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Centre for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage

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Phase II of fieldwork in the Natal Landscape of the Buddha comes to a close

(1 March 2017)

The fourth season of UNESCO-coordinated fieldwork at Tilaurakot came to a close in March. 

This was actually the sixth season of archaeological research at the site involving Durham, with the first two sponsored by the Lumbini Development Trust and Department of Archaeology (Govt of Nepal). 2017 marks the end of the UNESCO project Phase II of “Strengthening Conservation and Management of Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha, World Heritage Property” (2014-2017) funded by the Japanese Funds-in-Trust.

The fieldwork in January and February 2017 was further supported through a research grant from the National Geographic Society and the Hokke Shu. The team continued to excavate part of the Central Walled Complex in the centre of the city, exposing a series of structures, elaborate areas of paving and part of the complex wall. Further trenches across the eastern and northern rampart continue to build our understanding of the urban development of the site. Fieldwalking and auger-coring around Tilaurakot, Araurakot, Kudan and several smaller sites are helping to map the extent of cultural material and protect endangered heritage within the Nepali Terai through risk mapping.

Running alongside the UNESCO-project was our newly established project Promoting the Protection of Heritage Sites in Nepal’s Western Terai in the Face of Accelerated Development, funded by the AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund and Newton Fund. Focusing on the site of Dohani, training workshops and community surveys were undertaken to explore methodologies for protecting micro-heritage in the region, and monitoring the social and economic impacts of heritage.