s Green since May 2018, Charles Gageken’s 50-foot LED light sculpture SQUARED, an arboreal-inspired work noted for its 786 white cubes that change colors, will fell in favor of another piece, Tara Mechani, by local artist Dana Albany.


The sculpture, a futuristic female robot inspired by Maria from the silent film Metropolis and the Buddha Tara, most recently made pitstops at Burning Man and Plaza de César Chavez Park in San Jose.

The sculpture is constructed with up of 80 percent recycled materials, which include machine parts and hardware reused from local businesses.

According to a press release from San Francisco Arts Commission, “Inside the figure is a custom-built chandelier made out of a repurposed brass light fixture with arms that have been bent and reworked to extend around the sculpture’s sides to form a ribcage.”

Come nightfall, the sculpture will emanate “a soft warm candelabra glow” that’s meant to represent her heart and soul.

“Playing with the contemporary fascination with technology, the artwork infuses the mechanical with the compassion and empathy associated with the ancient deity,” says Albany. “Tara Mechani challenges us to embrace the future without losing sight of past beauty and ancient wisdom.”

Albany has created and exhibited works for the de Young Museum of Art, the Exploratorium, the California Academy of Sciences, and the San Francisco Airport.

The neighborhood’s upcoming statue—made possible by the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Recreation and Park Department, and mandated fees from developers—will be on display at Hayes and Octavia from June 4, 2019 to June 2020.

Archaeologists unearth some 100 undiscovered temples in Cambodia

Cambodian archaeologists have unearthed the remnants of nearly 100 previously undiscovered temples dating from the 6th and 7th centuries in Kratie province’s historical Samphu Borak area, former capital of the pre-Angkor Empire Chenla period.

Thuy Chanthourn, the deputy director of the Institute of Arts and Culture of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the remnants of the temples had not been recorded in earlier Cambodian or French archaeological studies, including Inventaire descriptif des monuments du Cambodge by E Lunet de Lajonquiere from 1902-11.

They had also not been registered in the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts’ list of ancient temples.

“The French registered more than 10 temples in the northern Samphu Borak area, while the provincial department of culture discovered more than 50 others. I have found nearly 100 temples that have not been unearthed before. We will carry out further inspections and studies,” Chanthourn said.

He said the temples were constructed from sandstone and dedicated to the Brahmanism religion of early Hinduism.

Only the foundations remained of Trapaing Prey, the final Chenla-era temple in the Samphu Borak area discovered by Chanthourn.

He said his team will use the global positioning system (GPS) to carry out in-depth research into the temples and record and preserve them as areas of important historical value.

He said people must be educated as to the importance of the ancient sites as in the past, villagers had damaged them looking for items of worth.

“Local people in the past have dug at the foundations of the temples looking for statues and other valuable relics to sell,” he said.

Royal Academy of Cambodia archaeologists found the ancient foundations as part of their research into the Chenla civilisation that also took them to locations in Kratie, Mondulkiri, Ratanakkiri, Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham provinces, as well as to Vietnam and Laos.

Chanthourn said his team had in previous studies discovered the remains of tangible heritage, including temples, and recorded the intangible ones, such as historical folk tales.

His team last year handed over an ancient inscription from the main temple gate at Samphu Borak to the Kratie provincial department of culture and fine arts for museum study, Chanthourn said.

He said the Chenla period Samphu Borak, on the Mekong River in Kratie province, was yet to be fully researched.

He said the recent discoveries showed that the ancestors of the Cambodian people were truly creators, builders and engineers.

Statues of Buddha’s disciples

This photo provided by the National Museum of Korea on April 29, 2019, shows stone statues of Buddha’s disciples on display for a special exhibition. The same day, the museum opened the exhibition of 88 statues excavated from a temple site in Yeongweol, about 200 km southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Archaeologists unearth ancient Funan burial site in Prey Veng town


Archaeologists have unearthed six ancient graves in Tnort Tret
village, in Prey Veng town’s Takor commune, concluding that the tombs
date from the Funan era between the first and fifth centuries AD.

