January 10- A team of archaeologists from Nepal’s Department of Archaeology (DoA), the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) and Durham University’s UNESCO Chair, has resumed excavations at Tilaurakot-Kapilavastu, the capital of the ancient Shakya Kingdom where Lord Buddha lived his first twenty-nine years as Prince Siddhartha Gautama On 7 January .
The project funded by the Government of Japan includes excavations at the northern wall of the Central Walled Complex, the Central Pond, the Samai Mai Shrine and the Eastern Stupa to better understand the morphology and chronology of the historic city. This will be accompanied by a campaign of conservation and presentation of the archaeological remains. These activities are partially funded through the personal generosity of Dr Kasai of Lumbini Hotel Kasai.
A survey of visitors to the site will also be carried out in order to understand how they move around the complex in advance of the completion of walkways and the placing of information boards. Visitors will be interviewed to assess their potential selection of souvenirs, both locally and externally sourced handicrafts, in order to guide future marketing plans at the site.
Capacity strengthening of the archaeologists from Nepal – DoA and LDT, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, and students from the Tribhuvan University, is a part of the project. Participants from other South Asian countries are supported by the Oriental Cultural Heritage Sites Protection Alliance.
Christian Manhart, UNESCO Representative to Nepal stated, “UNESCO is proud to initiate this important project. These archaeological investigations not only provide new fascinating insights into ancient life of Tilaurakot but also illustrate the need to protect and preserve the heritage of this significant site.”
Damodar Gautam, acting Director-General of DoA said, “The project is successfully mobilising national and international experts who will strengthen the capacity of the DoA officers and provide invaluable field training to the next generation of Nepali archaeologists, currently students at the Tribhuvan University.”
The Vice-Chairman of the LTD, Venerable Metteyya Sakyaputta said, “The excavations will help find more details about the historical city of Tilaurakot and new discoveries will support the preparation of the site’s nomination dossier for UNESCO World Heritage inscription.”
Durham University’s UNESCO Chair, Professor Robin Coningham acknowledged “The ambitious nature of the programme of heritage development supported by the Japanese Government provide us with the ideal research platform to prepare an exemplar for the protection, preservation, and presentation of South Asia’s living heritage.”