Interpretation of Archaeological Resource| UPSC Important Notes & Study Material

Notes By-
Sachin Gupta
Cleared UPSC 2017 with AIR-3


The purpose of this block is to introduce the students to early urbanization in the
Indian subcontinent, the cultural resources and its management. It is divided
into three units, which deal with early urbanization, applied aspects and cultural
resources. The first urbanization of the subcontinent was brought to light through
the accidental discovery of the sites of Harappa and Mohenjodaro. Subsequent
archaeological excavations at these places followed by explorations and excavations
within its neighbouring and distant regions made us understand the intricacies
of the Indus Valley Civilizations, its rise, internal developments and fall. These
works have resulted in situating Indus Valley Civilization in the global context
and brought India within the global map of Ancient World Civilizations. Although
termed commonly as Indus valley Civilization, it is also known through the names
Harappan Culture/ Harappan Civilization or Indus – Saraswati Civilization. The
sites datable to the Harappan civilization exhibit an enormous degree of uniformity
and at the same time diversity with regards to its features and other characteristics
depending on the region it is found. It may be noted that the sites of this
Civilization are spread out in the northwestern frontiers of modern India, whole
of Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan. More than ninety years of research on the
Harappan civilization are focused on their town planning, crafts, trade, script,
economy, agriculture, society, water management systems and religion. Some of
its details are highlighted in this unit. The full picture of this civilization however
remains unknown and the arena of Harappan remains are open for further research
and discussion. The second unit dealing with applied aspects speaks on the
importance of cultural heritage and the need to conserve them. It throws light on
the various excavated sites important for the antiquity of Indian Civilization and
the need to preserve and conserve the ever diminishing heritage, monuments

and cultural assemblages. The third unit on cultural resources and its management
emphasises on the importance of interpreting archaeological record so as to
promote the importance of cultural heritage and promote cultural tourism. This
unit also demonstrates how knowledge of archaeology aids in understanding the
cultural heritage and in turn helps in promoting tourism and heritage walks.
Tourism today is considered to be one of the major sources for generating revenue.
Economies of certain nation states today such as Sri Lanka, Singapore and Puerto
Rico are entirely dependent on tourism. Interpretation of archaeological record
also plays a significant role in understanding societal formations, town planning
etc. As archaeological records throw light on basic features of ancient civilizations,
it also works as a model for present day architects, political and social thinkers
towards building our future. It further aims to educate the readers about the
organisations working for the preservation of cultural heritage and the importance
of heritage sites and archaeological records. In addition, it also tends to understand
the relationship between cultural heritage and the citizens of the same cultural
zone. On the basis of this attachment, degree of preservation and conservation
can also be understood.
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Origin and Extent
1.3 Ecological Setting
1.4 Chronology
1.5 Origin and Development of the Harappan Culture
1.6 The Harappan Urbanization and Standardization (2500-2000BC)
1.7 Religion
1.8 The Harappan Society and Polity
1.9 Decline of the Harappan Civilization
1.10 Summary
Suggested Reading
Sample Questions
Learning Objectives
After having studied this unit, you should be able to:
Ø discuss the characteristics of Civilization;
Ø understand the Harappan Culture as early civilization in Indian sub-continent;
Ø describe the rise and fall of Harappan Civilization; and
Ø discuss the continuity of the Harappan tradition in modern India.
The period between the Stone Age and the Early Historic period was considered
to be the “Dark Age” in Indian History. However, the discovery of the Harappan
Civilization, the first Bronze Age Culture of South Asia, in the twenties of
twentieth century pushed back the antiquity of the settled life in India by two
thousand years at one stroke. This was considered to be the greatest archaeological
discovery of the twentieth century in the Indian subcontinent. The development
and spread of agriculture and pastoralism in South Asia are complex phenomena
that have taken place over the course of more than 9000 years. “First light on a
long forgotten Civilization” was probably the first reference to the discovery of
the today well known “Harappan Civilization” of the Indian Sub-continent by
John Marshall in his article in the Illustrated London News dated September 20th
1924 to the western world. However, today this Urban Civilization known for
its unique town planning, script, trade contacts with the Mesopotamians, well
developed craft techniques etc. is the focus of popular academic debate not just
within the sub-continent but international academic circles especially since even
today we have not been able to decipher their writings.
