Ancestral Puebloan dwellings
Hundreds of Ancestral Puebloan dwellings are found across the American Southwest. With all constructed well before 1492 CE, these Puebloan towns and villages are located throughout the geography of the Southwest. Many of these dwellings included various defensive positions, like the high steep mesas such as at the ancient Mesa Verde complex or the present-day Acoma "Sky City" Pueblo. Earlier than 900 CE progressing past the 13th century, the population complexes appear to have been major cultural centers for the Pueblo peoples. There were settlements scattered throughout the region of varying sizes. Ancestral Pueblo peoples spanned Northern Arizona and New Mexico, Southern Colorado and Utah, a part of Southeastern Nevada, they lived north of the Patayan, Hohokam, Trincheras and Casas Grandes cultures of the Southwest and south of the Fremont culture of the Great Basin. There are 21 federally recognized pueblos in the United States today. Rio Grande pueblos are known as eastern Pueblos; the dwellings of the Pueblo peoples are located throughout the American Southwest and north central Mexico.
The American states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona all have evidence of Pueblo peoples' dwellings. Archaeologists have agreed on three main periods of ancient occupation by Pueblo peoples throughout the Southwest called Pueblo I, Pueblo II, Pueblo III. Pueblo I. Pueblo buildings were built with stone, windows facing south, in U, E and L shapes; the buildings were located more together and reflected deepening religious celebration. Towers were built near kivas and used for look-outs. Pottery became more versatile, not just for cooking, but now included pitchers, bowls and dishware for food and drink. White pottery with black designs emerged. Water management and conservation techniques, including the use of reservoirs and silt-retaining dams emerged during this period. Midway through this period, about AD 900, the number of Hovenweep residential sites increased. Pueblo II. During the Pueblo II period there was an increase in population that resulted in creation of more than 10,000 sites in 150 years.
Since much of the land was arid, the people supplemented their diet by hunting and trading pottery for food. By the end of the period, there were two-story dwellings made of stone masonry, the presence of towers, family and community kivas. Pueblo III. Rohn and Ferguson, authors of Puebloan ruins of the Southwest, state that during the Pueblo III period there was a significant community change. Moving in from dispersed farmsteads into community centers at pueblos canyon heads or cliff dwellings on canyon shelves. Population peaked between 1250 to more than 20,000 in the Mesa Verde region. By 1300 Ancient Pueblo People abandoned their settlements, as the result of climate changes and food shortage, moved south to villages in Arizona and New Mexico; the ancient population centers such as Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, Bandelier for which the Ancestral Puebloans are renowned consisted of apartment-like complexes and structures made from stone, adobe mud, other local material, or were carved into the sides of canyon walls.
The structures contained within these alcoves were blocks of hard sandstone, held together and plastered with adobe mortar. Specific constructions had many similarities, but were unique in form due to the individual topography of different alcoves along the canyon walls. Decorative motifs for these sandstone/mortar constructions, both cliff dwellings and otherwise, included T-shaped windows and doors. Most notable Pueblo structures were built like an apartment complex. Speaking, Pueblo buildings feature a box base, smaller box on top, an smaller one on top of that, with the tallest reaching four and five stories. There were floors for storage and defense and religious ceremonies. There were no doors on the bottom floor until recent times; this limited access to the buildings so movable ladders were key elements. One ladder would take inhabitants to the patio, or second floor, another led through an opening through a roof and onto the first floor. Other ladders led to higher floors; the key technology of the Pueblo peoples was their irrigation techniques.
