‘Exciting’ Discovery At Buddha’s Birthplace
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 26, 2013
After a three-year dig, archaeologists may have found the Buddha’s exact birthplace and more details about when he was born.
The Buddha may have lived centuries later than some historians have suggested, a dig at his birthplace has revealed.
Archaeologists made the discovery during excavations of an ancient shrine at the Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini, Nepal.
The Unesco world heritage site has long been identified as the birthplace of the Buddha but the dig has revealed artefacts that pinpoint his life to a specific century for the first time.
As well as narrowing down his birthday, archaeologists believe they may also have located his exact birthplace.
His mother, Queen Maya Devi, is thought to have given birth while holding on to the branch of a tree in the Lumbini garden, midway between the kingdoms of her husband and parents.
It is thought the tree may have been situated in an open space at the centre of the newly-excavated shrine.
Professor Robin Coningham, of Durham University, led a team of 15 British historians who had to go barefoot or wear slippers during the excavation because shoes are forbidden in the sacred temple.
“(This) is one of the most exciting discoveries in terms of Buddhist archaeology since the early discoveries of the sites because we now have an idea of what the earliest Buddhist shrine looked like,” he said.
“The significance for us is that the shrine is built around a tree and the fact that the Buddhist birth story is connected with a tree.
“It is one of those really rare occasions when belief, tradition, archaeology and excavation actually come together.”
Experts have disagreed on precisely when the Buddha was born, placing the date anywhere between the early 400s BC and up to three centuries earlier.
The archaeologists, who spent three winters at the site, digging only when the water table was at its lowest, now believe he lived during the sixth century BC.
Buddhism is based largely on the teachings of the Buddha, or Siddhartha Gautama, and is one of the world’s oldest religions.
Many hundreds of thousands of Buddhists from around the world make the pilgrimage to Lumbini every year.