The earliest excavations and scholars (Mackay, 1928-29; Marshall, 1931; Vats,
1940) interpreted the rise of the Harappans as a result of a Near Eastern or external
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
stimulus based on simple diffusion models (Fairservis, 1956; Gordon and Gordon,
1940; Piggott, 1950; Sankalia, 1974; Wheeler, 1947, 1968). However, today
ideas of indigenous development (Durrani, 1986; Jarrige and Meadow, 1980;
Mughal, 1974b; Shaffer, 1982b) as a result of regional interactions among the
existing earlier groups of people is believed to be the cause for the development
of this civilization covering an area of 2.5 million sq. km nearly four times the
size of its contemporary Mesopotamian and Egyptian Civilizations. The
northernmost site is Manda on the River Beas in Jammu while Bhagtrav on the
Tapti in Maharashtra forms its southern boundary. Alamgirpur on the Hindon
river near Delhi and Sutkagendor on the Arabian sea shore near the Iranian border
form its eastern and western periphery respectively. Today the Harappans are
believed to be a complex of many ethnic groups (Mughal, 1990; Possehl, 1982,
1990b; Shaffer and Lichtenstein, 1989; Thapar, 1979), representing several
cultural identities with large regional urban centers like Harappa (Punjab), Mohenjodaro
(Sindh), Rakhigarhi (Haryana), Dholavira (Kutch/Gujarat) and
Ganweriwala (Cholistan) (Fig. 1.1) supported by numerable craft centers, and
smaller village settlements practicing agriculture which supported this urban
and international trading economy.
Fig. 1.1: Map showing the spread of the Bronze Age (Harappan) Culture of South Asia
and the locations of important sites
Early Urbanization
The Indus valley civilization was first discovered and recorded in the 1800s
by a British army deserter, James Lewis.
The environmental setting of the Harappan Civilization includes two major river
systems and its flood plains, the Indus and the Ghaggar-Hakra (now dry); the
highlands and plateaus of Baluchistan to the west, and the mountainous regions
of northern Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India to the northwest and north. These
geographical regions include highlands and lowlands, coasts and interior with
distribution of land suitable for agriculture and pastoralism, the location of specific
resources the procurement of which influenced the patterns of social and economic
interaction and helped define social status.
The Harappan culture cannot be studied as a homogeneous cultural phenomena
as the cultural assemblages are varied, and include the Pre/Early-Harappan
between 3500-2500 BC; Mature Harappan between 2500-2000 BC and the Post/
Late Harappan after 2000 BC. A date of 2600 B.C. marks the approximate
beginning of the urban fabric of the Harappans with the unification of the urban
settlements, the use of writing, weights, Harappan-type ceramic designs, civic
planning, etc. and is believed to have disintegrated by 2100-1900 B.C. (Shaffer,
The earlier hypothesis that the Mesopotamian civilization that flourished in the
confluence of Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq was directly responsible for the
origins of the Harappan Civilization is no more valid. The excavations carried
out at the site of Mehrgarh at the Bolan pass in Baluchistan in seventies and
eighties have produced sufficient evident to indicate that the origin is indigenous
in the Indian subcontinent. There has been a gradual growth from the beginning
of settled life at Mehrgarh around 7000 BC, which ultimately culminated in the
formation of the Harappan Civilization. At Mehrgarh, seven developmental stages
have been identified and in each stage is evident introduction of some Harappan
The favourable climatic conditions, strong agricultural base in the Indus and
Ghaggar and Hakra basins and Saurashtra, rich sea-coast and desert for natural
resources were responsible for the development of the Harappan culture. Also
the society was becoming ready for such a change.
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
The urban or the mature Harappan Phase includes a wide range of urban and
non-urban rural sites that are varied in size and function but are inherently known
for several features like the town planning with defensive walls with impressive
gates around the site, two or more divisions of the settlement at the site, drains,
baked brick structures, brick size (4:2:1 ratio), pottery, script, similarity in craft
products and techniques (etched carnelian beads, copper-bronze artefacts, lithic
blades), seals, weights and measures, evidence of external trade etc which help
identify and denote them as a Harappan settlement irrespective of their size or
urban/rural character. Some of these features have been touched upon in the
following section.
Town planning
From excavated remains, it is clear that the Harappan Civilization possessed a
flourishing urban architecture laid out on a grid pattern with provisions for an
advanced drainage system and the most important innovation was the
standardization of the bricks in a size ratio very close to 4:2:1. The citadel, defense
walls, dams etc prove to the existence of monumental architecture. MohenjoDaro,
Harappa, Rakhigarhi and Dholavira were by far the largest urban centers
of the Indus civilization evidently as important political and administrative
regional centers. The metropolitan centers were internally divided into two or
more parts: the Citadel for rulers and the Lower Town for the common people.
The private houses were oriented towards a central space, with access from the
street by an entrance that blocks the view of the interior of the house. A group of
houses are associated with one or more private wells and approximately 700
wells have been identified in the core area of Mohenjodaro (Jansen, 1989). The
number of wells and their association with neighbourhoods could indicate a need
for discrete and relatively private water sources.
The large public structures have open access or provide a thoroughfare from one
area of the site to another like the “Great Bath” of Mohenjodaro, and the
“granaries” at Mohenjodaro and Harappa. The “Great Bath” is a large, waterproof
tank but its exact purpose remains unknown. The so-called granaries at
Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Lothal are today massive foundation platforms for
a superstructure no longer evident.
