Archaeology, a magazine of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), has featured the discovery of a structure dating back to the sixth century B.C. at Lumbini and linked with the life of Gautam Buddha, as among the world´s top 10 discoveries of 2014.
AIA is a reputed nonprofit organizaiton established in 1879 for the preservation and promotion of archaelogical sites in the world.
Archaeologists working on excavations within the sacred Maya Devi Temple at Lumbini, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on November 25, 2014 uncovered a timber structure dating back to the sixth century B.C., under a series of brick temples.
Issuing a press release on Friday, Christian Manhart, UNESCO Representative to Nepal, stated that “UNESCO is proud to be associated with the important discovery in Lumbini which has been featured among the top ten discoveries of 2014”.
An international team of archaeologists, led by Professor Robin Coningham of Durham University, UK and Kosh Prasad Acharya, senior archaeologist at the Department of Archaeology, had carried out the excavations.
Manhart further said that the discovery of the timber structure not only provides some of the earliest evidence for Buddhist monuments but also helps inform the debate as to when Buddha lived and the social and economic context in which he lived.
According to the archaeologists, the uncovered timber structure contains an open space in the center that can be linked to the nativity story of the Buddha. They presume that the open space in the center of the timber shrine may have accommodated a tree. And the brick temples built later above the timber structure were also arranged around the central space, which was open to the sky.
Various Buddhist scriptures have it that Queen Maya Devi, mother of the Buddha, gave birth to him while holding on to the branch of a tree at the Lumbini gardens, midway between the kingdoms of her husband and her parents. This is the first archaeological material discovered at the temple, that is linked to the life period of the Buddha.
Many archeologists believe it helps clear the misconception that Buddha was born in India. The excavation project was funded by the Government of Japan and UNESCO and implemented with the help of the Department of Archaeology and the Lumbini Development Trust.
The Mayadevi Temple at Lumbini remains a living shrine and is visited by Buddhist from all over the world. The team is now currently working together with the Government of Nepal at Tilaurakot, one of the sites identified as ancient Kapilavastu, where the Buddha lived until the age of 29.