These were used throughout their dwellings, determined the siting of communities. Many pueblos feature T-shaped doors in adobe walls. One meter wide, they are wider on top and narrower below; the Great house-style pueblos were constructed on a box system. Builders used molds to pour compacted mud without organic material; the exterior was stuccoed with sand and oyster dust shells it was painted blue, green, or pink. Made without foundations, the walls were built from slots; the doors were proportional to the size of the room. Stairs and ladders were built to allow access to the buildings. There are a number of consistent features surrounding the dwellings, they include water retention structures like the Mesa Verde Reservoirs, stone towers. Each were about 60 meters long, 33 meters apart, 2.5 meters high. In 2009 it was suggested that the shape of an oval bowl with curved sides and the uneven embankments on the long sides are unsuited for any kind of ball game. For a period of time, pueblos throughout the Southwest were connected by a network of roads that radiated from Chaco Canyon, bel
The Neolithic Revolution, Neolithic Demographic Transition, Agricultural Revolution, or First Agricultural Revolution was the wide-scale transition of many human cultures during the Neolithic period from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement, making an larger population possible. These settled communities permitted humans to observe and experiment with plants to learn how they grew and developed; this new knowledge led to the domestication of plants. Archaeological data indicates that the domestication of various types of plants and animals happened in separate locations worldwide, starting in the geological epoch of the Holocene around 12,500 years ago, it was the world's first verifiable revolution in agriculture. The Neolithic Revolution narrowed the diversity of foods available, resulting in a downturn in the quality of human nutrition; the Neolithic Revolution involved far more than the adoption of a limited set of food-producing techniques. During the next millennia it would transform the small and mobile groups of hunter-gatherers that had hitherto dominated human pre-history into sedentary societies based in built-up villages and towns.
These societies radically modified their natural environment by means of specialized food-crop cultivation, with activities such as irrigation and deforestation which allowed the production of surplus food. Other developments found widely are the domestication of animals, polished stone tools, rectangular houses; these developments, sometimes called the Neolithic package, provided the basis for centralized administrations and political structures, hierarchical ideologies, depersonalized systems of knowledge, densely populated settlements and division of labour, more trade, the development of non-portable art and architecture, property ownership. The earliest known civilization developed in Sumer in southern Mesopotamia; the relationship of the above-mentioned Neolithic characteristics to the onset of agriculture, their sequence of emergence, empirical relation to each other at various Neolithic sites remains the subject of academic debate, varies from place to place, rather than being the outcome of universal laws of social evolution.
The Levant saw the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BCE, followed by sites in the wider Fertile Crescent. The term Neolithic Revolution was coined in 1923 by V. Gordon Childe to describe the first in a series of agricultural revolutions in Middle Eastern history; the period is described as a "revolution" to denote its importance, the great significance and degree of change affecting the communities in which new agricultural practices were adopted and refined. The beginning of this process in different regions has been dated from 10,000 to 8,000 BC in the Fertile Crescent and 8000 BC in the Kuk Early Agricultural Site of Melanesia; this transition everywhere seems associated with a change from a nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life to a more settled, agrarian-based one, with the inception of the domestication of various plant and animal species—depending on the species locally available, also influenced by local culture. Recent archaeological research suggests that in some regions such as the Southeast Asian peninsula, the transition from hunter-gatherer to agriculturalist was not linear, but region-specific.
There are several competing theories as to the factors that drove populations to take up agriculture. The most prominent of these are: The Oasis Theory proposed by Raphael Pumpelly in 1908, popularized by V. Gordon Childe in 1928 and summarised in Childe's book Man Makes Himself; this theory maintains that as the climate got drier due to the Atlantic depressions shifting northward, communities contracted to oases where they were forced into close association with animals, which were domesticated together with planting of seeds. However, today this theory has little support amongst archaeologists because subsequent climate data suggests that the region was getting wetter rather than drier; the Hilly Flanks hypothesis, proposed by Robert Braidwood in 1948, suggests that agriculture began in the hilly flanks of the Taurus and Zagros mountains, where the climate was not drier as Childe had believed, fertile land supported a variety of plants and animals amenable to domestication. The Feasting model by Brian Hayden suggests that agriculture was driven by ostentatious displays of power, such as giving feasts, to exert dominance.
This required assembling large quantities of food. The Demographic theories proposed by Carl Sauer and adapted by Lewis Binford and Kent Flannery posit an sedentary population that expanded up to the carrying capacity of the local environment and required more food than could be gathered. Various social and economic factors helped drive the need for food; the evolutionary/intentionality theory, developed by David Rindos and others, views agriculture as an evolutionary adaptation of plants and humans. Starting with domestication by protection of wild plants, it led to specialization of location and full-fledged domestication. Peter Richerson, Robert Boyd, Robert Bettinger make a case for the development of agriculture coinciding with an stable climate at the beginning of the Holocene. Ronald Wright's book and Massey Lecture Series A Short History of Progress popularized this hypothesis; the postulated Younger Dryas impact event, claimed to be in part responsible for megafauna extinction and ending the last glacial period, could have provided circumstances that required the evolution
The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric period during which stone was used to make implements with an edge, a point, or a percussion surface. The period lasted 3.4 million years and ended between 8700 BCE and 2000 BCE with the advent of metalworking. Stone Age artifacts include tools used by modern humans and by their predecessor species in the genus Homo, by the earlier contemporaneous genera Australopithecus and Paranthropus. Bone tools were used during this period as well but are preserved in the archaeological record; the Stone Age is further subdivided by the types of stone tools in use. The Stone Age is the first period in the three-age system of archaeology, which divides human technological prehistory into three periods: The Stone Age The Bronze Age The Iron Age The Stone Age is contemporaneous with the evolution of the genus Homo, the only exception being the early Stone Age, when species prior to Homo may have manufactured tools. According to the age and location of the current evidence, the cradle of the genus is the East African Rift System toward the north in Ethiopia, where it is bordered by grasslands.
