Indian archaeologists have unearthed a statue of an elephant in Odisha carved about 2,300 years ago, when Buddhism was the main religion in the region during the reign of Emperor Ashoka.
The statue is about 3 feet (1 metre) high and carved from rock in the same style as other Buddhist statues of elephants found across the state of Odisha.
Historian Anil Dhir and other members of an archaeological team from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) unearthed the statue in April at a village on the banks of the Daya River in Odisha’s Puri District.
“We were surveying the Daya River Valley to document its heritage,” Live Science reported Dhir as saying. “This area is rich in artifacts from the ancient Buddhism which flourished here.”
The team found several other buried archaeological relics around the village, including architectural pieces from a Buddhist temple, the Life Science report added.
The elephant statue is very similar to one found at Dhauli, also known as Dhaulagiri, an ancient center of Buddhism about 19 km upstream and has been dated to between 272 B.C. and 231 B.C., according to Dhir
The elephant statue has a deep link with Buddhist teachings. “In the quiet solitude of the forests, the spiritual giant finds solace, as does the mighty elephant,” the Buddha once said, as quoted in the Udana or “heartfelt sayings,” according to a report in Bhutan Live