I'm publishing this in full both for my illumintion and that of others. Archaeology is a mostly badly needed science in India today, given the MASSIVE fraud being perpetrated upon the people through politicians intent on distorting India's history (and pre-history) for their personal gain.
by H D Sankalia, India International Centre Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 1 (October 1974), pp. 18-30
When India was in bondage, and split up into a number of semi independent states, often fighting amongst themselves, and with Great Britain slowly emerging as the paramount power in the sub continent, it was archaeology—knowledge of India's past through her ancient remains—that got her some respect. The decipherment of the Brahmi script by James Prinsep in 1834-37 revealed that this land, and its civilization, was as old as that of Ptolemaic Egypt. Yet a hundred years later John Marshall dared to say that Indian history and civilization were not very old, that Indian Art was not as good as Greek Art ! This was quite true in 1923 because we had nothing to show earlier than the caves and inscribed rocks and pillars of Ashoka. It was the discovery of Harappa and Mohenjodaro that set things right. It proved that not only was this land as old as Greece and the Bible but that these cities could boast of a civilization that was older than that of Rome and Greece and comparable to that of Egypt and Mesopotamia.
During the last fifty years archaeology has brought to light some more unique features of this civilization and also shown the parallel existence of several other cultures on a lower level of development in the rest of India. Nobody can now say that 5000 or 6000 years ago India was one vast land either uninhabited or inhabited by the barbaric, nomadic, hunter-gatherers only. On the contrary, archaeology has enabled us to know how by slow steps Man in India, as in Europe and Africa and now in distant Australia and the US had marched towards civilization.
It is this awareness of India's most distant as well as the immediate past that we owe to archaeology. This consciousness has created a healthy respect for the nation, and aroused curiosity amongst its scholars as well as foreigners about the past. It has become important to know how, deep, more reliable, and more useful knowledge touching all aspects of India's past can be obtained. It is also important and necessary that this new know ledge of the past should not remain confined to a few scholars but should reach the masses, so that all will be involved and proud of doing something worthwhile.
In this article, I will review:
(1) the salient features and development of Indian Archaeology, particularly since 1947;
(2) discuss the role of the agencies which have contributed to this development;
(3) discuss the nature of this development and its net result;
(4) discuss how far we can adopt or use the methods of New Archaeology;
(5) point out how we should plan for the future;
(6) and suggest the means by which we could convey the new knowledge in archaeology to the Indian masses.
Era of Time-Tables
The most significant fact, symptomatic of what India itself was to achieve a few years later, was that in the 1940s, the Government of India which was largely British, lost or gave up its monopoly of archaeological excavations in the country. In a small way first, the University of Calcutta and then the Deccan College took to the field and later other Universities followed. This was indeed a big step forward and has contributed considerably to rapid development in our knowledge of India's past. This was further accelerated by defining for the first time what the aim of Indian archaeology should be. It was indeed very limited and in truth suitable to the beginning of archaeology in any country. The aim was to determine the 'time-table' of cultures in India. There was not that flair of the anthropologists to show progress "from savagery and barbarism to civilization." It was just the desire to know our past and to detail the various steps by which this could be reached. So this quarter-century since Independence might well be called an "Era of Time-Tables". For the precise, difficult and exacting means to realize this aim we are grateful to Sir Mortimer Wheeler, whose first Indian pupil I happen to be.
This era of time-tables has indeed achieved much, though anthropologists and historians have begun to question its validity lately. This is but natural as all aims and goals need to be re-defined along with new advances in knowledge. Consequently the means to achieve these goals necessarily undergo a change and are refined or are rejected in toto.
Wheeler's aim was limited : He wanted to establish a fixed point in early South Indian history. This was established by excavations at Arikamedu near Pondicherry and later at Chandravalli and Brahmagiri in Karnataka. He and other scholars along with him feel sure that the great Satavahanas ruled in South India between the 3rd century B.C. and 1st and 2nd century a.d. and that during their time a fine Black-and-red pottery, sometimes painted in red and yellow, had come into use in the country south of the River Krishna. This was also the time when Roman trade flourished and Roman wine, women and gold poured into India. This was known earlier from literature, but was documented archaeologically by the occurrence of two famous Roman wares, the two-handled amphorae and the rouletted ware.
