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Archaeologists have uncovered the site where Buddha was born in southwestern Nepal more than 2,600 years ago, the government announced Monday.

A team of international archaeologists has excavated rooms where an Indian prince named Siddhartha was born in 623 B.C. Siddhartha renounced the material world to become a traveling monk, and his disciples founded Buddhism.The ancient Indian state where Siddhartha is believed to have been born now straddles southern Nepal and the modern Indian state of Bihar.

Some Indian historians have maintained that Buddha was probably born in India. But archaeologists in Nepal said the excavation in Lumbini, 145 miles southwest of the capital, Katmandu, should end the controversy. There was no independent confirmation of the findings.

Archaeologists discovered Buddha's birthplace nine months ago under an ancient temple honoring Maya Devi, his mother, the government said. The announcement was not made until the studies were complete.

Ancient inscriptions on a pillar above the chambers claimed Buddha was born there. The discovery of the chambers confirmed the ancient claims, said Babu Krishna Rijal, one of the two Nepali archaeologists on the team.

The pillar was built by Ashoka, an Indian king who converted from Hinduism to Buddhism and is believed to have spread the religion to East Asian nations.