The closest relative among the other living primates, the genus Pan, represents a branch that continued on in the deep forest, where the primates evolved. The rift served as a conduit for movement into southern Africa and north down the Nile into North Africa and through the continuation of the rift in the Levant to the vast grasslands of Asia. Starting from about 4 million years ago a single biome established itself from South Africa through the rift, North Africa, across Asia to modern China, called "transcontinental'savannahstan'" recently. Starting in the grasslands of the rift, Homo erectus, the predecessor of modern humans, found an ecological niche as a tool-maker and developed a dependence on it, becoming a "tool equipped savanna dweller"; the oldest indirect evidence found of stone tool use is fossilised animal bones with tool marks. Archaeological discoveries in Kenya in 2015, identifying the oldest known evidence of hominin use of tools to date, have indicated that Kenyanthropus platyops may have been the earliest tool-users known.
The oldest stone tools were excavated from the site of Lomekwi 3 in West Turkana, northwestern Kenya, date to 3.3 million years old. Prior to the discovery of these "Lomekwian" tools, the oldest known stone tools had been found at several sites at Gona, Ethiopia, on the sediments of the paleo-Awash River, which serve to date them. All the tools come from the Busidama Formation, which lies above a disconformity, or missing layer, which would have been from 2.9 to 2.7 mya. The oldest sites containing tools are dated to 2.6–2.55 mya. One of the most striking circumstances about these sites is that they are from the Late Pliocene, where previous to their discovery tools were thought to have evolved only in the Pleistocene. Excavators at the locality point out that: "...the earliest stone tool makers were skilled flintknappers.... The possible reasons behind this seeming abrupt transition from the absence of stone tools to the presence thereof include... gaps in the geological record."The species who made the Pliocene tools remains unknown.
Fragments of Australopithecus garhi, Australopithecus aethiopicus and Homo Homo habilis, have been found in sites near the age of the Gona tools. In July 2018, scientists reported the discovery in China of the oldest stone tools outside Africa, estimated at 2.12 million years old. Innovation of the technique of smelting ore began the Bronze Age; the first most significant metal manufactured was bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, each of, smelted separately. The transition from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age was a period during which modern people could smelt copper, but did not yet manufacture bronze, a time known as the Copper Age, or more technically the Chalcolithic, "copper-stone" age; the Chalcolithic by convention is the initial period of the Bronze Age. The Bronze Age was followed by the Iron Age; the transition out of the Stone Age occurred between 6000 BCE and 2500 BCE for much of humanity living in North Africa and Eurasia. The first evidence of human metallurgy dates to between the 5th and 6th millennium BCE in the archaeological sites of Majdanpek and Pločnik in modern-day Serbia, though not conventionally considered part of the Chalcolithic or "Copper Age", this provides the earliest known example of copper metallurgy.
