The stupa is the oldest Buddhist religious monument. In prehistoric times, stupas were simply mounds of earth and stones (tumuli) – places to bury important kings away from the village. Twenty-five hundred years ago, at the time of Shakyamuni Buddha’s death, a change came about in the way stupas were regarded. A stūpa is a mound-like or hemispherical structure containing relics that are used as a place of meditation. A related architectural term is a chaitya, which is a prayer hall or temple containing a stupa.