Funan is the name given to an Indianised Southeast Asian state centred on the Mekong Delta that existed in that period.

Voeun Vuthy, director of the Archaeology and Prehistory Department at
the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said six archaeologists
excavated the location, found at the construction site for a road, for
10 days and uncovered the tombs. The dig in Prey Veng province was
completed last Tuesday.

The body parts and pieces of jugs and other pottery items discovered
are to be kept at the department for further examination, Vuthy added.

Five tombs were located in the upper layer of the ground with one at a
depth of 2.3m. They found tools and other items buried with the bodies,
he said.

“After the preliminary assessment, we have concluded that
there were people living in this area between the first and fifth
centuries because this area was the foundation of Funan-era culture.”

“Only human labour was used in the excavation because we didn’t want
anything to be damaged. We want to preserve the fragments of bodies and
pottery because these items illustrate the history of the era. We didn’t
want the tombs, which are evidence of the history of Cambodia, to be
buried under a road,” Vuthy said.

He said that all the items collected will be preserved as national treasures for future generations.

Nuth Bun Doeun, Prey Veng town police chief, said the ancient tombs
were located in a hilly area long considered sacred. The site did not
belong to anyone, but villagers said people prayed there as the hills
were ancient and sacred.

Development had caused traffic congestion in the town, so the government ordered the building of Prey Veng’s third ring road.

Experts feared the project would impact the ancient tombs, with the
Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts assessing and excavating the site, he

“The ancient area is on the tallest hill with some trees. The
villagers do not exactly know what the area is, but they have been
worshipping there for many years. Before the archaeologists came, they
held a religious ceremony for the excavation,” he said.


Buddha statue returns to Peshawar Museum after being displayed in Switzerland

PESHAWAR: The 2,000 years old statue of Buddha that had been put on display at an exhibition in Switzerland has been returned to the Peshawar Museum after around three months, an official said on Sunday.

Nawazuddin, spokesperson for Directorate of Archeology and Museum, said that the statue was out of Peshawar Museum for around 100 days. The 365 cm high and 46 cm wide statue was displayed at an international exhibition for the first time, he added.

Estimated to have been created between the 1st and 3rd century, the Buddha statue was discovered in 1909 in Seri Bahlol village in Mardan district and has been on display at the Peshawar Museum since 1911. Seri Bahlol is a world heritage site located about 70 km northwest of Peshawar.

The statue was insured for $20 million before it was loaned for display at the exhibition at Rietberg Museum in Zurich, Switzerland. Titled ‘Buddha Shakyamuni,’ the 1500 kg heavy sculpture was the main highlight at the ‘Next Stop Nirvana – Approaches to Buddhism’ exhibition in Zurich.

The Embassy of Switzerland and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation initiated contacts between Rietberg Museum and the government of Pakistan, resulting in signing of a memorandum of understanding under which the Peshawar Museum agreed to lend the status of Buddha for displaying it at the exhibition.

“The Buddha Shakyamuni has returned well home @PeshawarMuseum, Pakistan! We would like to thank everyone involved who made this colossal project possible! Many thanks to @PeshawarMuseum @EDA_DFAE @GovernmentofKhyberPakhtunkhwa @GovernmentofPakistan

@emirates,” the Museum Rietberg tweeted on April 12.

Curator of Museum Rietberg Johannes Beltz tweeted, “The colossal Gandhara Buddha from Peshawar is back to his home – after being part of the exhibition “Next Stop Nirvana” at the Museum Bietberg. More than 35,000 visitors of all ages came to admire this great work of art. In the name of the entire museum Rietberg, I thank all supporters, helpers, and partners, who made this possible. In particular, my thanks go to the Peshawar Museum, the Swiss Embassy in Islamabad, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Government of Pakistan!”