History of Archaeology – 4

Robert Bruce Foote;

  • The development of principles of stratigraphy in Geology in Europe also received some impetus in India. The surveyors in the Geological Survey took an intensive survey in documenting geological wealth and natural resources of India. Although prehistoric studies were neglected and remained in isolation, the efforts of Robert   Bruce Foote paid much dividend in pushing the data of Indian archaeology many million years back. Foot served in the Geological Survey of India between 1858 and 1891, collected the first Paleolithic tool in a gravel pit at pellagra, near Madras in 1863. Foot found over 450 prehistoric sites in southern India and thereby brought out the richness of Indian prehistoric   All his collections were housed in the Madras Museum and he catalogued and published them (in 1914) in two volumes entitled The Foot Collection of Indian Prehistoric and Protohistoric Antiquities. His contribution to prehistory was duly acknowledged by calling him as the Father of Indian Prehistory.

John Marshall:

  • It was only in 1901, at the personal interest of the Victory Lord George Nathaniel Curzon , the Archaeological survey was reorganized the young archaeologist John Hubert Marshall was appointed as Director-General on 20th November  1901 and arrived in India in February 1902. Marshall dominated Indian archaeology for three decades and during his tenure, the archaeological work in India was placed on firm foot. The enunciation of the basic principles and techniques of conservation, attention of the specialized studies of sites and other archaeological themes, excavation of early historic sites and above all appointing Indian scholars in superior posts of Archaeological  Survey opened up a new era in the field of Indian archaeology. During his tenure, the important legislation called Ancient Monuments and Preservation Act 1904 was enacted. Exploration, excavation and conservation work took a definite shape. The greatest discovery at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro of the Indus civilization was made. The two Indian scholars Diya Ram Shaanxi and R.D. Banerjee respectively did the spadework in 1921 and 1922 at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.  The excavation at Taxila, Sravasti, Vaisali, Rajagriha, Sarnath, Sanchi, Pataliputra and Nalanda provide much – needed information in Buddhist studies.
  • Besides, the work at Adichchanallur in Tamil Nadu by Alexander Rea and a Nagarjunakonda in Andhra Pradesh by A.H. Longhurst strengthened the activities in Deep South. However, the impact of First World War also felt in Indian archaeological studies. The financial crisis faced by different agencies of the government organization slowed down their research activities. The recovery of global economy was again seen in the revival of archaeological activities , particularly in the middle of the 20th century