The church was built in 1719; a town fair was established in 1723, and even a Free school (which unusual for the time, educated girls too), in 1734.
The town prospered as a trade center for around a hundred years, but as the frontier moved inland, and after the British destroyed much of the town during the American Revolution, the town was largely abandoned by 1800.
The muralsâ€”and the remains of two giant, destroyed Buddhasâ€”include the world’s oldest known oil-based paint, predating European uses of the substance by at least a hundred years, scientists announced late last month.
Researchers made the discovery while conducting a chemical analysis as part of preservation and restoration efforts at Bamian, which lies about 145 miles (240 kilometers) northwest of the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Seen in a 2005 photo, a towering alcove in Afghanistan’s Bamian Valley cliffs shows the former home of a giant Buddha statue. Dating to between the fifth and ninth centuries A.D., the statue was one of a pair destroyed by Taliban officials in 2001.
Researchers have found that the paint used on the Buddhas, along with murals in 12 of 50 painted Bamian caves, contained oil-based bindersâ€”the world’s oldest known examples of oil paintings.
A Buddhist mural dated to around the seventh century A.D. Is one of many in Afghanistan’s Bamian Valley that were recently found to contain oil- and resin-based paints.
The use of the substances at such an early date is a surprise, since they require sophisticated knowledge of chemical properties, scientists say.
Oil is used in paints to help fix dyes and help them adhere to surfaces. It also changes a paint’s drying time and viscosity.
Europeans began using oil in their pictures by about 800 A.D., but the new research on the Central Asian pushes back the onset of oil-based painting by at least a hundred years.
Researchers hope to find even earlier examples by studying other Central Asian sites.
Another mural from the Bamian cave Foladi 6 has been dated to the eighth century A.D. Its artists used an oil-based paint, scientists say, in an early example of mixing organic binding agents with pigments
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During his conquest of Mexico, Cortez found the Aztec Indians using cocoa beans in the preparation of the royal drink of the realm,
“chocolatl”, meaning warm liquid. In 1519, Emperor Montezuma, who reportedly drank 50 or more portions daily, served chocolatl to his Spanish guests in great golden goblets, treating it like a food for the gods.
For all its regal importance, however, Montezuma’s chocolatl was very bitter, and the Spaniards did not find it to their taste. To make the concoction more agreeable to Europeans, Cortez and his countrymen conceived of the idea of sweetening it with cane sugar.
While they took chocolatl back to Spain, the idea found favor and the drink underwent several more changes with newly discovered spices, such as cinnamon and vanilla. Ultimately, someone decided the drink would taste better if served hot.
The new drink won friends, especially among the Spanish aristocracy. Spain wisely proceeded to plant cocoa in its overseas colonies, which gave birth to a very profitable business. Remarkably enough, the Spanish succeeded in keeping the art of the cocoa industry a secret from the rest of Europe for nearly a hundred years.
Tags: cane sugar, chocolatl, cinnamon, cocoa beans, cocoa industry, concoction, conquest of mexico, cortez, countrymen, emperor montezuma, europeans, golden goblets, hundred years, overseas colonies, profitable business, spaniards, spanish aristocracy, spices, which gave birth