Polished stone axe culture
Wheeler's excavations at Brahmagiri. also revealed for the first time a prehistoric culture viz. The Polished Stone Axe culture. This again was associated with a pottery distinctive in shape, fabric and decoration, and human skeletal remains. Thus within two years, important milestones in the past were reached as far as South India was concerned. The systematic collection of surface pottery soon revealed a broad pattern of distribution of the Polished Stone Axe culture and the subsequent megalithic and Satavahana culture.
Before Wheeler left India, he had arranged for a systematic survey and classification of megaliths in South India. To his great credit as well as to his assistants, this difficult task was also accomplished.
If the excavations at Brahmagiri paved the way for unravelling Karnataka's past, that of Jorwe and Nasilc laid the foundation for revealing the prehistoric cultures of western Maharashtra. At Nasik were found traces of a culture which preceded the Satavahana culture by some centuries. While the discoveries of the Jorwe culture helped to connect Wheeler's earlier discoveries further north, that of Gangapur near Nasik showed that this region need not have been bypassed by man because it was heavily forested or because quartzite, the preferred raw material for making stone tools, was not there. Excavations have shown that there is no part of western Maharashtra which does not possess the traces of Early Man.
One thing was now fairly well established. Sites traditionally known to be ancient were indeed old, dating back not only 1000 to 2000 years but to a prehistoric period as well. On this ground, should one not take up the verification of sites mentioned in Puranic accounts such as Maheshwar on the Narmada and Hastinapur on the Ganga?
Maheshwar and Navdatoli
It was with the intention of testing the truth or otherwise of the Puranic accounts of Maheshwar, that for the first time in India three Universities – those of Bombay, Baroda and Poona – were brought together in a joint venture organized by the Deccan College, Poona with financial support from private donors. It was their cooperative effort that brought to light the rich prehistory of Maheshwar and gradually of the whole of western Madhya Pradesh. This Joint Universities expedition was followed by another four years later concentrating on a more specific problem viz. to know the life of the dwellers on the Narmada 3500 years ago and to seek to understand their relationship with distant Iran. The excavations by the University of Saugar at the famous historic site of Eran and then by the Vikram Uni versity at Kayatha near Ujjain have substantiated the truth of the results reached at Maheshwar and Navdatoli. We are shown not only the wide extent and regional variation in the Malwa culture, as this was then called, but also the antecedents or the earlier phases of the Malwa culture at Kayatha.
India is so vast that it can be divided not only into broad regional cultures but also into sub-regional cultures. This is being proved every day archaeologically. Atleast two cultures have been brought to light between the Jorwe culture in the South and the Navdatoli culture in the north. Of these Prakash in Khandesh is well-known.
Hastinapur and the Painted Grey Ware
If the excavations at Maheshwar have proved that there was some truth in the Puranic accounts when they spoke of the establishment of the Naga and other kingdoms at Mahishmati ( a city supposedly founded by King Muchukunda according to Puranic tradition), then could Hastinapur and other sites mentioned in the Mahabharata be equally old? This was a definite problem with which Professor B. B. Lai started investigations and explorations in 1950-52. Within a few years a wide distribution of the Painted Grey Ware, the distinctive pottery first found at Ahichchhatra has been established and the excavations at Hastinapur, Ahichchhatra, Noh, Kausambi and Atranjikhera have shown that the whole Ganga-Yamuna doab, between 400 B.C. and 800 B.C. was inhabitated by a people who used an identical pottery. It is indeed unfortunate that twenty years after its discovery we still do not know whether to designate this widespread occurrence of Painted Grey Ware as a culture or civilization because excepting for a few pots and pans and some tools, weapons and ornaments, no other details like house plans and settlement pattern have become known. I believe that this Painted Grey Ware does not belong to the Early Aryans, but might belong to the various kingdoms—Pandava, Kaurava etc. mentioned in the Mahabharata. It is also certain that the Painted Grey Ware people were not the earliest people after the Harappans in the Punjab, western UP and North Rajasthan, but a people who lived a considerable time after those who used Harappan-like, black-painted, red pottery with distinctive shapes and also the bearers of flat, shouldered and bar celts, hooked-spear-heads, antennae swords etc., the so-called "Copper Hoards".
