Archaeologists Discover Earliest Buddhist Shrine

A wooden structure dating back as early as 6th Century B.C.

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Archaeologists have unearthed what they believe to be the earliest shrine to Buddha ever constructed, while digging in a temple in Nepal.

A group of archeologists discovered a wooden structure dating back to as early as the 6th Century B.C., beneath the Maya Devi Temple at Lumbini in Nepal, according to the journal Antiquity. The shrine is believed to contain a tree, which references the Buddha’s birth. The story describes Queen Maya Devi giving birth to the Buddha while holding onto a tree branch.

“This is the earliest evidence of a Buddhist shrine anywhere in the world,” said archaeologist Robin Coningham of Durham University, who co-led the team.

Backed by the National Geographic Society, the excavation was commissioned  to support claims that the location was the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, who became Buddha. Researchers tested pieces of charcoal and grains of sand to determine a date.