Nepal findings confirm early date of Buddha’s life!
Kathmandu – Archaeologists working in Nepal have uncovered evidence of a structure at the birthplace of the Buddha dating back to the sixth century B.C.
This is the first archaeological material linking the life of the Buddha to a specific century.
Excavations within the Sacred Garden of Lumbini, a UNESCO World Heritage site identified as the Buddha’s birthplace, led to the remains of a previously unknown timber structure under a series of brick temples.
Laid out on the same design as those above it, the timber structure contains an open space in the centre that links to the nativity story of the Buddha himself.
“Very little is known about the life of the Buddha, except through textual sources and oral tradition,” said archaeologist Robin Coningham of Durham University in Britain who co-led the investigation.
Coningham said: “Now, for the first time, we have an archaeological sequence at Lumbini that shows a buil! ding there as early as the sixth century B.C.”
Buddhist! tradition records that Queen Maya Devi, the Buddha’s mother, gave birth to him while holding on to the branch of a tree in the Lumbini Garden, midway between the kingdoms of her husband and parents.
Coningham and his colleagues feel the open space in the centre of the most ancient, timber shrine may have accommodated a tree.
Brick temples built later also were arranged around the central space, which was unroofed.
To determine the dates of the timber shrine and a previously unknown early brick structure above it, fragments of charcoal and grains of sand were tested using a combination of radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence techniques.
Geo-archaeological research has confirmed the presence of ancient tree roots within the temple’s central void.
The international team, led by Coningham and Kosh Prasad Acharya, one of Nepal’s top archaeologists, say the discovery contributes to a greater understanding of the early development! of Buddhism — and the spiritual importance of Lumbini.
The archaeological investigation was funded by the Japanese government in partnership with Nepal under a UNESCO project aimed at strengthening the conservation and management of Lumbini.
The research was also supported by Durham and Stirling Universities in Britain and the National Geographic Society’s Global Exploration Fund.
“UNESCO is very proud to be associated with this important discovery at one of the most holy places for one of the world’s oldest religions,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.
“These discoveries are very important to better understand the birthplace of Buddha,” said Ram Kumar Shrestha, Nepal’s minister for culture, tourism and civil aviation.
“Nepal will spare no effort to preserve this significant site.”
Lumbini is one of the key sites associated with the life of the Buddha. The others include Bodh Gaya in India where he attained enlightenmen! t, and Sarnath, also in India where he first preached.
Lost and ! overgrown in the jungles of Nepal in the medieval period, ancient Lumbini was rediscovered in 1896 and identified as the birthplace of the Buddha on account of a third century B.C. sandstone pillar.