The cities and smaller settlements also had carefully designed and well maintained
drainage systems. Wells and bathing platforms were lined with bricks, and small
drains carried water away from the wells or living area to larger street drains
(Fig. 1.2). The street drains were equipped with sump-pits and the streets had
bins for non-liquid waste, which was presumably collected and dumped outside
the settlement.
Early Urbanization
Fig. 1.2: Recent evidence of town planning excavated at the site of Farmana in Haryana
State of India
The sites were laid out on a rectangular grid of main streets and smaller lanes
with an efficient drainage system. The grid-like arrangement of the streets and the
stark uniformity of the houses suggest rigid state control, the first instance of town
planning in the world. Such a layout is not indicative of a town that has developed
from village beginnings; rather, it is the sign of a newly conceived, or relocated,
settlement (c.f. Gupta, 1997). The citadel was raised on high mud platforms and its
architectural units may have functioned like a palace complex combining the
functions of defense stronghold, meeting place, storage area, ceremonial centre,
and perhaps the site of community feasting. In the major cities a defensive wall
made of mud-brick protected the citadel and often the lower towns as shown by
the excavations at Dholavira (Bisht, 1993; Gupta, 1997).
Subsistence and Economy
The economy was largely based on agriculture, animal husbandry and trade with
specialised exchange networks for the procurement and distribution of raw
materials and manufactured items within and beyond the civilization in existence.
All the evidence indicates that the subsistence base of the economy remained
much as it had already developed at Mehrgarh some two millennia earlier. The
Harappan civilization apparently evolved from their predecessors, using irrigated
agriculture with sufficient skill to reap the advantages of the spacious and fertile
Indus River basin while controlling the formidable annual flood that
simultaneously fertilizes and destroys (Kenoyer, 1991).
Even though most settlements were located in semi-arid areas with winter rainfall
their wealth was based on a subsistence economy of wheat and barley. These
winter crops, together with chickpeas, mustard, and field peas, were the staples.
The other crops grown were rice, dates, melons, green vegetables (primarily
legumes), and cotton. Cotton, a summer crop, was grown for fibre. The Harappans
cultivated a variety of grains and harvested two crops a year. Fishing and hunting
supplemented the diet. The Harappans developed an elaborate water management
system and at the site of Dholavira in Kutch a network of dams, canals and
reservoirs were used to manage the meagre and crucial water resources (Bisht,
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
The Harappan civilization boomed with industrial activity and a wide range of
mineral resources were worked at various sites notably marine shells, ivory,
carnelian, steatite, faience, lapis lazuli, gold, and silver. Craftsmen made items
for household use (pottery and tools), for public life (seals), and for personal
ornament (bangles, beads, and pendants) for elite markets and long-distance trade.
The crafts were seen as producing standardized artifacts that were distributed
throughout the Indus region. Often there is evidence of specialised crafts being
segregated in specific sites (Shortugai, a lapis lazuli mining and processing center,
Nageshwar, a shell-working site) and also specific areas of the sites (Chanhudaro
had many groups of artisans involved in the production of elite status items
such as seals, long carnelian beads and copper objects). The standardization of
crafts is attributed to centralised control of production, organised by a state-level
organisation (Piggott, 1950; Wheeler, 1968) or the result of a conservative
ideology (Fairservis, 1984a; Miller, 1985).
Terracotta Art
Harappan pottery is perhaps the finest in India and is betokening of the
achievement of the Harappan potter. It is made of extremely fine, well-levigated
clay, free from impurities, and is uniformly well fired. The surface is treated
with a red slip over which designs are executed in black. The painted patterns
are rich in variety and the characteristic ones include intersecting circles, fish
scales, the pipal leaf, etc. but the bulk of the pottery is plain. Typical Mature
Harappan shapes include S-shaped jars, the dish-on-stand and perforated
cylindrical jars.
Terracotta figurines of humans and animals are an important part of the cultural
assemblage of a Harappan site along with beads.
Copper/Bronze Metallurgy
Use of copper and bronze for shaping tools, vessels and ornaments was a
characteristic feature of the Harappans. Most of the artifacts found are tools of
everyday use such as axes, adzes, knives fish hooks, chisels (Fig. 1.3) including
pots and pans and items of personal use such as jewellery in form of bangles,
beads, diadem strips, while relatively few weapons of war have been found. Though
the technique of manufacture of these objects is advanced, we do not witness any
elaborate ornamental decorative aspects to these items and were at large of a
simplistic and modest style probably very typical to the Harappan ideology.
Fig.1.3. Some of the copper/bronze artefacts of the Bronze Age Culture
Interestingly most copper artifacts have been found at larger and economically Early Urbanization
developed settlements in comparison to small agricultural settlements which
indicates that it was not in popular use and could have been a symbol of wealth
and status. However, most copper artifacts including ornaments and vessels have
been found in a non-hoard context which include burials (out of 168 total copper/
bronze ornaments 130 were found in non-hoard context) as against other metal
objects especially gold and silver (largely hoards and catches), though some
copper vessels and beads in hoards cannot be ignored completely. Also the amount
of copper/bronze artifacts found at Harappan sites (burial, on sites and hoards) is
much less in comparison to the contemporary civilizations, probably as an object
of scarce availability and a symbol of wealth and status it was passed over from
one generation to another and also recycled as is the case today in the region
(Agrawal, 2007).
