Monks at the monasteries lived as hermits in small caves carved into the side of the Bamyan cliffs.
Many of these monks embellished their caves with religious statuary and elaborate, brightly-colored frescoes.
It was the site of several Buddhist and Hindu monasteries, and a thriving center for religion, philosophy, and Indo-Greek art.
It was a Buddhist religious site from the second century up to the time of the Islamic invasion in the ninth century.
This kind of violent intolerance fits in with the mindless, hind-brain driven actions common to religious fanatics everywhere, but developed to a particularly extreme degree by the contemptible thugs of the Taliban, members of which have set out on a campaign to destroy treasured artifacts of other cultures that don’t fit into their pin-headed view of what’s “correct”.
They were perhaps the most famous cultural landmarks of the region and the site was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site along with the surrounding cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamyan Valley.When Xuanzang saw the figures, they were also decorated with gold and fine jewels.The two Buddha figures, together with numerous ancient man-made caves in the cliffs north of the town, made Bamiyan a major regime had the statues destroyed, despite worldwide pleas to save them.An X-ray identification technique, carried out at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, was able to determine that about a dozen of the 50 or so caves were painted in pigments suspended in drying oil, possibly walnut oil or poppy seed oil, mediums still in use today.The results of this investigation were just published in the on Tuesday, though they were presented at a scientific conference in Japan in January.