An atlas of the past

It will have information about the political, social, economic and cultural history of the South from the Old Stone Age to the 16th century

SOUTH INDIA has many important historical sites starting from the Old Stone Age which face threat due to increased human activities. There is a need for documenting them properly. The French Institute of Pondicherry, backed by the Ford Foundation, has taken the lead in a venture to prepare a historical atlas of South India using the modern tools of technology. And Mangalore University is a partner in this mega project.The atlas will be prepared in digital format by using the Geographic Information System. It will cover all historical sites of Kerala and Tamil Nadu where a lot of preliminary work has been done. In the case of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, one district each has been taken up as a pilot project to begin with.The other collaborating universities for the three other States are the Tamil University of Thanjavur, the Mahatma Gandhi University of Kottayam, and the University of Hyderabad. The research team from Mangalore University, headed by Kesavan Veluthat of the Department of History, is in charge of the whole of Karnataka. To begin with, the team has chosen Shimoga district for a pilot project.Prof. Veluthat said: "As a preliminary step, the team recently conducted a preliminary survey of Shimoga district. It has identified about 300 sites, representing all periods in the past from the pre-historic period onwards."

Valuable information

Prof. Veluthat said that sophisticated computer software as well as satellite images would be used to "locate the sites precisely on the maps.'' The atlas would contain information about the political, social, economic and cultural history of the South from the Old Stone Age to the 16th century. Pictorial images of historical monuments, impressions and texts of inscriptions and brief descriptive accounts of the sites marked will form part of the atlas. The team of scholars working on the project hopes that the atlas will be a source reference for any student of the history, archaeology, art, architecture and culture of the region as well as for the interested layman.The atlas will be made available in CD or DVD form and put on the Internet by April, 2008, the deadline fixed. The Ford Foundation has given Rs. 90 lakhs for the project.RAVIPRASAD KAMILA

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