Unfortunately for want of a more systematic and determined effort, the period between 2000/1700 B.C. and 1000 B.C. still remains obscure, if not dark.
However, the Indus civilization is better known now than twenty-five years ago. This is again due to the work undertaken by Wheeler and other scholars in the Archaeological Survey of India. Excavations at Harappa have shown that this civilization was not non-violent, but had taken enough precautions to safeguard its cities by putting up fortifications through the length and breadth of its cultural empire which now extended over 1000 miles from north to south and the same from east to west. The latest site to show this feature is Surkotada in Kutch and Gumla and Rahman Dheri in the north western frontier region. It has now been established that this civilization normally had a citadel, where houses and other constructions were built on huge platforms. There is also the evidence of a "Lower Town". In addition to these, the structures at Kalibangan point to the remains used for rituals as well.
Another most interesting feature of this civilization was revealed at Lothal in Gujarat. This is a large dock-like structure measuring 218×37 metres. It does not seem to be a tank as some scholars have argued, but appears to be a true dock, the earliest to be so recognized in India and perhaps in the whole world.
More important than all this is the fact, now clearly established, that the Indus civilization was not the earliest culture either in Sind or the Punjab. It was preceded by an equally extensive, though probably less developed civilization. No town plan of this culture or civilization has been laid bare but we are assured at Kalibangan and Kot Diji that this pre Harappan settlement was fortified. The question now arises, who were these pre-Harappans settled all over Sind, North Rajasthan and the Punjab? Their pottery shows much more Iranian influence than the Indus and the Harappan varieties. The evidence at Kalibangan and Kot Diji is definite that the pre-Harappan cities were burnt and destroyed by the Harappans. It we think once again in terms of Aryans and Dravidians the question arises : who were the Kot Dijians destroyed by the Harappans?
As if this problem was not difficult enough, Dr. Dani of the University of Peshawar has found in his excavations at Gumla in the north western frontier region of India, a culture earlier than the pre-Harappan. Another early culture has been discovered near Taxila as well as on other sites in this frontier province of Pakistan. The whole thing is becoming more and more exciting to archaeologists who are interested in the beginnings of civilization in the Indian sub-continent. But there is little doubt that the Kot Diji, Kalibangan and the Gumla cultures were greatly influenced by the cultures of Afghanistan and Iran.
A clear understanding of the problems raised by archaeological work during the last twenty-five years, and definite solutions, cannot be reached unless planned work can be taken up in Pakistan. Such a planned effort is necessary not only for understanding the genesis of the Harappan and pre-Harappan civilizations, but also the Cemetery-Harappan and Painted Grey Ware cultures as well.
There is little doubt now that the rest of India, outside the pale of the Indus civilization, was neither a terra incognita nor a land which was inhabitated by Stone Age savages. Vertical excavations in Bihar, West Bengal and in Andhra-Karnataka and horizontal excavations at Navdatoli in MP and Inamgaon near Poona and at Ahar in Southeast Rajasthan have shown that at least by 2500 b.c, people had begun to build mud huts throughout India. Their pottery was made 011 the wheel and they ate rice in eastern India, ragi and kulath in Andhra-Karnataka and wheat, rice, lentil, sesamum peas and flax etc. in Maharashtra and MP. Thus the foundation of an agricultural life had been laid. However there is as yet no trace of writing anywhere and therefore anthropologically these people are considered illiterate.
A brief reference to the pottery each regional or sub-regional group had is necessary, with a view to ascertaining ethno-archaeologically (that is, by finding out what kinds of pots and pans the various tubal or aboriginal pre-literate people used either in the past or at present) who these people were. It has been found in two cases by detailed study of the present Bhil population around Udaipur, and the Boyas, a semi-nomadic people living at Tekkalkota in the Bellary District, that, compared to the rich and varied stock of pots and pans which each of these newly discovered cultures at Ahar (Rajasthan) and Tekkalkota possessed some 4000 years ago, the present occupants were indeed poor, and occupied the lower rungs of the social ladder. The same thing would be true in the case of the Jorwe culture of Maharashtra and the still richer Navdatoli culture of Madhya Pradesh.
