Bamyan in afghanistan predating european oil
The murals at Bamiyan, which lay on the Silk Road where goods and ideas flowed between East and West, date to the mid-seventh century A. "This is one of the most important art-historical and archaeological discoveries ever made," she says.
Oil paintings have been found in caves behind the two ancient colossal Buddha statues destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban, suggesting that Asians — not Europeans — were the first to invent oil painting.
The researchers relied on a combination of synchrotron techniques, including infrared micro-spectroscopy, micro X-ray fluorescence, micro X-ray absorption spectroscopy and micro X-ray diffraction.
"On one hand, the paintings are arranged as superposition of multiple layers, which can be very thin," said Marine Cotte, a research scientist at CNRS and an ESRF scientific collaborator.
Many people worldwide were in shock when the Taliban destroyed the Buddha statues in the Afghan region of Bamiyan.
Behind those statues are caves decorated with paintings from the fifth to ninth centuries.
Within the various pigments, the scientists found a high use of lead whites. The paintings are probably the work of artists who traveled on the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China, across Central Asia's desert to the West.
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The results, publicly announced today, previously were presented in a scientific conference in Japan in January.
The research was funded by the ESRF, the Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan and UNESCO. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
In many European history and art books, oil painting is said to have started in the 15th century in Europe.
But the team that used the ESRF, an intense source of X rays, found the Bamiyan paintings date back to the mid-7th century AD The murals show scenes with Buddhas in vermilion robes sitting cross-legged amid palm leaves and mythical creatures.