Looking for clues about Ram in the Puranas and from digs conducted by archaeologist Brij Basi Lal
The Supreme Court is hearing the Ayodhya case on a daily basis with a view to be able to pronounce its judgment by November 17, when Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is due to retire. The court has, of course, shown an interest in the official records of the plot on which the Babri Masjid stood until it was demolished in 1992 by a mob which claimed that the mosque stood on the site on which the god Ram had been born. The court has also shown interest in Ram’s ancestors and descendants.
There are two distinct traditions associated with Ram. The Puranas recognise him as a historical person who was a prince and later king of Ayodhya. He is also considered to be an avatar of Vishnu.
In a major initiative in 1975, respected archaeologist Brij Basi Lal began excavations at sites named in the Ramayana such as Ayodhya, Sringaverapura, Bhardwaja Ashrama and Nandigram. ... [he found that] Ramayana sites are younger (and more easterly) than the Mahabharata sites. The question of why archaeological chronology should contradict the Puranic tradition has not received the attention it deserves.
To sum up so far, the oldest inhabitation in Ayodhya cannot be much older than say 700 BCE, which is just 100-200 years before Buddha. Also, intriguingly, archaeologically, Sringaverapura, located upstream on the Ganga 35 km from Prayagraj, is older than Ayodhya.