Colonization Of India
If these prehistoric cultures cannot be derived from the indigenous elements, how may we account for their presence in the various parts of India between 2500 B.C. and 500 B.C.? I have come to the conclusion on the basis of present knowledge, that these regional cultures have to be called 'colonizations', using the word 'colonization' in a descriptive sense. Even when I propose this solution for understanding the sudden emergence of so many distinctive regional cultures I must make it clear that at no time do I visualize a very large scale migration of people from abroad. What I believe is that a small group of people seem to have trickled in during the course of this long past, particularly from the north-west and south-east and east, across the Khyber, Bolan and the Gomel passes as well as the jungles of Assam across Burma and populated various regions of India by mixing with the local population. Thus were born the Ahar culture in Southeast Rajasthan, the Kayatha and Navdatoli cultures of Madhya Pradesh, the Prakash and Jorwe cultures of Maharashtra and the Brahmagiri culture of Andhra-Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Even the earlier Indus or the Harappan civilization and its predecessors, the Kot Diji, Kalibangan and the Gumla cultures contain many Iranian and Western Asiatic elements. There is little doubt that the various Baluchi cultures—Kile Gul Mohmed, Damb Sadat, Shahi Tump and Nal, to name only the few well-known cultures, were all derived from Iran and western Asia. This seems also to be true of the earliest Neolithic and its later phases at Burzahom in Kashmir.
It is in this way that the introduction of the Megalithic culture of Peninsular India was explained by Wheeler and Haimandorf, when its outline first became clear by the former's excavation at Brahmagiri. After Wheeler's departure, the interest in this problem flagged, and except for the uncovering of a few more megaliths at Sanur in Tamil Nadu and Nagarjunakonda and Maski in Andhra, nothing further was done. No town site of this period was detected or even partially opened. As a consequence even after twenty five years we do not know how these megalithic people lived.
However, our knowledge about the further northward extension of megalithic monuments in the Bijapurand other districts of Karnataka as well as in Vidarbha around Nagpur has been enriched by the intensive and sys tematic survey conducted by Dr. Sundara and the useful excavations by Dr. S. B. Deo of the Nagpur University at Junapani and Mahurjhari. The latter have yielded not only precious but tantalizing finds as they show dis tinct similarities with those dug up in the last century at Adichanalur in Tamil Nadu and those of eastern Iran. The Nagpur discovery underlines the importance of continuous planned work in other parts of India in a field which belongs to the transitional phase between prehistory and history. Dr. Sundara's work in the Bhima-Tungabhadra basins has indicated that this concept might have originated in the preceding Copper and Bronze Age, thus leading to a number of new lines of inquiry.
The pre-history significance of the few discoveries in Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Kashmir should be pointed out. Bihar was the last out post of Aryan penetration according to some scholars, thus suggesting that nothing earlier would be found here except stone tools. But the discoveries at Chirand and Sonpur reveal that man had learnt to grow rice, make ex cellent tools and weapons of bones as well as wood as early as 2500 B.C. to 2000 B.C. Where did he get this knowledge from ? Evidence is now accumulating that in Meghalaya at least, the influence had come from Thailand across Burma. This influence might have penetrated further into Bihar. A similar but more elaborate Neolithic way of life is found at Burzahom in the Kashmir valley, where people lived in karewa pits, manufactured fine pots and pans and excellent bone tools and buried their dead as well as animals within the habitation. If the evidence of the objects—pots—from the late Neolithic phase of life is to be relied on, the civilizing influence in this instance seems to have come from eastern Iran.
Thus, by about 3500 B.C. from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Assam-Bihar to Baluchistan and Kutch we witness man emerging from a purely nomadic Stone Age way of life and establishing, within a thousand years, an urban civilization in western India, and a pastoral-cum-agricultural way of life in the rest of India. While all this is new knowledge obtained during the last twenty-five years, the explanation of the marked divergence in the cultural development as well as the full implications of these various regional cultures should hold the attention of scholars in the remaining quarter of this century. We shall see later how we might attempt these solutions.
