In the cliffs of Afghanistan, a group of men are destroying an ancient wonder. With explosives and heavy artillery, they slowly reduce two giant Buddhas to rubble. But years later, scientists will discover something incredible lurking in the debris.
Back in the 6th century, the Bamiyan Valley in central Afghanistan was an important Buddhist religious site. Where the ancient Silk Road had brought trade it had also brought religion, and several monasteries had sprung up in the region. Indeed, many Buddhist monks lived in caves they’d carved out of the cliffs that lined the valley.
Some time between the years 544 and 595, a giant statue of Buddha was built at Bamiyan. Known as Shahmama, it stood some 115 feet tall. Incredibly, it was carved from the cliff face itself and overlooked the valley from its own niche in the rock.