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February 8 2013

A fragile Buddhist treasure


Experts at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) are in the process of analysing Indian Buddhist texts that are over 2000-year-old which have recently come to light. The precious manuscripts have already yielded some surprising results.

The oldest surviving Buddhist texts, preserved on long rolls of birch-tree bark, are written in Gandhari, an early regional Indic language that is long extinct. The scrolls originate from the region known in ancient times as Gandhara, which lies in what is now Northwestern Pakistan.

For researchers interested in the early history of Buddhism, these manuscripts represent a sensational find, for a number of reasons.

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