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Archeologists Think They’ve Unearthed the Buddha’s Nativity Site

Legend has it that the Buddha's mother, Queen Maya Devi, birthed her son at Lumbini while clutching the branch of a tree at that temple's garden

Lumbini in Nepal, identified as the Buddha’s birthplace. Photo: Kushal Kafle

Archeologists working at the Lumbini temple in Nepal, the place long credited as the birth site of the Buddha, just uncovered the remains of what they think is the Buddha’s original nativity scene, dating back to the 6th century B.C. The ancient temple’s remains predate other archeological evidence from that site by some 300 years.

The ancient structure, which was composted of timber and brick, closely matches descriptions of the place where the Buddha was born. Legend has it that the Buddha’s mother, Queen Maya Devi, birthed her son at Lumbini while clutching the branch of a tree at that temple’s garden. The remains of the site that the archeologists have uncovered to indeed feature an open area where such a tree may have stood, and geologists found evidence that the roots of a tree once grew in that space. This lead the team to speculate that they may have uncovered artifacts directly tied to life of the Buddha himself.

They used radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the site through charcoal and sand found at the site. While the archaeologists were working, nuns and monks continuously meditated around the research site. The temple is home to Buddhist practitioners and attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year.

You can learn more about the findings in this National Geographic video:

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