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A documentary on the project, "Buried Secrets of the Buddha," will premiere in February on National Geographic Channel.

Determining Buddha's birthdate Previous evidence of Buddhist structures at Lumbini went only as far back as the third century B. Scholars have cited various dates for Buddha's birth, ranging from the third to the eighth century B. In Nepalese tradition, the most widely accepted date is 623 B. The freshly found evidence is consistent with that time frame, and that should help experts flesh out the historical background for Buddha, who was born as Siddhartha Gautama.

Archeologists have unearthed a Buddhist shrine in Nepal that puts Buddha’s birth in the sixth-century BC, at least a hundred years earlier than most scholars have in recent years plotted the date.

The find, sure to be controversial, is the first material archeological evidence to support assigning Buddha’s life to a particular century.

C." The team of researchers, led by Coningham and Kosh Prasad Acharya of the Pashupati Area Development Trust in Nepal, published their findings Monday in the journal Antiquity.

"This is one of those rare occasions when belief, traditions, archaeology and science come together," Coningham said.

"We thought, 'Why not go back to archaeology to try to answer some of the questions about his birth?

' Now, for the first time, we have an archaeological sequence at Lumbini that shows a building there as early as the sixth century B.

The report will be published in the December issue of the journal Antiquity and broadcast as a National Geographic documentary this winter.

The timber shrine was found under newer, but also hidden, brick temples near the Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini, Nepal, at the toes of the Himalayas.

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Durham University archaeologist Robin Coningham emerges from the dig at the Lumbini Village Mound in Nepal, where a secular settlement contemporary with the earliest temple was discovered.

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