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On 150 years of archaeological finds

Staff Reporter
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The Government Museum in Egmore is exhibiting artefacts from renowned geologist Robert Bruce Foote’s collection —Photo: M. Vedhan
The Government Museum in Egmore is exhibiting artefacts from renowned geologist Robert Bruce Foote’s collection —Photo: M. Vedhan

At the centre of the centenary exhibition hall at the Government Museum in Egmore, lie two closely-guarded Palaeolithic tools — one a hand axe from Pallavaram and another, a cleaver from Attirampakkam.

On May 30, 1863, exactly 150 years ago, renowned geologist Robert Bruce Foote picked up the hand axe from the “debris on the Brigade Ground at Pallavaram near Madras”.

The museum, in collaboration with Sharma Centre for Heritage Education is commemorating the momentous discovery by organising a special exhibition of Foote’s collection of stone tools. R.B. Foote sold the tools to the museum in 1904 for Rs. 40,000, said R. Kannan, secretary, tourism, culture and religious endowments department.  

Over 75 tools have been put on display, said, anthropology gallery curator, Thulasi Brinda. “They are from places such as Mysore and Baroda among others. This is also the first time we have displayed a painting of Robert Bruce Foote,” she said.  

M.L.K. Murty, Tagore National Fellow, Archaeological Survey of India, who delivered the first Robert Bruce Foote Memorial Lecture on the occasion, spoke about how Foote, who was a geologist at Madras Presidency, was inspired by the recognition given to stone tools discovered in Europe, to make his findings.

While the museum is conducting a one-month course on caring for museum objects, the Sharma centre is marking this 150{+t}{+h} year by holding a five-day workshop on Robert Bruce Foote.

Vaigai Chelvan, minister for school education, inaugurated the exhibition, which covers pre-historic cultures, methods used in the excavation and the significance of the discoveries, among other topics. The exhibition will be on until June 5. 

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