600-Year-Old Buddha Statue Re-Emerges Following Water Level Drops


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

Archaeologists investigate the Buddha head at the Hongmen reservoir on January 8, 2017. Wan Xiang/Xinhua Sipa USA/PA

Villagers in east China had a nice surprise the other day when falling water levels revealed a 600-year-old Buddha statue, Chinese state media Xinhua reports.

Water levels have fallen almost 10 meters (33 feet) at the Hongmen Reservoir, also known as Zuixian Lake, in the Nancheng county of Jiangsu Province following the construction of a nearby hydropower gate renovation.


Archeologists quickly made their way towards the sleepy town last week, after a local resident spotted the stone head of a Buddha emerge out the water’s surface. Archeological diving teams were also brought onto the scene to investigate.

After a quick look, the researchers think the 3.8-meter (12.4-foot) tall statue, could date back to around the 14th century. The statue remains remarkably intact as it has avoided weather erosion. It's also a fortunate survivor of Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution, which sought to aggressively remove traditional elements from Chinese society between 1966 until 1976.

"A preliminary study of the statue suggests it was probably built during early Ming Dynasty, maybe even earlier as the Yuan Dynasty," Xu Changqing, director of the Research Institute of Archaeology of Jiangxi province, told CNN News.

Most exciting of all, this is just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the town’s treasures. An 82-year-old blacksmith, Huang Keping, recalls visiting the site before the reservoir was built in 1958, saying he remembers how a small temple stood at the foot of the Buddha statue.


He told Xinhau: "I went to the temple in 1952 and saw the Buddha statue for the first time. I remember the statue was gilded at that time."


  • tag
  • China,

  • archeology,

  • history,

  • statue,

  • reservoir,

  • artwork,

  • Buddha,

  • water levels