Durham University’s UNESCO Chair on Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage, in cooperation with the Department of Archaeology and the Lumbini Development Trust have begun archaeological field activities as part of the Japanese sponsored UNESCO project for the strengthening of the management of Lumbini.
The archaeological team is continuing excavations within the ancient walled city of Tilaurakot-Kapilavastu, at the recently identified large monumental complex at the centre of the city. This palatial 100 x 100 metres area was defined by a 1.50 metres wide wall, with individual bricks measuring 0.47 x 0.30 x 0.05 metres. The team is now defining it’s southern gateway, as well as structures found near its north-west corner. These structures will be subsequently conserved and presented to visitors and pilgrims.
The team is also undertaking excavations outside the city’s fortification at a number of locations to the east, north and west, to demonstrate the significance of its hinterland. This includes further investigations at the Eastern Stupa to better understand the nature of its precinct boundary wall. Excavations are also being undertaken in an area known as the Northern Suburb, close to the village of Shivagarh. These excavations will identify, characterise and date settlements outside the fortifications, which will be related to results from previous investigations undertaken within the city walls.
The team of Nepali and international archaeologists has been joined by experts in geophysics, faunal remains and artefact conservation, as well as students from Tribhuvan University and Lumbini Buddhist University. The students are being trained in excavation and exploration as well as visitor and handicraft surveys to augment their archaeological expertise with heritage management training. The field season will wrap up in March with a heritage festival at the Kapilavastu Museum, which will communicate the importance of heritage, promote intangible heritage and engage with local communities, and hosts a series of competitions for local school students.