2 Aug 2009

Gobi Desert relics found

7:04 am on 2 August 2009

Crates of Buddhist treasures, not seen for more than 70 years, have been unearthed in the Gobi Desert.

The artefacts were buried in the 1930s by a monk during a Communist purge in Mongolia, when hundreds of monasteries were looted and destroyed. A total of 64 crates were buried.

The BBC reports the relics include statues, art work, manuscripts and personal belongings of a famous 19th Century Buddhist master, Danzan Ravjaa.

Some of the boxes were dug up in the 1990s by the monk's grandson, who opened a museum.

An Austrian-Mongolian treasure hunt team has found two more boxes.

Search leader Michael Eisenriegler told the BBC World Service they were filled with "the most amazing Buddhist art objects".

The BBC reports the latest finds will be put on show at the Danzan Ravjaa Museum in Sainshand, 400km south of the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator. About 20 boxes remain hidden in the desert.