Lumbini, UNESCO World Heritage Site: Reinvestigating the Birthplace of the Buddha

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Antiquity, 87, p. 1104-1123.

Tim’s contribution to this project involved the construction of the cultural and natural sediment chronologies at the Lumbini UNESCO World Heritage Temple Site, the Birthplace of Lord Buddha, and at Tilaurokot, the childhood home of the Buddha. The implications of this work are of major international significance, testing the Long and Short Chronologies for the Buddha and in determining the origins of a major world religion. Phase 1 of this project, conducted as part of a broader project called Strengthening the Conservation and Management of Lumbini; the Birthplace of Lord Buddha is now complete, and publications are pending. The 2nd phase of the project is still ongoing. Our research has influenced strategy related to the the long-term management and preservation of the UNESCO World Heritage site, which is increasingly important to the sustainable economic development of the region, particularly in light of the Asian Development Bank’s ambition to develop Lumbini and the surrounding archaeological vestiges as a major tourist and pilgrimage destinations.
In the featured publication, ‘The Earliest Buddhist Shrine: Excavating the Birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini (Nepal)’, evidence is presented for the existence of the oldest Buddist Shrine yet discovered, dating to around 550BC, at Nepal’s Lumbini World Heritage centre. This discovery points to the renowned religious figure living more than a century earlier than the dates accepted by many authors. The exact date of the Buddha’s birth is disputed, with Nepalese authorities favoring 623 BC, and other traditions favoring more recent dates, around 400 BC. Regardless, by 249 BC Lumbini had became one of the four sacred centers of Buddhism, marked by sanctifying inscriptions and a pillar left there in 249 B.C. by the Indian emperor Ashoka, who helped spread Buddhism across Asia.

Read more in National Geographic. Oldest Buddhist Shrine Uncovered In Nepal May Push Back the Buddha’s Birth Date

"Maya Devi Lumbini" by Wes Olson - Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons.
Maya Devi Lumbini” by Wes Olson – Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons.

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