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.

Butterflies, damselflies, abandoned church in Italy


Dragonfly couple, Italy, 17 September 2013

17 September 2013. Still in Liguria, Italy, shortly before arrival in the abandoned village Bussare. Two damselflies of the Lestidae family making a heart-shaped figure for mating.

Bussare, Italy, path, 17 September 2013

We arrive at Bussare. The streets still have names. In the middle is a small square, with a sign Piazza Cavour, honouring a nineteenth century politician. However, now, in the twenty-first century, I don’t see any human living here.

Silver-washed fritillary, Bussare, Italy, 17 September 2013

However, I do see butterflies. Like a male silver-washed fritillary butterfly.

Bussare, Italy, church, 17 September 2013

The Roman Catholic church building’s name, “Immaculate Conception“, is still there. Now, however, accompanied by another sign: “For sale”.

Bussare, Italy, church name, 17 September 2013

We walk back, past Bussare. On a blackberry bush, another beautiful butterfly, one of the biggest species in Europe: a two-tailed pasha.

Two-tailed pasha, Italy, 17 September 2013

We go back to the bridge. Now, a hummingbird hawk-moth feeding at the butterfly-bush.

Will there be lizards, or snakes, near the old tyre? Not this time.

Bevera river, 17 September 2013

Further, in the river: trout and pondskaters.

On the footpath: a male pheasant.

Lizards, moths and butterflies in Italy


Young wall lizard near flower pot, Italy, 15 September 2013

After 14 September in Liguria, Italy, today 15 September. With a young wall lizard next to a flower pot.

Grasshopper, Italy, 15 September 2013

A grasshopper along the path.

Butterflies along the irrigation canal.

A dung beetle rolls a ball of dung across the path.

A big lizard disappears quickly into a hole in a wall.

We reach a hilltop above the cemetery of Olivetta village.

Six-spot burnet moth, Italy, 15 September 2013

A six-spot burnet moth on grass.

Hilltop view, Italy, 15 September 2013

We look around, at other hills and mountains.

Ciantri, Italy, 15 September 2013

We go downhill. Below us, Ciantri hamlet.

Torre village, Italy, 15 September 2013

To the other side, Torre village.

As we go down, on a yellow flower, a grasshopper.

River clubtail, Italy, 15 September 2013

A bit further, a female red-veined darter dragonfly.

Common blue, Italy, 15 September 2013

A common blue butterfly on a grass stem.

Then, a hummingbird hawk-moth. Moving too fast to photograph.

Olivetta in the rain, Italy, 15 September 2013

As evening starts to fall, it rains. We see Olivetta village through a curtain of rain.

Lizards, snakes and butterflies in Italy


This video is called Main road from Olivetta San Michele to Bussare (Italy).

After 13 September 2013 in Italy came 14 September.

In the morning, to Olivetta village.

Butterflies, including meadow brown and gatekeeper.

Colourful butterfly, Olivetta, 14 September 2013

And a colourful one [UPDATE: a Jersey tiger moth; see here].

Great tit sound. Buzzard sound.

In the afternoon, we went down the Bevera river valley.

Trout swim in that river. A trout is also in the local coat of arms.

Olivetta San Michele coat of arms, with trout

Near a bridge over the river, butterfly-bush grows. It attracts many butterflies, most of them orange coloured. Including Argynnis paphia (silver-washed fritillaries).

Silver-washed fritillary, 14 September 2013

Near the river bank close to the bridge, an old car tyre. Inside it, a young snake (grass snake?). On top of the tyre, two young wall lizards.

Immaculate conception church tower, Bussare, 14 September 2013

We continue to Bussare village. A village, practically abandoned by people. The Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic church still stands, but there are no services any more. It is for for sale.