Lumbini-Kapilvastu Day Blog

Welcome to Lumbini, Nepal – the birthplace of Buddha

Meet UNESCO Lumbini Excavation Team: Buddha’s Birth Earlier Than Thought (Video)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 5, 2014

Couple of months ago Lumbini excavation news was highlighted a lot in big international media because of new reveal on Buddha’s birth date. Let’s know about the team:

Prof Robin Coningham Durham University, UK

Robin is one of the co-directors of the excavations at Lumbini and one of the international experts on the larger UNESCO project. He has conducted extensive field work in Bangladesh, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and was part of an original UNESCO team that worked at Lumbini in 2001/2. He can normally be found excavating in the Temple, or deep in discussion with his co-director, Kosh.

Mr Kosh Acharya Pashupathi Development Trust/UNESCO, Nepal

Kosh is the other co-director of the excavations at Lumbini, and is an expert on the archaeology of the region. He possesses the wonderful ability to stay calm whilst everyone descends into panic around him, and is the most sartorially elegant member of the team. Kosh, the former Director General of Archaeology in Nepal, has excavated extensively in Nepal, and knows everything that is worth knowing about the archaeology of the Terai.

Dr Mark Manuel Durham University, UK

Mark is a post-doc, and one of the archaeologists working on the project, and looks after much of the day-to-day running of the archaeological project. He can normally be seen at Lumbini running around sorting things out, or drinking tea in the shade. He’s also in charge of mapping the archaeology of the site.

Prof Ian Simpson University of Stirling, UK

Ian is the chief geoarchaeologist on the project, and has the joyous task of discovering what the ancient landscape of Lumbini would have looked like. He is at his happiest when left down a deep, muddy hole wearing his green boiler suit with only a laptop for company.

Dr Keir Strickland Orkney College UHI, UK

Keir first visited Lumbini in 2001/02, when he spent 6 months living on rice, dhal, and kimchi in the South Korean monastery while conducting a UNESCO survey of cultural activity at the site.  A decade later, and now a lecturer in archaeology, he has excavated sites across the UK and South Asia – ranging from Victorian dye-works in the east-end of Glasgow to Buddhist monasteries in Sri Lanka.  At Lumbini he can usually be found at the Village Mound or Nursery Well, to the south of the main site, vainly searching for natural while finding huge quantities of ceramic sherds to keep Jen busy.  Outside of a muddy trench, he loves sunshine, good Scotch, and baseball.  None of these things can be found in Lumbini in January.

Dr Armin Schmidt GeoDataWIZ / Durham University, UK

Another of the original 2001/02 team, Armin is chief geophysicist for the project, and as such has the most technologically advanced and most ridiculous looking job of us all. You can normally find Armin by following the trail of bewildered onlookers as he pushes his radar cart or carries a magnetometer through the fields of Lumbini. Alternatively, he’ll be snoozing under the nearest tree.

Dr Chris Davis Durham University, UK

Chris has recently finished his PhD, and is one of the archaeologists working on the project, focussing on the Maya Devi Temple trenches. He enjoys copious amounts of rice and dhal, washed down with lashings of tea.

Jennifer Tremblay Durham University, UK

Jen is a PhD student and the archaeologist in charge of pottery and artefacts, she spends her working day in the project work room. She can often be seen chasing away inquisitive children, making students wash pottery and count bricks and clearing up everyone else’s mess.

Armineh Marghussian Durham University, UK

Armineh is a PhD student and another of the archaeologists, who works in the Temple and the monasteries. Her favourite activity is straightening the section walls of trenches, and mobilising a workforce to maximum efficiency.


Jo Shoebridge Durham University, UK

Jo is a PhD student and archaeologist working on the project at a variety of different trenches. One of her roles is Chief Procurement Officer, and is in charge of the economic rejuvenation of Lumbini High Street.

Dr Krista Gilliland University of Stirling, UK/Western Heritage, Canada

Krista is a geoarchaeologist, who recently finished her PhD and moved back to Canada. Her main role appears to be making as much noise as possible whilst extracting samples from trenches, and passing food and tea down to Ian while he is working.

Anouk Lafortune-Bernard Durham University, UK

Anouk is a third year undergraduate student at Durham University and is conducting a visitor survey at Lumbini for UNESCO in order to better understand the needs of the pilgrims and tourists. She can be found conspicuously following pilgrims around the Sacred Garden with a clip board.


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