Monday, May 5, 2008

Bamiyan Cave Oil Paintings

I have already written about oil paints. You know that artists used to have to grind minerals into powder and then mix the powder with oil to make their paint. It was long believed by art historians and scholars that oil paints were not used until the 1600s. They also believed that oil paints were invented in Europe. Recently an act of terrorism allowed us to find new information about the history of oil paint.

In 2001 members of the Taliban blew up two, huge sculptures of Buddha. Behind the sculptures were paintings from the 5th to 9th centuries. The paintings had always been protected from the sun and the environment by the Buddha scultures but the attack put the paintings at risk. While trying to protect the paintings, scientists were able to study them.

Using a special type of light, scientists studied each layer of the paintings. They discovered that oil was used in paintings from the 7th century. Oil painting began in the Middle East 800 years earlier than art historians had thought!

From destruction came new knowledge. Sometimes there is a thin silver-lining.

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2 comments:

Peter said...

At least something good came out of the destruction of the statues!

Was away for a week. Checked all your posts! ... and especially, I would like to congratulate you for being admitted!

Jessica said...

I hope your trip went well. Glad you're back, though. I'm heading over to your site now!