'Buddha's skull' found in Nanjing





The pagoda was wedged tightly inside an iron case that was discovered at the site of a former temple in the city in August.

The four-storey pagoda, which is almost four feet high and one-and-a-half feet wide, is thought by archaeologists to be one of the 84,000 pagodas commissioned by Ashoka the Great in the second century BC to house the remains of the Buddha.

Ashoka, one of India's greatest emperors, converted to Buddhism after waging a bloody war in the eastern state of Orissa. He is widely credited with spreading Buddhism throughout Asia, and across his kingdom, which stretched from Pakistan through Afghanistan and into Iran.

The pagoda found in Nanjing is crafted from wood, gilded with silver and inlaid with gold, coloured glass and amber. It matches a description of another of Ashoka's pagodas which used to be housed underneath the Changgan Buddhist temple in Nanjing.

A description of the contents of the pagoda was also found: a gold coffin bearing part of Buddha's skull inside a silver box. Although scans have confirmed that there are two small metal boxes inside the pagoda, experts have not yet peered inside. The pagoda is currently on display in the museum.


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