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Earliest 'shrine' uncovered at Buddha's birthplace

26 November 2013 03:09 am - 19     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Archaeologists digging at Buddha's birthplace have uncovered remains of the earliest ever "Buddhist shrine". They unearthed a 6th Century BC timber structure buried within the Maya Devi Temple at Lumbini in Nepal.

The shrine appears to have housed a tree. This links to the Buddha nativity story - his mother gave birth to him while holding on to a tree branch.

Its discovery may settle the dispute over the birth date of the Buddha, they report in the journal Antiquity.

Every year thousands of Buddhists make a holy pilgrimage to Lumbini - long identified as the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha.

Yet despite the many texts chronicling his life and teachings, it is still uncertain when he lived.

Estimates for his birth stretch as far back as 623 BC, but many scholars believed 390-340 BC a more realistic timeframe.

Until now, the earliest evidence of Buddhist structures at Lumbini dated no earlier than the 3rd Century BC, in the era of the emperor Ashoka.

To investigate, archaeologists began excavating at the heart of the temple - alongside meditating monks, nuns and pilgrims.

They unearthed a wooden structure with a central void which had no roof. Brick temples built later above the timber were also arranged around this central space.

To date the buildings, fragments of charcoal and grains of sand were tested using a combination of radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence techniques.

"Now, for the first time, we have an archaeological sequence at Lumbini that shows a building there as early as the 6th century BC," said archaeologist Prof Robin Coningham of Durham University, who co-led the international team, supported by the National Geographic Society.

"This is the earliest evidence of a Buddhist shrine anywhere in the world.

"It sheds light on a very long debate, which has led to differences in teachings and traditions of Buddhism.

"The narrative of Lumbini's establishment as a pilgrimage site under Ashokan patronage must be modified since it is clear that the site had already undergone embellishment for centuries."

The dig also detected signs of ancient tree roots in the wooden building's central void - suggesting it was a tree shrine.

Tradition records that Queen Maya Devi gave birth to the Buddha while grasping the branch of a tree within the Lumbini Garden.

The discovery could aid conservation efforts at the holy site - which has been neglected despite its Unesco World Heritage status.

"These discoveries are very important to better understand the birthplace of the Buddha," said Ram Kumar Shrestha, Nepal's minister of culture, tourism and civil aviation.

"The government of Nepal will spare no effort to preserve this significant site." (Source: BBC)


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  Comments - 19

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  • Pasel Tuesday, 26 November 2013 05:17 PM

    Yes Sukumar
    What did they ask you and what did you write and why did you mention that names
    First you correct your self then society will correct them shelf

    Nims Tuesday, 26 November 2013 06:28 AM

    This is a very polite request to everyone reading this news article. Please do not make any feedbacks comments that could insult one of the greatest religions in the World. Thank you

    neil Tuesday, 26 November 2013 07:09 AM

    Agreed 100% . triple Gem bless you

    Sukumar Tuesday, 26 November 2013 07:14 AM

    Yes please. Specially from pro-LTTE, anti-Sri Lanka elements.

    Belisol Tuesday, 26 November 2013 12:41 PM

    First of all no one can insult Buddha, Jesus or Allah because they don't get offended. It is only some of their fanatic followers who get offended.
    Secondly none of these religious figures asked us to worship their relics or shrines, all they asked is to follow their teachings.

    මධුක Tuesday, 26 November 2013 12:46 PM

    ඒ අමා නිවන් සුව බොහෝ දුර නොවෙවා!
    ඔබ සැමට තෙරුවන් සරණයි...

    rajeev s kumar Tuesday, 26 November 2013 12:47 PM

    lord Buddha is inspiration to mankind, his teachings will remains till the last day of our world.

    Shehan Tuesday, 26 November 2013 08:40 AM

    Buddha is the real miracle of Asia..No one can replace

    Gamarala Tuesday, 26 November 2013 08:56 PM

    Buddha was an important historical figure. He was the most influential figure in Asia. Thanks to western archeologists that so much of Asia'a great past has been uncovered.

    lairef Tuesday, 26 November 2013 09:33 AM

    We respect great leaders and philosophers came to this world. Their influence has done lot to worlds's heritage and civilization.

    Grumpy Tuesday, 26 November 2013 02:10 PM

    Mate, Buddhism is NOT a religion....

    Chugum Tuesday, 26 November 2013 02:26 PM

    The research was co-lead by the British. Funny MR or any one from Sri Lanka was part of the team. Waiting for comments from "so called patriots" to my comment.

    DurhamStudent Tuesday, 26 November 2013 02:53 PM

    Glad to hear this news as a Buddhist and humbly proud to be a Sri Lankan student in Durham University.

    May all beings be happy!

    Piyumi Tuesday, 26 November 2013 03:26 PM

    This is a classic eye opener for those Buddhists who do not respect their religion and living hypocritical lives believing they are immortal, in case if they happen to die unexpectedly they believe that they will take everything they have amassed during life time and never think of retribution will follow you!!!!!

    james bond Wednesday, 27 November 2013 07:37 AM

    what is important for these now ???.there are no buddhist left now.all who call buddhuists are meat eaters,violence creaters,alcohol drinkers,womanisers,gamblers,killers,criminals etc.why not some real true buddhists,try to give rebirth to the presently dead buddhism a new life ???.

    lankafta Tuesday, 26 November 2013 03:30 PM

    So our buddhist calendar was correct all this time.

    Sammy Tuesday, 26 November 2013 03:35 PM

    Do not make negative comments on any religion as the essence of every religion preaches goodness and is great for its followers.

    Sammy Tuesday, 26 November 2013 03:39 PM

    @ What has the statement "pro=LTTE, anti-Sri Lanka" statement got to do with this. Aren't you the one who is instigating negativity by this statement. Let's keep all that out of this.

    punchi Tuesday, 26 November 2013 04:06 PM

    All Gods belief is Buddhism, people are clouded to see it


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