Uncovering the ‘missing’ saddlestone

During the last week we have been busy removing the twentieth century floor levels across the footprint of the Kasthamandap. Not only have we identified a succession of modern repairs and elaborations of the monument, we have also identified that some of the floor surfaces incorporated architectural fragments, reused from other structures.

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Reused stone elements in one of the floor surfaces of the Kasthamandap

We have now also peeled off all the tiled surface within the interior of the monument. Removing the tile, we identified the ‘missing’ northeast saddlestone, located exactly where we had postulated, sealed below the most recent paved surface of the Kasthamandap. Therefore, this saddlestone was present, but was not used and was covered by tile. This means that one of the main timbers of the monument’s superstructure was not linked and locked into the resilient  foundations of the Kasthamandap when the earthquake of the 25th April 2015 occurred – a major structural weakness, which may have contributed to its collapse.

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The tiled surface of the Kasthamandap in November 2015, with the northeast saddlestone not visible.

 

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Sunita carefully cleans the rediscovered northeast saddlestone below the tile paving.

 

 

 

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The four saddlestones visible around the central Gorakhnath shrine

 

 

We will now uncover the foundations of the monument and see if we can trace the mandala pattern of cross-walls within the large foundation, linked to all the saddlestones that have now been identified. We will also continue to assess damage to the foundations from seismic events and human interventions.  Indeed, it is clear from our excavations so far, that most damage to the foundations of the Kasthamandap occurred in the emergency response. This year we have identified that the southeast corner of the monument is particularly badly damaged with a huge portion of the foundations dug away by bulldozers and JCBs.

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Damage to the southeast corner of the main foundation of the Kasthamandap, caused by bulldozers and JCBs.

 

 

 

 

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