Development of Man In India
Let us now see briefly how Man in India had reached this stage. One cannot fail remarking that whereas in 1947 or 1939 one could have only a glimpse of the Early Stone Age man in Madras, Gujarat and the Punjab, now we can broadly declare that, as in Europe and Africa, in India we can take back the antiquity of man for nearly 3,00,000 years or more. Almost every part of India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Dwarka to Bhuvaneshwar and Gauhati was inhabitated by Early Man and we do not leave him at this stage. Enough evidence has been available practically from all parts of India to document changes in man's life, and his mental development, until he reached the stage where we see him making a fundamental change in his lifeways, depending more upon raising of food and live-stock than on hunting. It is of little interest and significance to assert that, broadly, as far as the stone tools are concerned, man's mental and industrial development parallels what one witnesses in Europe, Africa and western Asia. In these continents we have first the large stone tools of quartzite and trap called hand axes; cleavers and choppers during the Early Stone Age, then comparatively small tools of various fine grain material called points, borers and scrapers of the Middle Palaeolithic period. Evidently these were used for making larger tools and weapons of bone and wood. Fine blade tools and burins, the proto-type of our steel blades, come next. So far these highly specialized tools were believed to have been confined to Europe and western Asia and were regarded as the hallmark of the Upper Palaeoliths. These are now found to occur in Andhra-Karnataka, southern Bihar, southern UP as well as in parts of Maharashtra and even near Gwalior, as we are informed by Professor B. B. Lai. More important, the lime stone caves of Kurnool have yielded not only a few tools of this type but plenty of Upper Pleistocene fauna and bone which have been worked into tools with the help of burins, exactly as they have done in western Europe. Thus except for the cave art—painting, engraving and objects in the round, we have all the necessary evidence for postulating an Upper Palaeolithic period in India.
The 'microliths' or tools made on fine grained stones found above help us build the bridge to the Neolithic. Practically the whole of India has yielded microliths, but these can be dated to a period about 5000 B.C. in Andhra-Karnataka and southern Bihar. Thus no more in India do we have "stones and more stones". All these stones speak, and relate the story of man's physical, mental, social and economic development over the period between 3,00,000 years to 3000 B.C.
The help that archaeologists have got from the Birbal Sahani Institute, Lucknow and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bombay and the zoologists of the Anthropological Survey of India, the M. S. University of Baroda, and Dr. Alur of Dharwar has to be acknowledged at this point. If the lifeways of the maker of pots and pans and stone tools have become more real to us, and the knowledge about his time more exact, it is because these institutes identified the charred grains, grain impressions, and animal bones. The Tata Institute gave us the Carbon-14 or radiocarbon method of dating the past, where the known rate of decay of carbon-14, present in all living matter, is used as the basis of dating.
Compared to the tremendous strides taken in the development of pre and proto-historic archaeology, it must be admitted that not much has been achieved in the field of historical archaeology. No doubt, Wheeler began with this, putting South Indian history on a firm basis. This was followed up by Professor B.B. Lai's work at Sisupalgarh in Orissa and the tremendous salvage effort of excavating an entire city and transplanting it on a hill at Nagarajunakonda was also witnessed in this period.
The ancient city of Kausambi, near Allahabad, is being dug by the University of Allahabad for the last 20 years and more. These excavations have proved how valuable this site is for knowing the various facets of life in ancient India. However, only horizontal excavations will tell what the layout of this city was at different periods in its long history. This knowledge alone will give us an insight into the life of the people. The con temporary city of Ujjain was also dug by the Archaeological Survey of India and important evidence obtained, particularly about the antiquity of iron.
The expeditious manner in which the Universities of Baroda and Nagpur have published the results of the excavations at Baroda, Vadnagar, Devnimori, and Pauni respectively deserve a special mention, because such an effort has to be emulated all over India. The magnificient stupas at Devnimori and Pauni in regions which are forested today show the immense dedication of the Buddhists in taking their faith to the remotest parts of India. Equally creditable is the work of the K. P. Jayswal Research Insti tute, Patna, which has carried out excavations at Vaisali and other sites in Bihar, and published the results. Likewise, the Universities of Calcutta and Madras have published the results of their work at Rajabdiganga and in the lower Kaveri Valley. In short, the entry by the Universities and research institutions in field archaeology has immensely benefitted the subject. Not only is their work as good as that of the Archaeologlcai Survey, but more expeditious and much cheaper.