The source for this copper has yet not been identified but the Khetri mines on the
Aravalli is the most plausible option. Some scholars have also identified the
copper mines in northern and southern Baluchistan, Afghan Seistan as an
important source since the Harappans seem to have established flourishing trade
relations with the Helmand tradition of this region. The Oman peninsula with
evidence of Harappan artifacts and short term Harappan settlements is a candidate
for the source of Harappan copper as well. Agrawal (2007) considers the Aravallis
as the most likely source for the Harappans especially as the Ganeshwar complex
sites have yielded more than 5000 copper objects, with some typical Harappan
types like thin blades, arrow-heads etc. Besides Mesopotamians imported copper
from Melluha which is traditionally identified as the Indus region and hence the
idea of a local source holds stronger ground than import from an outside source
though the other mentioned sources could also have been tapped for recasting,
fabricating and then export to Mesopotamia. However, Kenoyer and Miller argue
that there is no direct evidence of Harappan phase mines or smelting sites in the
Aravalli copper source areas, even though the area has been explored by numerous
scholars (Piggot, 1999) and hence we are still at no particular consensus as far as
the source for Harappan copper is concerned.
The Harappans are referred to as a Bronze Age culture, though they seemed to
have preferred use of pure copper since a larger repertory of the artifacts are
made of pure copper. Copper alloying though was a common aspect of metallurgy
within the contemporary civilizations of the Harappans, only 30% of the 177
copper artifacts analysed from Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro indicate tin, arsenic,
nickel or lead alloying, of which tin is the most common. The amount of tin
ranged from 1-12% in the bronze artifacts studied.
The manufacture of copper/bronze objects involves two- three levels of industry.
The first and the foremost is obtaining the metal from its ore through smelting
for which we do not have any direct evidence in form of slag or the ore at either,
the settlement sites or at the Khetri mines the so-called source for Harappan
copper. Hence, right from the outset we are at a loss for the source of this metal
and it has to be put forth that most likely the Harappans obtained the metal from
outside as ingots which could be worked by casting through melting and shaping
the molten metal through a stone, terracotta or sand mould or direct fabricating
or forging and shaping the metal through heating and beating techniques. There
is evidence of plano-convex disc shaped ingots with an uneven puckered top
surface from Mohenjodaro, Chanhudaro, Harappa and Lothal which it seems
was further worked by the copper smiths for producing the objects required.
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
A detailed analysis of the copper artifacts indicate that the Harappans were aware
of the lost wax process or cire perdue as the two dancing figurines and a covered
cart without its wheels and another complete with the driver from Chanhudaro
are manufactured using this closed casting technique. According to Mackay
(1938), a large number of blade axes were manufactured using closed casting
technique and “were so faulty and full of blow holes as to be unusable except for
re-melting”. However the absence of moulds at any site except Lothal (not
accepted by Agrawal, 2007) is suggested as a result of use of sand based moulds
which disintegrate when exposed to nature and hence create a vacuum in the
archaeological context.
Several other objects especially the flat celts and axes indicate open mould casting
with slow and controlled cooling of the cast metal.
However the maximum objects are of the forged category which is basically the
shaping and modification of non-molten metal using the force of a hammer on
hot or cold metal. Forging helps shape and hardens the objects and hence is an
important aspect of manufacture of edged tools of every day and industrial use,
which are the most common finds at Harappan sites (of 521 objects for
Chanhudaro, 645 are tools, 26% are ornaments, 7% were vessels and 3% percent
included the miscellaneous objects). The most common example is the Harappan
chisel which was forged from a cast copper bars, while thin razors were cut from
copper sheets and then forged to form a sharp cutting edge. Most of the copper
vessels were also manufactured by beating the copper sheet into the required
Besides copper the Harappans worked with gold, silver and lead as is exhibited
from the artifactual evidence.
Gujarat was one of the main centres for production of shell objects from the
Turbinella Pyrum which was cut and worked using a bronze saw. Nageshwar,
Bagasra, Kuntasi etc have been identified as important shell working centres for
procuring raw material and processing finished goods like bangles, beads,
pendants, decorative inlay pieces, spoons and ladles etc.
Various types of stone was worked for different purposes which varied from
lithic tools made of chert and chalcedony, seals carved of steatite for public
utility to objects of personnel use especially ornaments like beads, bangles
pendants etc made of, technologically altered and transformed materials like
faience, carnelian, paste. Some of this was not only for the local but the
international market as well since Harappan carnelian beads have been found at
the royal cemetery of Ur.
