THE Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which started excavations in Sarnath two months ago to ascertain the famous Buddhist site’s true age, has reportedly found C14 carbon samples dating back to 395 BC. The ASI has now sent the samples to the United States for analysis.
The ASI started excavating Sarnath — where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon — on the western side of the Ashokan pillar, earlier this year. The site has yielded several sculptures of Buddha as well as Mauryan polished stone pieces with letters in Ashokan Brahmi characters.
“At present, eleven trenches are under excavation and carbon samples are being collected for dating different layers of the site through scientific dating methods. Two carbon samples were also sent to Beta Analytic Inc in USA last month. For the first time, a scientific date is now available from the site from one of its lowest levels, which goes before the time of emperor Ashoka. In fact, the Beta lab in Miami, Florida has confirmed that one of the samples dated back from 395 to 370 BC,” Additional Director General, ASI, B R Mani told The Indian Express.
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“This gives us satisfaction that we have achieved the objective to know what happened at Sarnath between the time of Lord Buddha and emperor Ashoka. The monastery existed there as per literary evidence and that has now been proved,” he added.
Earlier excavations have been conducted there by Sir Alexander Cunningham (1835-36), Major Kittoe (1851-52), C Horne (1865), FO Oertal (1904-5), Sir John Marshall (1907), H Hargreaves (1914-15), and Daya Ram Sahni (1927-32).