Among the most important epigraphical discoveries since 1947 are the Asokan edicts in Greek and Aramaic at Kandahar in Afghanistan, the Gujarra inscription from Madhya Pradesh which is the second record men tioning Asoka's name; an early Jaina inscription from Pale near Kamshet, Maharashtra, wherein we find the earliest Saka date, and the earliest inscription from Devnimori in Gujarat, Hisse Borala inscription of the Vakataka Devasena from Basim and the inscription of Ramagupta from Vidhisha. The discovery of stone sculptures and bronzes in Gujarat has been welcome. Some of them help fill the gap between the 7th-10th centuries a.d. and between the 2nd-5th centuries A.D.
Some concepts have been aired in the West under the name of New Archaeology. Having been associated with a group of American students who employed some of its methods on a specified site in Saurashtra, and having attended a seminar on the subject in the US I must say frankly that those Indians and foreigners who advocate a wholesale employment of these methods in India have little idea of Indian sites. These sites very often belong to a number of periods, so that surface collection of potsherds and other items however carefully made can barely give an insight into the social features of the life of the inhabitants. Moreover, our sites are quite diffe rent from those of the Navajo and other American Indian tribes. So to expect a knowledge or evidence of social stratification, religion etc. through archaeology is not quite justifiable, though desirable.
Pottery still forms an integral part of any household, rich or poor, whether the person belongs to the upper class or the lower class. So it was in the past and as far as we can take back its antiquity. However, from the difference in the quality of pottery at any given site, historic or pre historic, it will indeed be hazardous to arrive at a judgement about strati fication in that society. At the most one may get some idea about the status of the individual, if his grave contains more or less number of vessels. Archaeology by its definition is a study of antiquities—material objects. However much one may talk of ideal archaeology the basic premise viz. the collection, classification and interpretation of facts remains.
Plan For The Future
Compared to what was done and known earlier the recent advances in Indian archaeology might look phenomenal. The reasons for this growth of knowledge are obvious. The government monopoly is no longer there. Apart from the activities of the reorganized Archaeological Survey, a number of Universities and research institutions have taken up the quest of discovering India's past. A welcome change befitting India's freedom from bondage had come. Hence this progress in archaeology.
Still we must not be complacent. As some scholars rightly feel, these explorations followed by vertical excavations have in many cases become ends in themselves : Initial exploration is comparatively easy and vertical excavations might follow, because these do not cost much, or require a large personnel. But these should not be our sole aim. As soon as a reason able and sure chronology of a site or culture is established, efforts have to be made to know as much as possible of the life of the people concerned with all the limitations inherent in such a search. Such an effort requires a horizontal excavation and such an excavation cannot be conceived of without adequate funds, a large and trained personnel and utmost exactitude in the field and almost immediate study of the finds on the field. Horizontal excavations should not be undertaken lightly. Again, the aims should be clearly defined and explained to every member of the staff. By this small but significant details will not be missed. I dare say this having organized for such excavations at Navdatoli, Tekalkota, Sangankal and Inamgaon.
It is only when such excavations are undertaken in various parts of India and the finds studied in relation to their location and interpretation arrived at in reasonably good time, by experts from various disciplines such as physical anthropology, biology, chemistry, medicine and geology, that a reasonably good, though not complete, picture of man's life in the past may be reconstructed.
In future, archaeologists in India should try to work in the areas mentioned below:
(1) Search for and undertake the excavation of camp or habitation sites of Early Man and his successors so as to have an idea of the life of these people, the changing climatic conditions and the flora and fauna of the region. A beginning in this direction has been made at Chirki Nevasa and at Adamgarh and Bhimbetka near Bhopal.
(2) Horizontal excavations of Neolithic and Chalcolithic sites, such as Chirand, Sonapur, Majhi in Bihar, Burzahom in Kashmir, Tekkalkota, Sangankal in Karnataka have to be undertaken. On this basis, some information can be gathered about the settlement pattern, size of family and density of population, basis of subsistence, trade and commerce, social and economic organization, religion and adminis tration of the people of that age.