Note the Rudna Glava mine in Serbia. Ötzi the Iceman, a mummy from about 3300 BCE carried with him a flint knife. In regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, the Stone Age was followed directly by the Iron Age; the Middle East and southeastern Asian regions progressed past Stone Age technology around 6000 BCE. Europe, the rest of Asia became post-Stone Age societies by about 4000 BCE; the proto-Inca cultures of South America continued at a Stone Age level until around 2000 BCE, when gold and silver made their entrance. The Americas notably did not develop a widespread behavior of smelting Bronze or Iron after the Stone Age period, although the technology existed. Stone tool manufacture continued after the Stone Age ended in a given area. In Europe and North America, millstones were in use until well into the 20th century, still are in many parts of the world; the terms "Stone Age", "Bronze Age", "Iron Age" were never meant to suggest that advancement and time periods in prehistory are only measured by the type of tool material, rather than, for
Colorado is a state of the Western United States encompassing most of the southern Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains. It is the 8th most extensive and 21st most populous U. S. state. The estimated population of Colorado was 5,695,564 on July 1, 2018, an increase of 13.25% since the 2010 United States Census. The state was named for the Colorado River, which early Spanish explorers named the Río Colorado for the ruddy silt the river carried from the mountains; the Territory of Colorado was organized on February 28, 1861, on August 1, 1876, U. S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed Proclamation 230 admitting Colorado to the Union as the 38th state. Colorado is nicknamed the "Centennial State" because it became a state one century after the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence. Colorado is bordered by Wyoming to the north, Nebraska to the northeast, Kansas to the east, Oklahoma to the southeast, New Mexico to the south, Utah to the west, touches Arizona to the southwest at the Four Corners.
Colorado is noted for its vivid landscape of mountains, high plains, canyons, plateaus and desert lands. Colorado is part of the western and southwestern United States, is one of the Mountain States. Denver is most populous city of Colorado. Residents of the state are known as Coloradans, although the antiquated term "Coloradoan" is used. Colorado is notable for its diverse geography, which includes alpine mountains, high plains, deserts with huge sand dunes, deep canyons. In 1861, the United States Congress defined the boundaries of the new Territory of Colorado by lines of latitude and longitude, stretching from 37°N to 41°N latitude, from 102°02'48"W to 109°02'48"W longitude. After 158 years of government surveys, the borders of Colorado are now defined by 697 boundary markers and 697 straight boundary lines. Colorado and Utah are the only states that have their borders defined by straight boundary lines with no natural features; the southwest corner of Colorado is the Four Corners Monument at 36°59'56"N, 109°2'43"W.
This is the only place in the United States where four states meet: Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The summit of Mount Elbert at 14,440 feet elevation in Lake County is the highest point in Colorado and the Rocky Mountains of North America. Colorado is the only U. S. state that lies above 1,000 meters elevation. The point where the Arikaree River flows out of Yuma County and into Cheyenne County, Kansas, is the lowest point in Colorado at 3,317 feet elevation; this point, which holds the distinction of being the highest low elevation point of any state, is higher than the high elevation points of 18 states and the District of Columbia. A little less than half of Colorado is flat and rolling land. East of the Rocky Mountains are the Colorado Eastern Plains of the High Plains, the section of the Great Plains within Nebraska at elevations ranging from 3,350 to 7,500 feet; the Colorado plains are prairies but include deciduous forests and canyons. Precipitation averages 15 to 25 inches annually. Eastern Colorado is presently farmland and rangeland, along with small farming villages and towns.
Corn, hay and oats are all typical crops. Most villages and towns in this region boast both a grain elevator. Irrigation water is available from subterranean sources. Surface water sources include the South Platte, the Arkansas River, a few other streams. Subterranean water is accessed through artesian wells. Heavy use of wells for irrigation caused underground water reserves to decline. Eastern Colorado hosts considerable livestock, such as hog farms. 70% of Colorado's population resides along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in the Front Range Urban Corridor between Cheyenne and Pueblo, Colorado. This region is protected from prevailing storms that blow in from the Pacific Ocean region by the high Rockies in the middle of Colorado; the "Front Range" includes Denver, Fort Collins, Castle Rock, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and other townships and municipalities in between. On the other side of the Rockies, the significant population centers in Western Colorado are the cities of Grand Junction and Montrose.
The Continental Divide of the Americas extends along the crest of the Rocky Mountains. The area of Colorado to the west of the Continental Divide is called the Western Slope of Colorado. West of the Continental Divide, water flows to the southwest via the Colorado River and the Green River into the Gulf of California. Within the interior of the Rocky Mountains are several large parks which are high broad basins. In the north, on the east side of the Continental Divide is the North Park of Colorado; the North Park is drained by the North Platte River, which flows north into Nebraska. Just to the south of North Park, but on the western side of the Continental Divide, is the Middle Park of Colorado, drained by the Colorado River; the South Park of Colorado is the region of the headwaters of the South Platte River. In southmost Colorado is the large San Luis Valley, where the headwaters of the Rio Grande are located; the valley sits between the Sangre De Cristo Mountains and San Juan Mountains, consists of large desert lands that run into the mountains.
