Author Topic: New archaeological research from Nepal  (Read 794 times)

Offline Dharmakara

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New archaeological research from Nepal
« on: November 26, 2013, 09:16:26 pm »
Is it time to push back the Buddha's birth date a century or so? Archaeologists in Nepal say they have discovered traces of a wooden structure dating from the sixth century B.C. that they believe is the world’s oldest Buddhist shrine.

I'm not sure how (or why) the discovery of an older timber structure under existing brick temples proves anything, other than that another structure once existed there, but apparently they've also discovered tree roots at that level dating to the same period, giving credence to the story that his mother (Maya) had given birth while holding on to the branch of a tree in Lumbini Garden.

Professor Robin Coningham, lead researcher from Durham University’s Archaeology Department, explained: “Very little is known about the life of the Buddha except through textual sources and oral tradition. Some scholars have maintained that the Buddha was born in the 3rd century B.C.”

Dating of the timber structure was conducted using radiation measurement techniques --- charcoal fragments and grains of sand were tested using radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence techniques. Needless to say, trying to date something in such fashion isn't an exact science, not to mention that there's quite a few examples of Buddhist shrines being built over pre-exisiting structures that were originally unrelated to the tradition itself.

Also, Lumbini isn't the only location that's been identified as the Buddha’s birthplace --- others believe he was born in Odisha, India.

The archaeological study itself was funded by the governments of Japan and Nepal, as well as supported by the National Geographic Society and Stirling University, so as time goes by there's certainly going to be more research into this, but you can read more about this latest discovery here:

http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=4,11686,0,0,1,0
« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 09:38:26 pm by Dharmakara, Reason: grammar »

Offline dhammaseeker51

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Re: New archaeological research from Nepal
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2013, 05:57:30 am »
Interesting article, but I don't see how the discovery of tree roots adds credence to what is surely a myth.
I can maybe accept that Maya gave birth while holding onto a tree, but don't ask me to accept that baby Gotama was born from her side or that he immediately took seven paces to the north etc and proclaimed his credentials as the Buddha.
Unless they find his convoluted baby footprints.. :teehee:

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: New archaeological research from Nepal
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2013, 10:13:37 am »
You're not alone in that opinion  --- actually, if it wasn't for the fact that the National Geographic Society is involved, I would have dismissed the article as nothing more than an attempt to boost tourism, a well known priorty of the Nepal government itself.

Offline NepalianBuddhist

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Re: New archaeological research from Nepal
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2013, 01:58:19 pm »
Or there may have been multiple Buddhas. Or was there only one Buddha Siddhartha Gautama? ...

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: New archaeological research from Nepal
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2013, 02:33:41 pm »
There's actually various opinions on this, whether the Pali Canon possibly reflects the teachings of more than a single "World Honored One", a common epitaph of the time, or whether the Buddha is a composite of several teachers, but the majority of Buddhists have confidence in the canonical sources and recognize only one Siddhartha Gautama.

As a side note, there have been a few Jains over the years who also believed that the Buddha and Indrabhuti Gautama were one and the same --- he was the "ganadhara" who continued teaching after Mahavira's passing:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indrabhuti_Gautama

When all is said and done, we'll probably never know for sure.

 


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