31.01.2013 - UNESCO Office in Kathmandu

Archaeological survey continues in Lumbini

The third season of archaeological investigations that is presently taking place in Lumbini, birthplace of Buddha, is likely to discover new findings of early historical development, before the Asokan period (third century BCE).

The team of international archaeologists from Durham University, UK, working together with experts from the Department of Archaeology and the Lumbini Development Trust is led by Robin Coningham, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Archaeology at Durham University and Kosh Prasad Archarya, one of Nepal’s top archaeologists.

The archaeologists are focusing this season on the evaluation and interpretation of three main areas of Lumbini: the Mayadevi Temple, the eastern monasteries of the Sacred Garden and other two unsurveyed areas of the Sacred Garden in the South.

The team began investigating the early nature of the Mayadevi Temple in 2011. Excavations of the first two seasons in the Mayadevi Temple have already demonstrated that an important shrine existed before Asoka constructed a brick shrine. During their third season, in January 2013, the archaeologists continue to investigate its character and sequence of development in order to record the earliest levels in the temple, which then can be assessed to preserve them for the future.

In addition to investigating inside the Mayadevi Temple, the team opened an evaluation trench in the eastern monastic remains inside the Sacred Garden in order to understand the character and developmental sequence of these structures and their relation to the other monuments.

The second season identified early occupation in the Lumbini Village, southwest of the Mayadevi Temple, South Asia’s earliest named village, Lumbini game as named on the Asoka Pillar. The team this season will continue to excavate and survey other unsurveyed areas of the Sacred Garden in the South, in order to investigate the character and sequence of development, so that appropriate placing of pilgrim facilities may be made without damaging important archaeological resources.

The team will continue mapping the site, integrating the data from previous two seasons. A focus will be on integrating the archaeological data with modern features, as well as the broader topographical model in order to aid site management.

Additionally, a visitor and pilgrim survey is being carried out to collect detailed information related to visitor and pilgrim activities within the Sacred Garden.  

The archaeological endeavour is part of a larger project entitled “Strengthening the Conservation and Management of Lumbini, the Birthplace of Lord Buddha”, launched in 2010. The project is funded by the Government of Japan through the Japanese-Funds-in-Trust for the Preservation of the World’s Cultural Heritage, and co-ordinated by the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu.


Further information on the Lumbini preservation project, please access:


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