The Harappans and their crafts have been identified as a technologically
innovative group with an indifference towards the regular precious stones like
lapis and turquoise. Jarrige sums up their attitude by saying that “they didn’t like
them because they couldn’t play with them” (Agrawal, 2007:323) while Vidale
goes on to say “ the Indus people are noteworthy of their cultural expression of
not power of conquering, but rather power of creating; from abstract universe
created in their urban organisation to artificial stone of their microbeads ”
(Agrawal, 2007:323).
Trade Early Urbanization
The evidence for trade/exchange is primarily artifacts made from raw materials
with regionally restricted sources, such as marine shell, agate, carnelian, lapis
lazuli, turquoise, coloured cherts and jaspers, serpentine, steatite and copper.
Transport of objects was probably overland by human porters, cattle carts, and
on the backs of sheep, goat, cattle etc. The locations of major settlements were
related to the importance of riverine or sea transport as is the case with settlements
like Lothal, Balakot, Sutkagendor etc. (Ratnagar, 1981; Jansen, 1989).
Evidence from sites in Mesopotamia suggests that the Harappans (Meluhha)
exported wood, shell, ivory, gold, decorated carnelian beads, lapis lazuli and
perishable items like textiles, cotton and food grains; and much of this trade
would have been routed via the Gujarat coast due to its strategic location at the
delta of the Indus River. Other goods found are indicative of the trade networks
include gold from southern India or Afghanistan, silver and copper from Oman
or Rajasthan, lapis lazuli from Afghanistan and turquoise from Iran and
Afghanistan. It is believed that trade existed between Egypt and the Harappans
on the basis of two terracotta mummies from Lothal. Also the blue colour used
by the Egyptians is said to have come from Indigo cultivated in India (Zarins,
1992), evidence of which is found at Rojdi. Trade with the west seem to have
received a major boost around 2300-2200 BC, and this is when the Harappans
set-up small industrial centres all along the resource and coastal regions for
promoting their trade. However by 1900 BC trade with Mesopotamia started to
decline and by 1700 it had completely disappeared (Dhavalikar, 1997). The
presence of cubical weights of precise measures and impressions of seals
(sealings) also point to a well-developed and structured system of trade with
control and distribution methods. The well developed though undeciphered script
was probably also an integral part of this network.
The Harappan script
The urban Harappans can be easily differentiated from their predecessors and
successors on the basis of their use of writing which was used for identification
of ownership of goods or economic transactions, accounting, the recording of
socio-political or ritual events (Fairservis, 1983; Parpola, 1986). The origins of
this writing system is not clear and till date has not been deciphered due to the
lack of a bilingual text and also because the inscriptions are very short, usually
only of about five discrete symbols (Parpola, 1979).
However this has not restricted academic debate and linguists suggest affinities
with Proto-Dravidian or Indo-Aryan language (Fairservis, 1983; Parpola, 1986)
without any consensus or proof. Though now it is generally agreed that writing
was from right to left and is most commonly found on the intaglio seals, made of
carved and fired steatite, steatite, clay or faience tablets and numerous incised
tools and ornaments and often on pottery before or after firing, stamped on pottery,
terra-cotta cakes or terra-cotta cones (Joshi and Parpola, 1987).
These writings or symbols regardless of its understanding by the modern scholars
do represent a shared belief and ideology that was distributed over an extremely
large area which was undoubtedly a key factor in the integration of the urban and
rural populations spread over varied ecological settings.
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
Wheeler (1968) emphasised that religious and secular activities were indivisible
concepts, and this fact applies not just to ancient past but even today as can be
often seen from the religious symbolism of modern Indian sub-continent. Even
today several tools and toys used in secular form acquire a “ritual status” with
changing contexts. Many objects and symbols have been seen as representing
Harappan “religious” beliefs and practices and include seals, horned male deities,
Mother Goddess figurines, fire-altars, etc. However all attempts to correlate these
objects and scenes to Indian mythology and religion or to the contemporary
Mesopotamian religious belief have failed due to lack of deciphered text (Allchin,
1985; Ashfaque, 1989; Dhavalikar and Atre, 1989; Fairservis, 1975, 1984b;
Parpola, 1984, 1988).
Religious traditions and beliefs are also witnessed in the death rituals and
Harappan burials also indicate localised patterns (Kennedy and Caldwell, 1984).
The cemeteries are small and do not appear to represent the entire society, hence,
it is possible that certain groups practiced burial while others used cremation or
exposure while variation in the mode of burial and the quantity of grave goods
also indicate difference of social and religious norms.
Wheeler (1968) had put forth local cults and a state religion) n, which is similar
to what he witnessed in the living traditions of numerable local cults and a larger
religious ideology indicating a pantheon which is-all inclusive. Fairservis (1986)
proposed that cities such as Mohenjodaro were primarily ceremonial centers and
that “religion” was an integrating factor using a complex system of shared beliefs
and rituals legitimizing the economic and political control.
It is still impossible to do more than a guess about the social organisation or the
political and administrative control implied by this vast area of cultural uniformity.
