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Jean M
12-01-2013, 05:16 PM
This month's Antiquity has an interesting article that may go some way towards clearing up the confusion over the dates of Buddha's life.
http://antiquity.ac.uk/ant/087/ant0871104.htm

R.A.E. Coningham, K.P. Acharya et asl., The earliest Buddhist shrine: excavating the birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini (Nepal), Antiquity, Volume: 87 Number: 338 Page: 11041123.


Key locations identified with the lives of important religious founders have often been extensively remodelled in later periods, entraining the destruction of many of the earlier remains. Recent UNESCO-sponsored work at the major Buddhist centre of Lumbini in Nepal has sought to overcome these limitations, providing direct archaeological evidence of the nature of an early Buddhist shrine and a secure chronology. The excavations revealed a sequence of early structures preceding the major rebuilding by Asoka during the third century BC. The sequence of durable brick architecture supplanting non-durable timber was foreseen by British prehistorian Stuart Piggott when he was stationed in India over 70 years ago. Lumbini provides a rare and valuable insight into the structure and character of the earliest Buddhist shrines.

It is behind a paywall, but here is a snippet:


Not only was there evidence of permanent constructions older than the Asokan temple but the presence of non-durable architecture had also been
identified. Radiocarbon samples from two contemporary posthole fills ... provided dates of 799546 BC and 801548 BC.., suggesting an extremely
early delineation of sacred space within this locality, and pushing activity at Lumbini far before the reign of Asoka... If the postholes at Lumbini are indicative
of a tree shrine, ritual activity could have commenced either during or shortly after the life of the Buddha. The dates of the postholes would hence provide the first archaeological evidence for the date of the Buddha..

Jean M
12-01-2013, 05:18 PM
The BBC covered the story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25088960


Archaeologists digging at 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 the Buddha nativity story - his mother gave birth to him while holding on to a tree branch. Its discovery may settle the dispute over the birth date of the Buddha, the team reports in the journal Antiquity.

Jean M
12-01-2013, 05:20 PM
The National Geographic's report: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/11/131125-buddha-birth-nepal-archaeology-science-lumbini-religion-history/

Oldest Buddhist Shrine Uncovered In Nepal May Push Back the Buddha's Birth Date: Excavations uncover a shrine dating to the sixth century B.C.


Time to push back the Buddha's birth date a century or so? Archaeologists may have uncovered evidence of the oldest Buddhist shrine yet discovered, dating to around 550 B.C. Located at Nepal's Lumbini pilgrimage center, the legendary site of the Buddha's birth, the discovery points to the renowned religious figure living more than a century earlier than dates accepted by many scholars....

Scholarly Caution

"The new evidence from this project shows that this ritual activity was taking place centuries prior to the Asokan levels and this is really significant and interesting," Young says.

Julia Shaw, a lecturer in South Asian archaeology at University College London, called the claims for a wooden railing surrounding a possible tree shrine convincing but speculative. She was cautious about the oldest Buddhist shrine claim.

"The worship of trees, often at simple altars, was a ubiquitous feature of ancient Indian religions, and given the degree of overlap between Buddhist ritual and pre-existing traditions, it is also possible that what is being described represents an older tree shrine quite disconnected from the worship of the historical Buddha," Shaw says.

parasar
12-02-2013, 12:20 AM
This month's Antiquity has an interesting article that may go some way towards clearing up the confusion over the dates of Buddha's life.
http://antiquity.ac.uk/ant/087/ant0871104.htm

R.A.E. Coningham, K.P. Acharya et asl., The earliest Buddhist shrine: excavating the birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini (Nepal), Antiquity, Volume: 87 Number: 338 Page: 11041123.



It is behind a paywall, but here is a snippet:


Not only was there evidence of permanent constructions older than the Asokan temple but the presence of non-durable architecture had also been
identified. Radiocarbon samples from two contemporary posthole fills ... provided dates of 799546 BC and 801548 BC.., suggesting an extremely
early delineation of sacred space within this locality, and pushing activity at Lumbini far before the reign of Asoka... If the postholes at Lumbini are indicative
of a tree shrine, ritual activity could have commenced either during or shortly after the life of the Buddha. The dates of the postholes would hence provide the first archaeological evidence for the date of the Buddha..



Those post-holes must have been similar to what I had mentioned in another thread:

That is true in general today, but that was not the case until even very recently. Children in our area were directly buried and quite often the ash of the cremated was placed in an urn and buried with some special possession and a tree planted over or a pillar placed (called laTh in our area). There are ancient burial mounds all over and later took the elaborate form of the Stupa.
https://www.shambhalamountain.org/great-stupa/history-of-stupas/

Prior to the monumental Stupas, the mounds were of this form:
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-kCUf5J4zvjI/UYZR9TvgFMI/AAAAAAAACP4/j1GIulmhTp0/s640/IMGP1055.JPG
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ZZ8dJ2fI6ps/UYZRarFjd2I/AAAAAAAACOU/GBEX9fy5E4Y/s640/1.jpg
http://silentpagesindia.blogspot.com/2013/05/lauriya-nandangarh-champaran-bihar-site.html