Oldest Buddhist Shrine Uncovered

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The discovery of the shrine pushes back Buddha’s birth date, writes Dan Vergano of National Geographic.

The site is located at Lumbini, inside the sacred Mayadevi temple, the legendary site of Buddha’s birth in what is now Nepal.

Archaeologist Robin Coningham of the United Kingdom’s Durham University, is exited being on site of what is the earliest known Buddhist shrine in the world. “Very little is known about the life of the Buddha, except through textual sources and oral tradition. Now, for the first time, we have an archaeological sequence at Lumbini that shows a building there as early as the sixth century BC.”

The archaeologists were digging beneath a central shrine and found postholes pointing to a wooden railing surrounding a tree shrine, and mineralised tree roots, possibly being an ancient bodhigara.

By tradition, Lumbini is the garden site where Buddha’s mother, Maya Devi, grasped a tree and gave birth to the historical figure Siddhartha Gautama, who later became the Buddha.


Kosh Prasad Acharya, who worked with archaeologists from Durham University, said the traces had been date-tested using radiocarbon and luminescence techniques. The archaeological team dug underneath previously known brick structures in the temple, and experts from the University of Stirling examined and collected the samples, he said. The team has been working at the site for the past three years.


Article in National Geographic: Oldest Buddhist Shrine Uncovered In Nepal May Push Back the Buddha’s Birth Date

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