The evidence of widespread trade in many commodities, the apparent uniformity
of weights and measures, the common script, and the almost common currencyof
seals, all indicate some measure of political and economic control probably
originating from the large regional centres. The presence of status objects
throughout the Indus region indicates a strong socio-political and religious system
of beliefs that demanded and prompted the acquisition and use of such items. A
sufficient supply would have been ensured by economic networks and the spread
of specialised artisans and technologies to major sites and interestingly there is
no evidence for acquisition by force which is obvious in the near absence of
weapons of war. The acquisition of exotic goods must be seen as the accumulation
of grain or livestock surplus – in an increasing status differentiation between
those who have and those who have not.
There is no clear idea about the composition of Harappan population in spite of
the fact that a number of their grave-yards have been excavated. The sites like
Harappan, Kalibangan, Rakhigarhi, Lothal, Farmana (Shinde et al. 2009) (Fig.
1.4) have produced separate cemeteries, but due to lack of sufficient scientific
analyses such as DNA, Isotope and Trace Element, etc features like genetic
aspects, health and dietary habits of the people are not sufficiently known yet.
However, social stratification is evident in their burials.
Early Urbanization
Fig.1.4: Burials of the Bronze Age culture excavated at the largest Necropolis discovered
at Farmana, Haryana State of India
The decline of the Harappan civilization commenced from around 2000 BC.
Wheeler had hypothesized in sixties on the basis of human skeletal remains in
the upper levels at Mohenjodaro that the Harappans were massacred by the Aryan
god Indra. However, subsequent scientific studies on the human skeletal data
revealed no injury marks and hence his theory was discarded. Recent research
on this aspect revealed that climatic factor was the most important for the decline
of the Harappan Civilization. The data on rainfall pattern gathered from all over
the globe clearly indicated that the climate had gone dry considerably, which
affected their agriculture. The Ghaggar/Hakra, the most important river for the
Harappans, went dry and the Harappans had to move away from the river banks to
the inland areas. The Indus river was blocked near the site of Mohenjodaro creating
huge pools around, which buried its most of the satellite settlements. The sea level
went down considerably which rendered most of the Harappan ports useless
affecting severely its international trade with Persian Gulf and Mesopotamia. All
these factors combinely led the downfall of the Harappan Civilization.
After the downfall, the Harappan culture disintegrated and broke into a number
of small local cultures. They continued the Harappan tradition upto 1500 BC.
The Harappans almost deserted the core region and began to move towards the
periphery part. In UP, they came in contact with the local OCP culture, in Central
India with Malwa and in the Deccan with the Jorwe culture. Slowly but surely,
they became part of the culture they came in contact with. However, the Harappan
elements survived through these cultures to the modern times. The Harappan
legacy is evident in their structures, agricultural technology, food habits, etc. A
modern house in Punjab and Haryana is based on a typical Harappan plan. The
shapes of the modern vessels used by the farmers are similar to that of the
Harappans, the only difference being in the medium. The agricultural tools used
today are based on the Harappan tools. This clearly suggests that though the
Harappan culture has disappeared their legacy has still survived.
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
To sum up, a short survey of the Harappan cultural material indicates a sufficiently
advanced socio-economic and technological fabric capable of developing a
complex economic infrastructure and political organisation which involved
international relations. As technologically and economically advanced people
they were able to expand into a number of ecozones with different environmental
variables and economic potential as shown by the location of most of the sites in
areas of importance such as resource areas or on trade routes. The Harappans
were traders par excellence, which to a certain extent formed the basis of their
urbanised status through trade contacts.
Suggested Reading
Agrawal, D.P. (2007). The Indus Civilization an Interdisciplinary Perspective,
New Delhi: Aryan books International.
Bisht, R.S. 1993. Harappan Civilization in Recent Perspective ed. G.L Possehl,
New Delhi: Oxford and IBH Publications.
Fairservis, W. A. 1975. The Roots of Ancient India. (2nd ed., revised). Chicago:
Univ. of Chicago Press.
Gupta SP, 1996. The Indus-Saraswati Civilisation, Origins, Problems and Issues.
New Delhi: Pratibha Prakashan.
Kenoyer, J. M. 1991. Ornament Styles of the Indus Tradition. Paper presented at
the American Committee for South Asian Art, Washington, D.C.
Possehl GL, 2003. Indus Civilization a Contemporary Perspective, New York:
Alta Mira Press.
Ratnagar, S. 1981. Encounters, The Westerly Trade of the Harappa Civilization.
Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Sample Questions
1) Discuss the factors responsible for the origins and growth of First
Urbanization in South Asia.
2) Describe the distribution of the Early Harappan Cultures in northwest India.
3) Evaluate various theories about the Origins of the Harappan Civilization
and the evidence from the site of Mehrgarh.
4) What is a Civilization? Discuss various characteristic features of a
5) “SorathHarappan” in Saurashtra is a regional manifestation of the Harappan
Culture. Discuss elaborately.
6) Describe various phases of the Harappan Culture based on the excavations
at the site of Harappa.