The Rio Grande drains due south into New Mexico and Texas. Across the Sangre de Cristo Range to the east of the S
Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions and spiritual practices based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. Buddhism originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of Asia. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are recognized by scholars: Theravada and Mahayana. Most Buddhist traditions share the goal of overcoming suffering and the cycle of death and rebirth, either by the attainment of Nirvana or through the path of Buddhahood. Buddhist schools vary in their interpretation of the path to liberation, the relative importance and canonicity assigned to the various Buddhist texts, their specific teachings and practices. Observed practices include taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, observance of moral precepts, monasticism and the cultivation of the Paramitas.
Theravada Buddhism has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia such as Myanmar and Thailand. Mahayana, which includes the traditions of Pure Land, Nichiren Buddhism and Tiantai, is found throughout East Asia. Vajrayana, a body of teachings attributed to Indian adepts, may be viewed as a separate branch or as an aspect of Mahayana Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism, which preserves the Vajrayana teachings of eighth-century India, is practiced in the countries of the Himalayan region and Kalmykia. Buddhism is an Indian religion attributed to the teachings of the Buddha born Siddhārtha Gautama, known as the Tathāgata and Sakyamuni. Early texts have his personal name as "Gautama" or "Gotama" without any mention of "Siddhārtha," which appears to have been a kind of honorific title when it does appear; the details of Buddha's life are mentioned in many Early Buddhist Texts but are inconsistent, his social background and life details are difficult to prove, the precise dates uncertain. The evidence of the early texts suggests that he was born as Siddhārtha Gautama in Lumbini and grew up in Kapilavasthu, a town in the plains region of the modern Nepal-India border, that he spent his life in what is now modern Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Some hagiographic legends state that his father was a king named Suddhodana, his mother was Queen Maya, he was born in Lumbini gardens. However, scholars such as Richard Gombrich consider this a dubious claim because a combination of evidence suggests he was born in the Shakyas community – one that gave him the title Shakyamuni, the Shakya community was governed by a small oligarchy or republic-like council where there were no ranks but where seniority mattered instead; some of the stories about Buddha, his life, his teachings, claims about the society he grew up in may have been invented and interpolated at a time into the Buddhist texts. According to the Buddhist sutras, Gautama was moved by the innate suffering of humanity and its endless repetition due to rebirth, he set out on a quest to end this repeated suffering. Early Buddhist canonical texts and early biographies of Gautama state that Gautama first studied under Vedic teachers, namely Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, learning meditation and ancient philosophies the concept of "nothingness, emptiness" from the former, "what is neither seen nor unseen" from the latter.
Finding these teachings to be insufficient to attain his goal, he turned to the practice of asceticism. This too fell short of attaining his goal, he turned to the practice of dhyana, which he had discovered in his youth, he famously sat in meditation under a Ficus religiosa tree now called the Bodhi Tree in the town of Bodh Gaya in the Gangetic plains region of South Asia. He gained insight into the workings of karma and his former lives, attained enlightenment, certainty about the Middle Way as the right path of spiritual practice to end suffering from rebirths in Saṃsāra; as a enlightened Buddha, he attracted followers and founded a Sangha. Now, as the Buddha, he spent the rest of his life teaching the Dharma he had discovered, died at the age of 80 in Kushinagar, India. Buddha's teachings were propagated by his followers, which in the last centuries of the 1st millennium BCE became over 18 Buddhist sub-schools of thought, each with its own basket of texts containing different interpretations and authentic teachings of the Buddha.
The Four Truths express the basic orientation of Buddhism: we crave and cling to impermanent states and things, dukkha, "incapable of satisfying" and painful. This keeps us caught in saṃsāra, the endless cycle of repeated rebirth and dying again, but there is a way to liberation from this endless cycle to the state of nirvana, namely following the Noble Eightfold Path. The truth of dukkha is the basic insight that life in this mundane world, with its clinging and craving to impermanent states and things is dukkha, unsatisfactory. Dukkha can be translated as "incapable of satisfying," "the unsatisfactory nature and the general insecurity of all conditioned phenomena". Dukkha is most translated as "suffering," but this is inaccurate, since it refers not to episodic suffering, but to the intrinsically unsat
Ellora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India. It is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world, featuring Buddhist and Jain monuments, artwork, dating from the 600-1000 CE period. Cave 16, in particular, features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Shiva; the Kailasha temple excavation features sculptures depicting the gods and mythologies found in Vaishnavism, Shaktism as well as relief panels summarizing the two major Hindu Epics. There are over 100 caves at the site, all excavated from the basalt cliffs in the Charanandri Hills, 34 of which are open to public; these consist of 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain caves, with each group representing deities and mythologies that were prevalent in the 1st millennium CE, as well as monasteries of each respective religion. They were built in proximity to one another and illustrate the religious harmony that existed in ancient India.
