The joint Polish-US archaeological mission operating in the city of Barniki on the Red Sea coast has uncovered a statue of the Buddha from the Roman era.
The discovery took place during excavation work in the city’s ancient temple, Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, announced.
The archaeological mission has been working at the site since 1994 under the supervision of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
Excavations this season at the site have shown a plethora of significant evidence, suggesting the possibility of trade links between Egypt and India during the Roman era.
In this period, Egypt was centrally located on the trade route that connected the Roman Empire to many areas of the ancient world, including India.
Many ports during the Roman era were established on the Red Sea coast of Egypt for trade.
The most important of these was Berenice port, where ships arrived from India laden with products, such as pepper, semi-precious stones, textiles, and ivory.
Shipments were transferred by camels across the desert to the Nile.
Other ships also transported the goods to Alexandria and from there to the rest of the Roman Empire.
The discovered statue was made of stone that may have been quarried from the area south of Istanbul.
There are also other speciations that say it may have been carved locally in Barniki and dedicated to the temple by one or more wealthy merchants from India, Mariusz Goyazda, head of the Polish mission, said.
The height of the statue is 71 cm. It depicts the Buddha standing and carrying part of his clothes in his left hand.
There is also a halo around his head with the rays of the sun depicted on it, which indicates his radiant mind. There is also a lotus flower next to him, Goyazda added.
Steven E Sidebotham, head of the US mission, said that during excavations in the temple, they uncovered an inscription in the Hindi language (Sanskrit) dating back to the Roman Emperor Philip the Arab (Marcus Julius Philippus) (244-249 AD).
The inscription does not seem to be of the same date as the statue, which seems much older.
The other visible inscriptions in the same temple were in Greek, dating back to the early first century AD.
Additionally, two coins from the second century AD were found from the middle Indian Kingdom of Satavahana.