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article imageNew evidence said to pinpoint the birth date of Buddha

By Karen Graham     Nov 25, 2013 in Science
Kathmandu - Historians have always been uncertain as to the actual date of Buddha's birth, though most put the date at 563 BCE. Additionally, there has been no written records dating to that time period or the Buddha's life and teachings.
While it is not disputed that Buddha lived and was a great sage and teacher, most of what the world knows about him has come down through oral tradition and textual sources. There have been no texts found referencing his actual birth, with the earliest writings occurring 400 years after his death.
It has always been the assumption that Buddha was born at a site called the Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini, Nepal. The temple is a World Heritage site now, and is undergoing reconstruction to make it into a pilgrimage center, commemorating the site as a focal point for adherents for years to come.
Archaeologists, excavating at the shrine have unearthed a Buddha shrine that pinpoints the birth of Buddha at 100 years earlier than was first thought by most scholars. What is particularly exciting is that this is the first material evidence to be found dating the birth to a specific century.
The timber structure was found under an area where newer brick temples had been erected near the Maya Devi temple. The Maya Devi temple is thought to be the site of a garden where Buddhas mother gave birth to the future sage. A pillar erected at the site by Mauryan Emperor Asoka, dated at 249 BC, tells the story of the birth.
The Asokan pillar at Lumbini  where Gautama Buddha was born (current Nepal).
The Asokan pillar at Lumbini, where Gautama Buddha was born (current Nepal).
Researchers used several techniques to study the artifacts, including carbon-dating. The timbers dated to the 6th century BC, and ancient tree roots lend credence to the story of Buddha's mother clutching the branch of a tree while giving birth to him.
The international team of archaeologists, led by Professor Robin Coningham of Durham University, U.K. and Kosh Prasad Acharya of the Pashupati Area Development Trust in Nepal, say the discovery will lead to a better understanding of the earlier development of Buddhism as well as the spiritual importance of Lumbini.
The findings of the team are being reported in the December 2013 issue of Antiquity.
The research at the site was partly funded by National Geographic, and will be featured in a February 2014 documentary called "Buried Secrets of the Buddha," on the National Geographic Channel.
More about Buddha, birth date, Archaeological, Evidence, World Heritage Site
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