Ancient Lumminigame: A Preliminary Report on Recent Archaeological Investigations at Lumbini's Village Mound



Strickland K, Coningham R, Acharya KP, Schmidt A, Simpson I, Kunwar RB, Tremblay J, Manuel M, Davis C, Bahadur K & Basanta B (2015) Ancient Lumminigame: A Preliminary Report on Recent Archaeological Investigations at Lumbini's Village Mound. Ancient Nepal, (190), pp. 1-17.

First paragraph: Most previous archaeological activities at Lumbini have tended to focus attention on the Maya Devi Temple, Shakya Tank, Asokan Pillar and the structures in their immediate vicinity, paying little attention to the potential presence of archaeological remains beyond. Indeed, P.C. Mukherji only exposed and planned monuments adjacent to the pillar, tank and shrine in the 1890s (1901) and the levelling and construction directed by General Kesher Shumsher J.B. Rana in the 1930s was similarly tightly focused. This continued through to the Indian Co-operation Mission led by Debala Mitra, when she partially exposed the Asokan pillar in 1962 (Mitra 1972). This state of affairs has meant that little consideration has been given to the location of ancient Lumminigame, the village named on the Emperor Asoka's famous pillar of chunar sandstone. Representing the oldest named village in South Asia, in 249 BCE Asoka had famously reduced its tax on account of its association with the birthplace of the Buddha (Allen 2008: 142; Falk 1998: 16). Despite its historic importance, it was not until 1970 that the first research surveys and excavations were undertaken to locate and date its sequence. These endeavours were directed by N.R. Banerjee and B.K. Rijal and focused on a site referred to as the 'Southern Mound' on top of which General Kesher Shumsher J.B. Rana had built a rest house in the 1930s (Rijal 1977: 30). Unfortunately, Rijal only published a short summary of his findings in a later paper but stressed that he had found evidence of a sequence running from the sixth century BC until the Gupta period (ibid.). With finds of Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW) in the lowest levels, he also recorded encountering a mud wall and a terracotta ring well of at least 16 courses as well as a Gupta terracotta "plaque mould of Lord Buddha in the Earth Touching posture" (ibid.: 31). Later summarising Rijal's findings, T.N. Mishra confirmed that the site had been occupied between 400 BCE to the eighth century CE and covered an area of 600 metres east to west by 300 metres north to south (Mishra 2004: 13).

Ancient Nepal, Issue 190

Publication date30/04/2015
PublisherDepartment of Archaeology

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Professor Ian Simpson

Professor Ian Simpson

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences