Ancient Myanmar and the Ancient World (to 900AD)
6th Century - 2013
Birthplace of Buddha
The site was apparently unknown for centuries. In 1896 a German archeologist discovered a pillar erected by the Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century B.C. to mark the place of the Buddha's birth. The inscription on the pillar is a Prakrit language (similar to Pali) written in the Brahmi script. It is the first ever Indian writing. Asoka's inscriptions are also the very first written mention anywhere about the Buddha.
(The earliest Buddhist scriptures still in existence are the Gandhara...
A photo of the “Pyu” script
Myanmar's three 1st Millennium cities Halin, Beikthano-myo, and Sri Ksetra have recently been named UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This photo shows an example of the "Pyu" script, which is a variant of the Pallava script of South India. Irrawaddy valley Buddhism was strongly influenced by South Indian Buddhism during the mid-1st Millennium.
Why do the Burmese name their eras after the Sakas (သက္က)?
Burmese refer to eras as thekkarit (သကၠရာဇ္) which of course is from the Indian "Saka-raj". Saka-raj simply means the "Saka king". The Sakas or "Indo-Scythians" were a central Asian people who dominated parts of what are today Pakistan and northern India around 2,000 years ago. Their most famous king was the great Buddhist ruler Kanishka. He is the Maha Saka-raj (မဟာသကၠရာဇ္); the "Maha Saka-raj" is his era (beginning 78AD). A jeweled casket belonging to King Kanishka and containing bone fragments...
Romans in Myanmar?
In 121 AD an embassy crossed into the Chinese Han Empire from what is today Myanmar and was taken to the then capital Luoyang. The embassy may have been from a Myanmar ruler, but may also have come from further west. The embassy was accompanied by a troupe of entertainers, including jugglers and acrobats, who performed at the Han imperial court. The Chinese were intrigued by the outlandish entertainers and learned that they were Roman subjects. From exactly where in...