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But Coningham said the significance of the study goes beyond the calendar.

Laid out on the same design as those above it, the timber structure contains an open space in the center that links to the nativity story of the Buddha himself.

“Very little is known about the life of the Buddha, except through textual sources and oral tradition,” said archaeologist Professor Robin Coningham of Durham University, U. Some scholars, he said, have maintained that the Buddha was born in the third century B. “We thought ‘why not go back to archaeology to try to answer some of the questions about his birth, “Coningham said.

"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." The team of researchers, led by Coningham and Kosh Prasad Acharya of the Pashupati Area Development Trust in Nepal, published their findings Monday in the journal Antiquity.

The story behind the find will be featured in a National Geographic documentary set to air in February.

The arrangement of the temples' foundation stones suggested that there was a central area that was left open to the sky. The research was funded in part by the National Geographic Society. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google presence.

When the archaeologists excavated that area, they found an arrangement of postholes forming an enclosure — and within that enclosure, they found the remains of tree roots. To keep up with Cosmic Log as well as NBCNews.com's other stories about science and space, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday.

The find is likely to add to Lumbini's archaeological and religious importance as well.

Lumbini is already listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and about a million pilgrims visit the site every year.

Durham University archaeologist Robin Coningham emerges from the dig at the Lumbini Village Mound in Nepal, where a secular settlement contemporary with the earliest temple was discovered.