Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Art Attack Volume 54 Number 3, May/June 2001
Kristin M. Romey

A suicide truck bomb was a "blessing in disguise" for Sri Lanka's holiest Buddhist shrine, the sixteenth-century Temple of the Tooth. While the 1998 bombing by separatist Tamil Tigers blew the roof off the shrine, which houses a tooth of the Buddha, it also took away layers of plaster that covered previously unknown eighteenth-century wall paintings depicting a ceremonial pageant.

Although the porous walls of the temple absorbed the shock of the explosion, which killed 16 people, restoration work on the UNESCO World Heritage site took nearly three years and $1.5 million to complete.

"We have now completed 99 percent of the restoration work," said Neranjan Wijeyeratne, chief lay custodian of the temple. "Today, we have a living miracle."

© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America