With the Ganga flowing very close to the ramshackle fort of Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh at Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, the Archaeological Survey of India is conducting the excavation work with great caution.

Speaking to The Hindu, ASI Additional Director-General D.R. Mani said even after five days of gruelling work, the ASI has not done digging up to two metres.

“It is likely to take a minimum of two to three weeks to reach the reported level of deposits. Once we dig up till the water level, the ASI would have to take a stand on how to proceed further. Water has a tendency to spread.”

Dr. Mani is, however, confident that digging is possible even below the water level.

ASI Deputy Director P.K. Mishra said, “The river is very close to the excavation site. This makes our task more difficult.”

Even though famous British archaeologist Sir Alexander Cunnigham, who was also ASI’s first Director-General, had identified the all-important site at Unnao way back in the 19 Century, it took the premier organisation for archaeological research over a century to start excavation work.

Dr. Mani said Sir Alexander had identified hundreds of sites while running the ASI. “Moreover, he produced archival work of 22 volumes. In 1870, he identified a site at Ghazipur but I did excavation at Lathiya only in 2009. It must be understood that ASI does excavation only after it has conducted its own preliminary survey. Therefore, the ASI does excavation of monuments dating from 5,000 years to 150 years.”

The excavation site is believed to be an ancient settlement which may have the potential of being an important archaeological location. “Till now we have not found any object. We are searching for culture and period of the site, habitation deposits, architecture of the site and architectural sequence,” Dr. Mani said.

The excavation work will throw light on the period around the First War of Independence.

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