A Secret Library, Digitally Excavated
2013 10 16

By Jacob Mikanowski | The New Yorker



Just over a thousand years ago, someone sealed up a chamber in a cave outside the oasis town of Dunhuang, on the edge of the Gobi Desert in western China. The chamber was filled with more than five hundred cubic feet of bundled manuscripts. They sat there, hidden, for the next nine hundred years. When the room, which came to be known as the Dunhuang Library, was finally opened in 1900, it was hailed as one of the great archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century, on par with Tutankhamun’s tomb and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The library was discovered by accident. In the early Middle Ages, Dunhuang had been a flourishing city-state. It had also long been famous as a center of Buddhist worship; pilgrims travelled great distances to visit its cave shrines, comprised of hundreds of lavishly decorated caverns carved into a cliff on the city’s outskirts. But by the early twentieth century, the town was a backwater, and its caves had fallen into disrepair. Wang Yuanlu, an itinerant Taoist monk, appointed himself their caretaker. One day, he noticed his cigarette smoke wafting toward the back wall of a large cave shrine. Curious, he knocked down the wall, and found a mountain of documents, piled almost ten feet high.

Although he couldn’t read the ancient scripts, Wang knew he had found something of incredible significance. He contacted local officials and offered to send the materials to the provincial capital; strapped for cash and preoccupied with the Boxer Rebellion, they refused. Soon, however, rumors of the discovery began to spread along the caravan routes of Xinjiang. One of the first to hear about it was the Hungarian-born Indologist and explorer Aurel Stein, who was then in the middle of his second archaeological expedition to Central Asia.

Stein rushed to Dunhuang, and, after waiting for two months, he finally met with Wang. Negotiations were delicate. Wang didn’t want to let any of the documents out of his sight, and was uneasy about selling them. Stein prevailed, eventually persuading the monk by invoking his patron saint, Xuanzang, a Chinese pilgrim who made an arduous journey to India in search of religious texts in the seventh century A.D. Claiming to be following in Xuanzang’s footsteps, Stein convinced Wang to sell him some ten thousand documents and painted scrolls for a hundred and thirty pounds.

News of the Dunhuang Library set off a manuscript race among the European powers.

[...]

Read the full article at: newyorker.com



Related Articles
Over 113 Years, This Home Library Has Grown to 35,000 Books
Oldest known complete Torah scroll found in university library by chance
The library where robots pick the books
The Mysterious Crespi Collection & The Metal Library
Egypt’s richest Library set on Fire
A million library books to be sent down the mines
The Vatican Archive: the Pope’s private library


Latest News from our Front Page

Harvard Professor Noel Ignatiev talks about how to end the White race
2014 09 02
There was some doubt earlier this week as to the validity of the claim in Kevin MacDonald’s article The War Against Whites. We’ll we found something for your guys: Source: youtube.com Not that this is the only one, far from it, this is just a small sample of the barrage of conferences and a well educated cultural marxists that have set their goals ...
Secret underground tunnels of ancient Mesopotamian cult revealed under Ani ruins
2014 09 01
For the first time in history, the academic world is paying attention to the spectacular underground world of Ani, a 5,000-year-old Armenian city located on the Turkish-Armenian border. Hurriyet Daily News reports that scientists, academics, and researchers have just met at a symposium in Kars titled ‘Underground Secrets of Ani’ to discuss the city’s underground world mentioned in ancient ...
A Government Vision Of The Future That Isn’t That Great
2014 09 01
Here’s a report by the UK Ministry of Defense, a document that they’re not hiding - it’s not classified. In fact, they WANT you to read it: the Global Strategic Trends 2045. For your convenience, they’ve even produced a handy video about their dire predictions: They present a warning call for how things are going to be bad in the future. ...
Bad Memories Turned to Happy Ones in Mice Brains
2014 09 01
Memories are often associated with emotions, and these feelings can change through new experiences and over time. Now, using light, scientists have been able to manipulate mice brain cells and turn the animals’ fearful memories into happy ones, according to a new study. Memories are encoded in groups of neurons that are activated together or in specific patterns, but it is ...
CIA MKULTRA: they intended to use drugs for “everything”
2014 09 01
Drugs to transform individuals…and even, by implication, society. Drug research going far beyond the usual brief descriptions of MKULTRA. The intention is there, in the record. A CIA document was included in the transcript of the 1977 US Senate Hearings on MKULTRA, the CIA’s mind-control program. The document is found in Appendix C, starting on page 166. It’s simply labeled “Draft,” dated 5 May ...
More News »