Int’l team resumes study on Buddha’s birthplace

Experts will identify if social and economic diversity was present across the city

Kathmandu, January 29

A team of archaeologists from the Department of Archaeology and the Lumbini Development Trust have resumed their research programme with international specialists from Durham University on a UNESCO mission to Tilaurakot, the city where Lord Buddha lived twenty-nine years of his life as prince Siddhartha Gautam.

The archaeological component of the project, ‘Strengthening the Conservation and Management of Lumbini, the Birthplace of Lord Buddha, Phase 2’ is co-directed by Kosh Prasad Acharya, former director general of the DoA and professor Robin Coningham, UNESCO chair in Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage at Durham University in the UK.

The project is being implemented by UNESCO with funds from the Japanese government.

Entering third year of the current project, the team is following up discoveries from previous seasons of investigations.

Archaeological geophysics conducted in 2014 and 2015 revealed a large walled complex at the centre of Tilaurakot.

Encompassing an area of 100 x 100 metres and incorporating many structures, the team has begun to excavate a portion of these features to gain a fuller understanding of their date and character, said a press statement issued by UNESCO Office, Kathmandu.

The team has already uncovered a large brick-built structure as well as its large surrounding compound wall, measuring 1.5 metres wide.

A stretch of 50 meters east to west, incorporating a large gateway has been exposed. Outside this complex, the team is excavating floor surfaces within structures identified in previous field seasons, to gain a fuller understanding of the date and function of these buildings and relate these to other areas of the site.

According to UNWSCO, this will allow experts to identify if social and economic diversity was present across the ancient city. The team is also investigating whether there are additional gates on the east of the city.

During this field season, the final unsurveyed area of the walled city will be completed with archaeological geophysics.

For the first time, the most complete plan of an Early Historic City in South Asia will be unveiled, allowing for the comparison between Tilaurakot’s urban plan and those of ancient town planning treatises.

Whilst focusing on investigations within the city walls, the team is also surveying the fields surrounding Tilaurakot to identify archaeological remains within the immediate agricultural landscape of the city.

This will allow the assessment of areas of archaeological interest, whilst also linking the city to its wider landscape.

The team will also continue to interview local residents and businesses as well as tourists and pilgrims to gain an understanding of who visits the site and assess the social and economic impact of tourism and pilgrimage.

Monitoring movements and use of the site will help the team estimate both the requirements of pilgrims and those of the local population.

The objective is to promote sustainable development while preserving and protecting Tialurakot’s unique cultural heritage.

The team is also undertaking excavations at the nearby site of Kudan.

These excavations will provide first scientific dates of the construction of the temple complex and provide an understanding of the site’s architectural development and potential earlier construction sequences.