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Earliest Oil Paintings
Posted by TK on 5/10/2008 2:46:57 PM (ET)
Filed Under: General
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Oil paintings dating back to the 5th century have been found in caves in the Afghan region of Bamiyan. They were discovered behind two ancient colossal Buddha statues, which were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. These paintings suggest that Asians, not Europeans, were the first to use oil painting.

Most European history and art textbooks claim that oil painting started in the 15th century in Europe. Experiments performed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) show that the Bamiyan paintings were made of oil, hundreds of years before the technique emerged in Europe.

"This is the earliest clear example of oil paintings in the world, although drying oils were already used by ancient Romans and Egyptians, but only as medicines and cosmetics," said researcher Yoko Taniguchi.

The paintings are probably the work of artists who traveled on the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China, across Central Asia's desert to the West. However, there are very few studies about this region, and due to political reasons, research on paintings in Central Asia remains scarce.

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