Directorate of Archaeology ( Uttar Pradesh ) INDIA Directorate of Archaeology ( Uttar Pradesh ) INDIA Directorate of Archaeology ( Uttar Pradesh ) INDIA
Important Findings
Exploration & Excavation
Suggested Topics For Research
Background and Introduction to the Institution
Archaeological studies in India were initiated in 1784 with the establishment of the Asiatic Society in Bengal by Sir William Jones. He is credited with the identification of Chandragupta Maurya with Sandrokottos of Greek literature. He was also the first to develop parameters for the chronology of Ancient Indian History as well as the identification of the ancient site of Pataliputra on the confluence of the Ganga and Son. Other scholars associated with the Asiatic Society also contributed very significantly. Notable among them were Charles Wilkinson who deciphered the Gupta and Kutila inscriptions and James Princep who decoded the Brahmi script.
The outcome of the researches and the interest generated by the work carried out by the Asiatic Society led to the appointment of Alexander Cunningham as the Archaeological Surveyor entrusted with the work of surveying the monuments of north India in November 1861. Cunnigham extensively surveyed the area extending from the Himalayan Terai on the trail of the great Chinese travellers Fa-Hien and Hiuen-Tsang and successfully located a number of sites and identified them with the ancient cities and places referred to in the historical literature. Despite the general appreciation of his work the then Government abruptly terminated Cunningham's appointment and abolished the Archaeological Survey of India. However, after a gap of about four years, the Government reestablished the Archaeological Survey of India to provide impetus to archaeological research in the whole country. Cunningham was once again placed at the helm of affairs as the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India. Under his leadership a large area of the country was surveyed extensively and the location of Srawasti and Kausambi could be incontrovertibly established. The discovery of the great stupa of Bharhut also goes to his credit. After a long and illustrious service Cunningham retired in 1885. James Burgees, his successor, surveyed South India, the Kathiawad, Kutch and Andhra Pradesh, besides studying the cave temples of the Deccan.
Sir John Marshall, who was appointment Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India in 1902, and remained on this post for about 28 years, formulated definitive principles for archaeological investigations, conservation of monuments and sites and other archaeological works. During his tenure the sites of Mohenjodaro and Harappa were excavated leading to the discovery of the advanced urban settlement in the Indus Valley akin to those in the valleys of Dazla-Frat and the Nile.
It was Mortimer Wheeler who took over charge of the Director General of the ASI in 1944 and although he remained there for only four years he revolutionised every sphere of archaeological activity in India. He introduced the theory of stratigraphy, established a School of Archaeology to train archaeologists and commenced the publication of a research journal 'Ancient India'. His most significant and lasting contribution was the approach he developed for archaeological surveys and excavations, one that was planned, well disciplined and objective oriented, almost like a military campaign.
The most important development of the post independence period was that the Indian Universities and other Institutions joined archaeological researches in a big way. During this period many illustrious Indian Archaeologists such as A. Ghosh, B.B. Lal, B.K. Thapar, M.N. Deshpande, M.S. Nagarajarao, J.P. Joshi and M.C. Joshi headed the ASI. At the same time mention must be made of stalwarts like H.D. Sankalia of Deccan College, G.R. Sharma of the Allahabad University, R.N. Mehta of Baroda University, C.S. Das of Calcutta University, etc. who took over the leadership of archaeological investigations being carried out under their respective institutions. Another important development of this period was the establishment of State Archaeological Organisations in most of the states. All these institutions have substantially contributed to the development of archaeology in India during the fifty years since Independence. Thousands of hitherto unknown archaeological sites have been located and hundreds of them have been subjected to excavations. The summary reports of the outcome of these works have appeared in the various issues of the 'Indian Archaeology: A Review', an annual publication of the ASI. Detailed reports on some of these works are also available. These works have provided a vast resource to researchers for the reconstruction of history, particularly in respect of material, which is not available from standard literary sources.
After Independence, on the recommendations of the committee, constituted by the Government of U.P., under the chairmanship of the then Education Minister Dr. Sampurnanand, the State Archaeology Department was established in the year 1951. Dr. K.D. Bajpai was appointed Archaeological Officer to head this institution. The main tasks / objectives mandated for this institution were to undertake archaeological explorations, to conserve and protect ancient monuments and sites, to publish archaeological literature and to create public awareness about archaeology. The office of the Archaeological Officer was established in a rented building in Arya Nagar, Lucknow. During his short tenure of eighteen months, Dr. Bajpai contributed over fifty articles and delivered numerous enriching lectures on the subject. The Department of Archaeology, however, lost its independent status in 1953 when the responsibility to carry out its work was transferred to the State Museum, Lucknow and its office was shifted there.
It was only in 1958-59 that the Department of Archaeology could once again regain its independent status. Till 1965, its operations were under the charge of an Archaeological Engineer. Thereafter, once again an Archaeological Officer was appointed to head the department. The post of Archaeological Officer was converted to the post of Director in 1974. During this period the office of the department shifted to the office complex in Jawahar Bhawan, Lucknow. The first Regional Archaeological Unit was established in Srinagar, Garhwal (Uttaranchal), which was later shifted to Almora. The Lucknow office was transferred to Rosan-ud-daula Kothi a 150 year old building. It was built by Rosan-ud-daula a minister of Nawab Nasirud-din Haidar. Subsequently more regional units came into existence at Pauri, Jhansi, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Agra and Allahabad. To provide greater impetus to its activities the status of this institution was elevated to an independent Directorate under the Department of Culture during 1996.
Numerous explorations and excavations have been undertaken in different regions of the state during the last over more than three decades. During this relatively short span the volume and quantity of these works compare favourably with other institutions in the country. The Directorate has carried out extensive explorations in the Himalayan regions, north Vindhyan hills of Baghelkhand and Bundelkhand, central Uttar Pradesh, (around Naimisharanya, Lucknow, Musanagar in district Kanpur Dehat), and the Sarayupar region. Apart from this several excavations of cardinal importance have also been carried out in other parts of the State. Over 150 painted rock shelters in north Vindhyas have been reported. The antiquity of human activity in the Yamuna Valley at around 45 000 yr. before present, commencement of rice cultivation in the Sarayupar region in 7th-6th millennium BC, and use of iron in the central Ganga Plain and north Vindhyas around 1800 BC, are some of the notable findings. Hundreds of proto-historic, early-historic, and later sites comprising of innumerable antiquarian remains of old temples, sculptures, potsherds, inscriptions have led to findings which have far reaching implications. Most of these results have been published in the Directorate's annual research journal, Pragdhara, which has been under publication since 1990. Within this short span this Journal has come to be recognised as also one of the leading archaeological journals of the country.
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