Many antiquities and monuments in the State remain undocumented under the ambitious National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities project that is funded by the Central Ministry of Culture.
What was to be a comprehensive database of all built heritage, sites and antiquities in the country is incomplete and largely inaccessible to the public.
The term of the five-year National mission project which was launched in 2007 expired this March, and the future of documenting State antiquities remains uncertain.
Egmore Museum which has one of the largest collection of antiquities in the State has so far completed documentation of 12,259 of the 15,884 objects in the archaeology section, 9,859 of the 20,000 objects in the anthropology section, 13,716 of the 56,000 objects in the Numismatics section and all the 1,000 objects in the Arts section, according to the policy note of the Tourism and Culture Department. A department official cited problems relating to funding and shortage of staff as the reason for the delay in documentation.
“Even though the project was started in 2007, it is in its preliminary stages since actual work was done only in the past one year. Only one-third of the funds sanctioned under this project have been released, and since the project officially ended in March, it has to be extended for further work to commence,” said Y. Subbarayalu, former state co-ordinator for the project.
Only one-fourth of the monuments and antiquities in the State had been documented so far, he said.
S. Vasanthi, deputy superintending archaeologist, Department of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu, said details of only 70 of the 85 monuments and 400 of the 3,000 antiquities under the department were sent for documentation.
“Though we had details of many more antiquities, we were unable to get their photographs, which is mandatory. The post of photographer has been vacant,” she said.