Monday, January 17, 2011

Birthplace of Gautam Buddha archaeological survey begins in Nepal

An international team of archaeologists has begun a three-year survey of the archaeological vestiges in Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, in southern Nepal.

According to Wednesday's The Himalayan Times, the team, which also includes experts from the Department of Archaeology and the Lumbini Development Trust, is working under the leadership of Robin Coningham, Vice Chancellor and Professor of Archaeology at Durham University, Britain.

According to United Nations Educational, Scientific,and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Nepal, the panel will work to identify the locations of archaeological remains below the surface so that development of facilities for pilgrims does not damage valuable archaeological resources.

"There is also a pressing need to prepare a plan for the area immediately outside the levee of the sacred garden to ensure that other development work within the master plan for the management of Lumbini are implemented in a way compatible to the World Heritage Site," read a UNESCO press release issued Tuesday.

According to the UN body, the archaeological endeavour is part of a larger project - Strengthening the Conservation and Management of Lumbini, the Birthplace of Lord Buddha - launched in 2010 to address the issues and challenges facing the World Heritage Site.

The project focuses on five components namely evaluation and interpretation of the Lumbini's archaeological signature, conservation of the Ashoka Pillar, the Marker Stone and the Nativity Sculpture, review of the state of the sacred garden with respect to the Kenzo Tange's Master Plan, establishment of an integrated management process to preserve Lumbini's universal value in the long run, and improvement of knowledge and skills of local experts.

Lumbini Development Project Chief Basanta Bidari was quoted by the daily as saying the project was a wonderful opportunity to develop capacity of local professionals in discovering the details of Buddha's birth by employing advances made in archaeology.

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