All of the Ellora monuments were built during Hindu dynasties such as the Rashtrakuta dynasty, which constructed part of the Hindu & Buddhist caves, the Yadava dynasty, which constructed a number of the Jain caves. Funding for the construction of the monuments was provided by royals and the wealthy of the region. Although the caves served as monasteries, temples and a rest stop for pilgrims, its location on an ancient South Asian trade route made it an important commercial centre in the Deccan region, it is 29 kilometres north-west of Aurangabad, about 300 kilometres east-northeast of Mumbai. Today, the Ellora Caves, along with the nearby Ajanta Caves, are a major tourist attraction in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra and a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India. Ellora called Verul or Elura, is the short form of the ancient name Elapura; the older form of the name has been found in ancient references such as the Baroda inscription of 812 CE which mentions "the greatness of this edifice" and that "this great edifice was built on a hill by Krishnaraja at Elapura".
The edifice in the inscription being the Kailasa temple. In the Indian tradition, each cave has a suffix Guha, Lena or Leni, meaning cave; the Ellora caves are located in the Indian state of Maharashtra about 29 kilometres northwest from the city of Aurangabad, 300 kilometres east-northeast from Mumbai, about 100 kilometres west from the Ajanta Caves. Ellora occupies a flat rocky region of the Western Ghats, where ancient volcanic activity in this area had created multilayered basalt formations, known as the Deccan Traps; the volcanic activity that formed the west-facing cliff, which houses the Ellora caves, occurred during the Cretaceous period. The resulting vertical face made access to many layers of rock formations easier, enabling architects to pick basalt with finer grains for more detailed sculpting; the construction at Ellora has been studied since British colonial rule. Officers of the British Colonial Army stumbled on the cave complex of Ajanta during a tiger hunt in 1819. At that time, the caves, which had once served Buddhist monks as a monastery and temple, had been abandoned for a millennium.
However, the overlapping styles between the Buddhist and Jaina caves has made it difficult to establish agreement concerning the chronology of their construction. The disputes concern: one, whether the Buddhist or Hindu caves were carved first and, the relative dating of caves within a particular tradition; the broad consensus that has emerged is based on comparing the carving styles, at Ellora, to other cave temples in the Deccan region that have been dated, textual records of various dynasties, epigraphical evidence found at various archaeological sites near Ellora and elsewhere in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. Geri Hockfield Malandra, other scholars, has stated that the Ellora caves had three important building periods: an early Hindu period, a Buddhist phase and a Hindu, Jain, phase; the earliest caves may have been built during the Traikutakas and Vakataka dynasties, the latter being known for sponsoring the Ajanta caves. However, it is considered that some of the earliest caves, such as Cave 29, were built by the Shiva-inspired Kalachuri dynasty, while the Buddhist caves were built by the Chalukya dynasty.
The Hindu caves and early Jaina caves were built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty, while the last Jaina caves were built by the Yadava dynasty, which had sponsored other Jaina cave temples. These caves are located on the southern side and were built either between 630-700 CE, or 600-730 CE, it was thought that the Buddhist caves were the earliest structures that were created between the fifth and eighth centuries, with caves 1-5 in the first phase and 6-12 in the phase, but modern scholarship now considers the construction of Hindu caves to have been before the Buddhist caves. The earliest Buddhist cave is Cave 6 5, 2, 3, 5, 4, 7, 8, 10 and 9, with caves 11 and 12 known as Do Thal and Tin Thal being the last. Eleven out of the twelve Buddhist caves consist of viharas, or monasteries with prayer halls: large, multi-storeyed buildings carved into the mountain face, including living quarters, sleeping quarters and other rooms; the monastery caves have shrines including carvings of Gautama Buddha and saints.
