Buddhism and archaeology in Nepal


This video from Nepal says about itself:

Oldest Shrine Found Near Buddha’s Birthplace unearthed in Lumbini 26-11-2013

Earliest ever Buddhist Shrine unearthed in Lumbini

Archaeologists digging at Lord 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 accounts in Buddhist chronicles where his mother gave birth while holding on to a tree branch. This is the earliest evidence of a Buddhist shrine anywhere in the world. Tradition records that Queen Maha Maya gave birth to the Buddha while grasping the branch of a tree within the Lumbini Garden.

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

By K. Kris Hirst in the USA:

Archaeology and the Buddha

December 8, 2013

December 8th is the traditional date for Bodhi Day, when the historical Buddha Siddartha Gautama is said to have reached enlightenment: when better to speak of the enlightening effects of archaeology?

Several recent archaeological studies associated with the life of the Buddha have been conducted, most recently excavations at Lumbini in Nepal, said to have been his birthplace. The oldest phase of the Maya Devi shrine at Lumbini is securely dated between 550-800 BC, making it the earliest shrine associated with the Buddha to date.

Coningham RAE, Acharya KP, Strickland KM, Davis CE, Manuel MJ, Simpson IA, Gilliland K, Tremblay J, Kinnaird TC, and Sanderson DCW. 2013. The earliest Buddhist shrine: excavating the birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini (Nepal). Antiquity 87(338):1104-1123.

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