The earliest Buddhist shrine: excavating the birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini (Nepal) Academic Article uri icon


  • 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.


  • Coningham, RAE
  • Acharya, KP
  • Strickland, KM
  • Davis, CE
  • Manuel, MJ
  • Simpson, IA
  • Gilliland, K
  • Tremblay, J
  • Kinnaird, TC
  • Sanderson, DCW

publication date

  • December 2013