In some of these caves, sculptors have endeavoured to give the stone the look of wood. Caves 5, 10, 11 and
The Mogao Caves known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes or Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, form a system of 492 temples 25 km southeast of the center of Dunhuang, an oasis located at a religious and cultural crossroads on the Silk Road, in Gansu province, China. The caves may be known as the Dunhuang Caves; the caves contain some of the finest examples of Buddhist art spanning a period of 1,000 years. The first caves were dug out in AD 366 as places of Buddhist worship; the Mogao Caves are the best known of the Chinese Buddhist grottoes and, along with Longmen Grottoes and Yungang Grottoes, are one of the three famous ancient Buddhist sculptural sites of China. An important cache of documents was discovered in 1900 in the so-called "Library Cave", walled-up in the 11th century; the contents of the library were subsequently dispersed around the world, the largest collections are now found in Beijing, London and Berlin, the International Dunhuang Project exists to coordinate and collect scholarly work on the Dunhuang manuscripts and other material.
The caves themselves are now a popular tourist destination, with a number open for visiting. The caves are referred to in Chinese as the Thousand Buddha Caves, a name that some scholars have speculated to have come from the legend of its founding, when a monk Yuezun had a vision of a thousand Buddhas at the site; this name however may have come from the large number of Buddha figures at the site, or the miniatures figures painted on the walls of these caves as these figures are called "thousand Buddhas" colloquially. The name Mogao Caves was used in the Tang dynasty, where'Mogao' refers to an administrative district at the site during the Tang dynasty. Mogao may mean "peerless". Mogao is used as the name of a modern town, administered by Dunhuang city: Mogao Town; the Mogao Caves are often referred to as the Dunhuang Caves after the nearest city Dunhuang, which means "blazing beacon" as beacons were used at the frontier outpost to warn of attacks by nomadic tribes. The term Dunhuang Caves however is used in a broader sense as a collective term for all the caves found in or around the Dunhuang area.
Dunhuang was established as a frontier garrison outpost by the Han Dynasty Emperor Wudi to protect against the Xiongnu in 111 BC. It became an important gateway to the West, a centre of commerce along the Silk Road, as well as a meeting place of various people and religions such as Buddhism; the construction of the Mogao Caves near Dunhuang is taken to have begun sometime in the fourth century AD. According to a book written during the reign of Tang Empress Wu, Fokan Ji by Li Junxiu, a Buddhist monk named Lè Zūn had a vision of a thousand Buddhas bathed in golden light at the site in 366 AD, inspiring him to build a cave here; the story is found in other sources, such as in inscriptions on a stele in cave 332. He was joined by a second monk Faliang, the site grew, by the time of the Northern Liang a small community of monks had formed at the site; the caves served only as a place of meditation for hermit monks, but developed to serve the monasteries that sprang up nearby. Members of the ruling family of Northern Wei and Northern Zhou constructed many caves here, it flourished in the short-lived Sui Dynasty.
By the Tang Dynasty, the number of caves had reached over a thousand. By the Sui and Tang dynasties, Mogao Caves had become a place of worship and pilgrimage for the public. From the 4th until the 14th century, caves were constructed by monks to serve as shrines with funds from donors; these caves were elaborately painted, the cave paintings and architecture serving as aids to meditation, as visual representations of the quest for enlightenment, as mnemonic devices, as teaching tools to inform those illiterate about Buddhist beliefs and stories. The major caves were sponsored by patrons such as important clergy, local ruling elite, foreign dignitaries, as well as Chinese emperors. Other caves may have been funded by merchants, military officers, other local people such as women's groups. During the Tang Dynasty, Dunhuang became the main hub of commerce of the Silk Road and a major religious centre. A large number of the caves were constructed at Mogao during this era, including the two large statues of Buddha at the site, the largest one constructed in 695 following an edict a year earlier by Tang Empress Wu Zetian to build giant statues across the country.
The site escaped the persecution of Buddhists ordered by Emperor Wuzong in 845 as it was under Tibetan control. As a frontier town, Dunhuang had been occupied at various times by other non-Han Chinese people. After the Tang Dynasty, the site went into a gradual decline, construction of new caves ceased after the Yuan Dynasty. By Islam had conquered much of Central Asia, the Silk Road declined in importance when trading via sea-routes began to dominate Chinese trade with the outside world. During the Ming Dynasty, the Silk Road was officially abandoned, Dunhuang became depopulated and forgotten by the outsi