Archeologists believe that an ancient Buddha statue discovered by villagers in China’s Jiangxi Province is about 600 years old, dating back to the Ming Dynasty, state news agency Xinhua reported last week.
The top of the statue was spotted last month when villagers noticed a Buddha’s head sticking out of the Hongmen Reservoir. According to Xinhua, water levels in the reservoir had fallen due to a recent construction project, revealing a sculpture.
After an underwater expedition, researchers confirmed that the statue was about 12 feet long and carved into the cliffside. They also found the base of a hall beneath the statue and a 30-character inscription, which archeologists believe indicate that a temple had previously been there.
The reservoir was built in 1958 on the ruins of the ancient Xiaoshi Township, according to county records obtained by Xinhua. The Buddha statue was erected at the intersection of two rivers.
Xu Changqing, director of the Research Institute of Archaeology of Jiangxi province, told CNN that the statue may have been protected by being underwater for so many years, since the sculpture wasn’t subjected to other elements.
Archeologists are putting a longer-term preservation plan in place to protect the ancient ruin. Hopefully they won’t look to the infamous 2014 “repair job” of the Great Wall for inspiration.