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The times of Gautama’s birth and death are uncertain: most historians in the early 20th century dated his lifetime as circa 563 BCE to 483 BCE,[1] but more recent opinion dates his death to between 486 and 483 BCE or, according to some, between 411 and 400 BCE.[15][note 5] However, at a symposium on this question held in 1988,[1][16] the majority of those who presented definite opinions gave dates within 20 years either side of 400 BCE for the Buddha’s death. These alternative chronologies, however, have not yet been accepted by all other historians.[17][18] The discovery of a possible Buddhist shrine dated to 550 BCE at the Maya Devi Temple, Lumbini may push back the Buddha’s birth date.[19]
No written records about Gautama have been found from his lifetime or several centuries thereafter. The Gandhāran Buddhist texts, the oldest surviving Buddhist manuscripts, reported to have been found in or around Haḍḍa near Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan and preserved in the British Library today, was written in the Kharoṣṭhī script and the Gāndhārī language on twenty-seven Birch bark scrolls from the first century BCE to the third century CE.[20]