History of Archaeology – 3

Alexander Cunningham:

  • Among Prinsep’s colleagues, the notable on was a young military engineer Sir Alexander Cunningham. He came to India at the age of 18. In 1861, he became the first Archaeological Surveyor of the Archaeological Survey established under the Governor Generalship of Lord Canning. His primary concern was historical archaeology. During his tenure, the works of two major Chinese pilgrims Faxian (Fa-Hien) and Xuanzang (Hiuen-Tsang) was translated into French and published in 1830.
  • He realised the importance of these accounts. Using this Taxila, Sravasti, Kausambi and Barhut, all related to Buddhism.
  • He was responsible for the publication of the first volume of Corpus Inscriptionum indicarum in 1877.
  • After Cunningham, James Burgess and James Fergusson, a Scottish businessman, coordinated the archaeological work. They were mostly interested in architectural surveys. James Burgess brought out the two important archaeological publications Indian Antiquary in 1872 and Epigraphia Indica. In addition to this, he brought out twenty volumes of Archaeological Survey of India, New Imperial Series. Fergusson believed that the religion, art and civilization of India could be understood by studying architecture. He undertook extensive architectural surveys and classified the monuments as Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Islamic. Due to financial crunch, the archaeological work could not move beyond certain level.
  • John Faithful Fleet was appointed as Epigraphist in 1883 and Hultzsch as the Epigraphist for South India.


  • They made important contribution by publishing the inscription with their scholarly notes. Likewise, Meadows Taylor, serving under Nizam of Hyderabad, excavated number of megalithic tombs in Deccan. His work at Jiwarji and subsequent publications for his time.