Old Bagan (built 9th century and thereafter)
�Old Bagan� is the name currently given to the historic capital of the Kingdom of Bagan. From the 11th to the 13th century it ruled over vast areas of modern central Myanmar and beyond. Both within its walls, probably dating from the 9th century, and outside its walls were filled with most unique and lasting Buddhist architecture that remains a marvel today. The walls have crumbled into nothingness or some scattered ruins. Since the royal palace, monasteries and housing were usually made of wood, those also have disappeared.
By the late 13th century, its era of greatness had passed, and the center of power in the region eventually moved elsewhere. But many of its great temples and stupas remained within the old wall, including Shwegugyi, Gawdawpalin, Thatbyinnu, Bupaya, Nathlaung Kyaung and the Mahabodhi which are separately listed on on this website. But the great city itself became a veritable village, perhaps indistinguishable from hundreds of others, except for its temples and stupas, and for the thousands of others on the surrounding Bagan plain.
Two relatively recent events have also dramatically affected the Bagan Archaeological Zone and Old Bagan itself. The region was damaged extensively by an enormously devastating earthquake that struck the region on July 8, 1975. More than half of the important structures were damaged and a number were destroyed. Most of the major temples and pagodas were carefully restored by 1981, although some evidence of the devastation can still be seen.
In 1990 a sudden controversial but peaceful military operation cleared most of the Old Bagan temple quarter of the local housing that had grown up in the area. The villagers were moved to a new site, then a peanut field, some five miles south of their former location. Evidence of their former village slowly are disappearing. Old Bagan within the confines of the remaining city walls consists now primarily of some temples and pagodas. Additionally there remain a few historic hotels and the new Bagan Archaeological Museum. This specific site will deal with certain elements of Old Bagan, other than the great temples mentioned above.
Text by Robert D. Fiala, Concordia University, Nebraska
All images copyright 2002 by Professor Robert D. Fiala of Concordia University, Nebraska, USA
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