Abstract: Silk Route and Diamond Path: The Archaeology of Tibetan Buddhism
For most westerners, Buddhism is timeless, and Tibet remote and romantic. For the archaeologist, though, the two are intimately connected. There is a substantial material expression of Tibetan Buddhism that is tied to pre-Buddhist political institutions, imperial expansion and collapse, and subsequent transformation into the monastic and temple tradition found on the plateau today. In this paper, I will discuss what is known of Tibetan Buddhist archaeology within this outline, and will describe the historical and cultural influences on the expression of Buddhism on the plateau, and the transformations it is undergoing in the modern political climate. My perspective is unique: at present, I am the only western archaeologist conducting research in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
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