Surveys a must to protect archaeological sites: expert

Expressing concern:Archaeologist K. Rajan delivering a special lecture organised by the Department of Studies in Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore, on Thursday.— PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM  

Renowned archaeologist and scholar K. Rajan stressed the urgency of a village-to-village survey to conserve archaeological and cultural sites in the country. He said 50 per cent of the sites have been destroyed without a trace.

In an interaction with The Hindu on the sidelines of a special lecture at the University of Mysore here on Thursday, Dr. Rajan said archaeological sites preserve the country’s cultural history and provide empirical evidence of the past. But they are the first casualty and are under threat of being completely destroyed and effaced from the face of the earth owing to pressures of urbanisation and economic development.

“We have already lost 50 per cent of the sites and have to act on a war footing by conducting a thorough survey, collecting all evidence and preserving the data for future generation of scholars to study and analyse them,” he said.

The surface indicators of the archaeological sites have been obliterated in the present march of urbanisation though what is hidden beneath may have been saved. “But without surface indicators, the hidden cultural material cannot be unearthed or excavated,” said Dr. Rajan, who is a professor in the Department of History, Pondicherry University, and has discovered nearly 1,000 archaeological sites besides authoring 12 books and scores of scholarly articles on the subject.

On the crisis plaguing archaeology, Dr. Rajan said inadequate financial allocation and lack of trained manpower were serious issues. “If we have to reorient our theories from the established and conventional theories and base it on hard facts, then we require more data from the field.

Only intensive exploration can result in data collection but it was impeded due to lack of financial and human resources,” said Dr. Rajan.

However, there were plenty of students taking up the study of history and archaeology and they can be trained. He also took exception to the Department of Archaeology in all States being headed by bureaucrats and said they cannot provide the vision and perspective of a field archaeologist. “They may run the department but cannot develop it,” he said.

Earlier, Dr. Rajan delivered a talk on Cultural Transformation from Iron Age to Early Historic Period organised by the Department of Studies in Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore, as part of its centenary celebrations.

V. Shobha, chairperson of the department, M.S. Krishnamurthy, retired professor from the department, students and research scholars were present.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 1:33:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/surveys-a-must-to-protect-archaeological-sites-expert/article8507510.ece

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