7) Discuss the Harappan hinterland trade and trade mechanism.
8) Describe the Harappan burial custom with special reference to the evidence
from the site of Farmana.
9) “Harappan international trade was one of the most important factors for the Early Urbanization
development of the culture”. Discuss.
10) What are various theories about the decipherment of the Harappan script?
Discuss the recent theory in detail.
11) How do you compare Harappan Religon with their counterparts in
Mesopotamia and Egypt?
12) Elaborate on the functional aspects of Harappan seals and weights.
13) Discuss classical Harappan pottery from technological and functional point
of view.
14) Evaluate the evidence from Harappan sites in respect to the Socio/political
15) What are the causes and consequences of the decline of the Harappan
16) Discuss the characteristic features and settlements of the Late Harappan
culture of Gujarat.
17) “The Harappan Legacy continues till the modern times”. Elaborate.
18) Discuss the interaction between the Harappans and their contemporaries the
Chaclolithic cultures.
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Applied Archaeology
2.3 Cultural Heritage: Values and Identities
2.4 Conservation and Preservation of Cultural Heritage
2.5 Laws, Charters, Conventions, Declarations and Recommendations
2.6 Role of International Organisations in Preservation of Cultural Heritage:
2.7 World Heritage Sites
2.8 Cultural Heritage and Tourism
2.9 Ethics of Archaeological Tourism
2.10 Visitors, Infrastructure and Management
2.11 Sustainable Tourism
2.12 Summary
Suggested Reading
Sample Questions
Learning Objectives
Once you have studied this unit, you should be able to
Ø define the nature of “Applied Archaeology”;
Ø demonstrate the relationship between “archaeological record” and “cultural
Ø interpret the role of institutions in heritage studies; and
Ø analyse the idea of “Archaeological Tourism”.
In this unit we will discuss about the usage of “archaeological record “by human
societies and individuals. The usage of “archaeological record’/knowledge of
ancient materials and applying the same to interpret archaeology of a society is a
complex process and is completely dependent on time, place and population
associated with it. Archaeological records are basically composed of material
objects which cannot speak for themselves. Meanings of these objects are assigned
to them by individuals or societies and such meanings ultimately influence all
other following actions such as applications of archaeological knowledge in
different contexts of modern human life. Thus, the interpretation of archaeological
record occupies the central place in all archaeological studies.
To comprehend the process mentioned above, we have to understand the roles
played by explanatory or interpretative methods in defining archaeological record.
Archaeological records were created by people in the past and the knowledge
gathered from it, is intended for the public of the present and future generations.
Archaeological knowledge is mainly governed by three basic questions (Gamble Applied Aspects
§ Who do we want to know?
§ What can we know? and
§ How do we know?
Is it the individual or the group? Is it possible to reach individuals of past societies
through archaeological record? Is Archaeology only capable of acquiring
fragmentary knowledge on group behaviours? Is there a pattern in all human
activities which can be explained if you follow a distinct method of investigation?
This dilemma is faced by all researchers and archaeological site managers. One
of the best examples in this context is the problem of interpreting archaeological
records at Stonehenge (United Kingdom) (see Box 1) to the public and
Box 1: Stonehenge, United Kingdom
Stonehenge is one of the best known prehistoric monuments of England,
located in the English county of Wiltshire. The site has huge stones standing
freely in space, arranged in an unfinished double circle and contains a
large number of Neolithic as well as Bronze Age burials. Archaeologists
believe that these stones were assembled in the third millennium BC but
their exact purpose is still unknown to us. There are many hypotheses
regarding their usage, ranging from astronomical calculations to druidic
practices. These kinds of situations create great difficulties and at the same
time give liberties to the site managers in interpreting, conserving and
preserving the site. (Source:
properties/stonehenge/history; as accessed on 27.11.2010)
Gathered archaeological knowledge about Stonehenge is mainly about group
activities where the role of individuals has been lost in the mist of unknown
past. But there are other instances where information on individual choices have
also been acquired from archaeological records such as individual taste in
arrangement of furniture in a room or preference of a certain material over another
etc. Each material object contains some intrinsic as well as extrinsic meanings.
The importance given to one sort of meaning over another depends on the choice
of the researcher and often influenced by intended audience. Therefore, the
meaning of archaeological record does not remain static and this has been reflected
in all areas of “Applied Archaeology”.
The field of “Applied Archaeology” denotes the usage of archaeological record
or knowledge for the benefit of public. Archaeology’s role as a contributing
discipline to the body of human knowledge is probably the most significant aspect
of its applicability. Apart from this basic usage, which is common for all
knowledge-building systems, the field of “Applied Archaeology” has been
developed as an emerging discipline with a lot of financial implications.
Archaeological knowledge has been utilised in the field of landscape studies,
industrial studies (Industrial Archaeology), community and public studies
including museum studies (Public Archaeology and Museology), in the field of
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
built environment, planning and development studies, entertainment industry
and last but not the least in tourism and other associated disciplines. All these
aspects are subject matters of Applied Archaeology.
