West portion of the area of the Amravati Stupa excavated in 1880, seen from the south-west
Photographer: Coney, Sergeant
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the site of the stupa of Amaravati, near the ancient city of Dharanikota in Andhra Pradesh, with sculpture finds laid out on the ground, taken by Sergeant Coney in 1880. The Amaravati Stupa was founded in the 3rd-2nd centuries BC and enlarged in the 1st-4th centuries AD under the Satavahana and Ikshvaku patronage and represents one of the greatest architectural achievement of ancient India. Colin Mackenzie (1754-1821) encountered the stupa at Amaravati in 1798, making him the first European to discover this Second Century Buddhist monument. In the 19th century a series of excavations took place at the site. In 1880 the Governor of Madras, the Duke of Buckingham, gave the order to J.G. Horsfall to 'clear' the site. In this way the site turned into a large pit with the excavated sculpture arranged around it. In the Buddhist Stupas of Amravati and Jaggayapeta of 1887, James Burgess, who was in charge of the next phase of excavations at Amaravati, wrote, "The removal, in 1880, of all the debris and the other remains of the stupa within the area of the rails...destroyed forever the chance of recovering any precise dimensions of the central pile, which even a few bricks in situ might have fixed. " The monument now only survives in the collections of the Amaravati sculptures kept in various museums.