Washington: A team of archaeologists may have attained enlightenment inside a 1,000-year-old Chinese chest.
Researchers believe that a chunk of skull, mixed with a collection of remains of Buddhist saints, which were uncovered within the gold chest, belonged to Siddhartha Gautama.
Archaeologists made the find during excavations at a Buddhist temple in Nanjing China in 2010. When they opened a stone chest in a crypt underneath the temple, they found an ornate shrine called a stupa, used for meditation.
Live Science described the shrine that contains the bone inside as a 117 cm tall and 45 cm wide box made from sandalwood, gold and is covered with gemstones made of crystal, glass, agate and lapis lazuli. This was stored within an iron box, which, in turn, was stored within a stone chest.
The bones were found within a tiny gold chest less than 8 cm tall, which itself was stored in a larger silver casket 20 cm tall. This casket was locked within the stupa, before the entire nest of boxes was stored safely within the stone chest.
Inscriptions carved into the protective stone chest tell the story of how Buddha's skull bone came to lie within. The inscriptions indicated that it was constructed during the time of Emperor Zhenzong of the Song Dynasty, 997-1022 A.D.
The names of the people who donated money and material for the construction of the model and those who were involved in the construction are also inscribed on the stupa.
According to the archaeologists, while the inscriptions say that the skull belonged to the Buddha, it was not confirmed whether the bone really belonged to him.
An inscription on the stone chest, which was written by a man named Deming 1,000 years ago, indicated that after the Buddha died his body was cremated at the Hirannavati River, before the ruling king divided the remains into thousands of portions, 19 of which found their way to China.
The study appears in the journal of Chinese Cultural Relics....