(3) Excavation of megalithic sites in Andhra-Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Vidarbha with a similar aim and with a view to knowing the origins of the megalithic people.
(4) Excavation of town sites of the historic periods—early mediaeval and even earlier, but particularly of the period from 300 B.C. to 1000 A.D. At present we really do not know anything about the layout of the cities of the period.
In all these areas, we should adopt new methods and techniques only so far as they suit Indian conditions. Certain methods give only a superficial, scientific veneer to the subject but do not touch the heart of the problem. Therefore I would suggest that the validity of these new scientific methods be tested by doing the same work with the help of orthodox methods though the latter are regarded as expensive and time-consuming.
Indian archaeologists should take advantage of aerial photography and gain fresh insights by photographing such extensive sites as Kausambi and Tripuri, Eran, urnfields around Nagpur and at several places in the south. What can be learnt by a long and costly ground survey can often be known from such aerial surveys. Except for Sisupalgarh and perhaps one or two other places, no other site has been photographed from the air to my knowledge.
Underwater archaeology has also developed during the last decade. This difficult and daring discipline could also be employed in India, as we have a long coast line on the west and the east. With our extensive trade with the western countries and Africa and Southeast Asia, there must have been cases of expensive cargoes which got sunk and some of these might be salvaged.
Study of Human Skeletons
Something has got to be done for the expeditious, scientific study and reconstruction of human skeletons and animal bones from excavations. Without such a study all our knowledge of the Harappan and post-Harappan cultures as well as the Late Stone Age, Neolithic and Megalithic remains incomplete. Man himself is always more important than his few creations gathered by archaeologists. Unfortunately so many reports of such discoveries of skeletons have remained unexplored. Study of Animal Bones The study of animal bones has now become a full-time but extremely rewarding job. We do not just want an idea of the sort of animals man killed for his food, but also whether these animals were young or grown up, domesticated or not, and the amount of protein that man could have had in his diet.
Aim Of Archaeology
The answer to the question: "Why is all this work undertaken?" is that archaeology helps us to know our past, so that we may guide our steps in the future and develop a sense of pride and awareness of our legacy. It is indeed important that all necessary steps be taken to communicate this new knowledge to the masses. At present we do not notice this happening. It is not enough to issue press notes some months after an excavation is completed. Wherever an excavation is being conducted the people of that region should be informed about its purpose. And when the excavation is done, an exhibition should be held on the site, explaining the significance of the new discoveries in a language that can be easily understood. Likewise all restrictions on photography should be removed. A specialized report and articles in research journals should follow as a matter of course. Nobody should be denied permission to use the excavated material. Archaeology, new or old, and the knowledge it gives of the past should be shared at all levels and should not be a preserve of a few scholars or officers in the Archaeological Survey or a University. Such an involvement of the masses will create pride and respect for India's past and help prevent the looting of the Indian heritage, which is clandestinely going on before our eyes, by encouragement from foreigners and the active cooperation of our own people.
Our literary tradition should not be neglected. A study of Indian literature from the archaeological point of view should be undertaken and efforts should be made to sift the chaff from the grains by excavating tradi tionally known sites with a view to testing their antiquity. Hastinapur, Dwarka, Nasik, Maheshwar and Tripuri have already been dug up. Ayodhya arid Mathura should now be excavated. Likewise, the Mahabharata and other Puranic accounts should be examined critically as was done with the Ramayana.
There is no dearth of expertise. What is needed is a well thought out plan of future work so that several lacunae existing in our knowledge of Man in India and his material development throughout the long time that he has been here can be filled up. At the same time everyone engaged in work must know that it is not enough to discover or to excavate. All excavations and explorations, small or big, must be fully and speedily reported.
With the rapid discovery of newer scientific methods of detecting, retrieving and interpreting lost evidence, the quest of Early Man and his successors as well as their cultures is becoming exceedingly fascinating and absorbing. India of today and of tomorrow must participate in this quest more meaningfully, more seriously and more sincerely.