Ira Block, National Geographic
In this undated but recent photo released by National Geographic, archaeologists Robin Coningham, second from right, of Britain's Durham University and Nepalese archaeologist Kosh Prasad Acharya, right, direct excavations within the Mayadevi Temple, uncovering a series of ancient temples contemporary with the Buddha as Thai monks meditate in the background. Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama, is generally thought to have been born in about the sixth century B.C. at the temple site.

The birth date of Buddha, one of the most influential religious figures in world history, has been an often-debated topic.

But now, some more clues may have been uncovered. The New York Times reported archaeologists in Lumbini, which is now Nepal and believed to be Buddha’s birthplace, discovered the nativity of buddhism's founder might have been constructed “as early as the sixth century B.C.,” the Times reported.

The archaeologists looked into what is believed to be Buddha’s birth spot. The Times said that in most tellings of the tale, Queen Maya Devi, who is Buddha’s mother, birthed him “while holding on to a branch of a tree in a garden at Lumbini.”

"Very little is known about the life of the Buddha, except through textual sources and oral tradition," Durham University archaeologist Robin Coningham said in a news release, according to NBC News. "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.C."

If the study is correct, Buddha’s nativity would place his life somewhere between 563 B.C. and 483 B.C., which is a widely recognized timeframe for his life, CNN reported. Others say, though, that Buddha’s life was from 448 B.C. to 368 B.C., according to CNN.

CNN also explained the history of the Lumbini, including how it “was lost and stopped attracting pilgrims after the 15th century” for an unknown reason.

Not everyone is on board with the potential birth date, though. Richard Gombrich, a historian of Buddhism at the University of Oxford, called the findings “rubbish,” according to USA Today.

"There's no evidence that what was there already was a Buddhist shrine,” Gombrich told USA Today. “None!"

But Coningham, the lead excavator from Durham University in the United Kingdom, said there’s no easy answer for this, according to USA Today.

"There will always be questions," he told the newspaper. "And there always should be questions."

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