Archaeology acts as the key resource in understanding the development of human
settlement patterns over the ages, environmental impact on these patterns and
subsequent changes. Landscape has been viewed as a basic economic resource
and the utilisation processes of this resource can be benefited from ancient
wisdoms. Ancient land-use system and efficient use of natural resources are key
areas which have been emphasised by archaeologists and planners alike. One of
the finest examples of archaeological knowledge on efficient usage of natural
resources can be seen at the Harrappan city of Dholavira (see Box 2).
Box 2: Dholavira, India
The city of Dholavira is spread over an area of 100 hectares with huge
remains of fortified settlements, townships for lower and middle economic
groups and an advance system of water management. Kutch area of modern
Gujarat is known for the scarcity of water where Dholavira is located. The
city existed for nearly one thousand and five hundred years in an
environment which was not much different from present times and
successfully carried out trade and other activities over a vast area of land
mass. The water management system (with at least six reservoirs) of
Dholavira may act as a knowledge base for developers and planners in
Kutch (Source: ; as accessed
on 27.11.2010)
Planners have thought about similar use of archaeological knowledge of raised
field system – found in the Titicaca Basin of Peru and Bolivia, which was earlier
known as a mere waste land.
Industrial Archaeology is another sub-discipline of Applied Archaeology,
developed in the 1950s in Britain. The aim of this branch is to study the remains
of industrialisation which requires development of new techniques – besides
those old ones – used in other branches of Archaeology. This branch has provided
important inputs on the impact of industrialisation over landscape and human
beings. Stephen Hughes of the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical
Monuments (UK) has shown the relationship between transport and power
systems to mines, quarries and iron work (Shaw and Jameson 1999: 306). The
centre for Applied Archaeology, University of Salford, considers Industrial
Archaeology and built environment studies as integral parts of Applied
Archaeology ( ).William Rathje’s Garbage Project,
set up in Tucson, Arizona, United States, is one important experiment in this
subject where archaeological methods were used to understand the pattern of
consumption of modern urban population (Renfrew and Bahn 1996:13). The
knowledge gathered from these kinds of experiments can easily be utilised by
business houses for developing marketing strategies, advertisement campaigns etc.
Community and public studies as well as Museology are other fields where
archaeological records or knowledge are often used. Involvement of communities
in archaeological work or conservation/preservation of heritage or working
towards the dissemination of archaeological knowledge among general public –
has been developed as a separate branch of Archaeology i.e. Public Archaeology.
Applied Aspects It involves working in public interest to conserve artifacts, sites, built environment,
enforcement of heritage legislation, managing museum collections, presentation
of the past to the public and assessing as well as reducing the impact of building
and construction projects on archaeological remains (Renfrew and Bahn
Museums are no longer considered as simple storage of archaeological records.
Museum collections are increasingly targeting educated and uneducated public
alike for dissemination of knowledge as well as providing entertaining
experiences. Displays are not restricted to the artifacts or ecofacts only but
extended to the presentation of archaeological sites as museums where artifacts
can be viewed “in action”. Indira Gandhi Rastriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal
is such a museum, known for its innovative display techniques and efforts towards
wholesome visitor experiences.
Archaeological knowledge is often used in fictions, movies and TV serials. The
realm of the past always creates huge public interest that has been aptly utilised
by authors, actors or film makers. Indiana Jones Franchise is a famous example
of such usage where the discipline of Archaeology takes the center-stage in a
series of movies (see There is a whole genre of computer
games, based on Archaeology such as “Lara Croft Tomb Raider” or “Diving me
Crazy” – highly popular among the public. There is a danger in such usages as
complete imaginations may take over the place of archaeological facts and chances
of misrepresentation of archaeological knowledge increase thereof.
Public Archaeology often adds elements of ethics in areas of planning and
development. The direct outcome of such ethical perspectives is the “conservation
movement”. The past has been considered as a limited resource which should be
preserved for posterity. Therefore, all development activities should take
cognizance of archaeological heritage at its planning stage. It has become
mandatory in many countries to get archaeological clearance before the start of
any development or construction activity. Public agencies or private commercial
farms work in tandem with planners in such projects, on the basis of contracts
and this arrangement has been termed as “Contract Archaeology”. Development
studies, is another field which is utilising archaeological record and knowledge
in a positive way. It has been recognised now that archaeological remains can
attract tourists and investment in large amount. The use of Archaeology in
development sector, promotes sustainable growth practices through community
participation. Public attachment to these resources has made archaeological
tourism a thriving service- sector industry. It is no wonder that the Taj Mahal is
one of the top tourist destinations in India which attracts more than 3 million
tourists every year.
The current discussion has demonstrated how Applied Archaeology ensures
healthy negotiations between academics and lay people in a fruitful manner.
As we have just discussed, the significance of archaeological record or knowledge
lies in its usage by general public. We have already explored different possibilities
of using archaeological records and now we know that the key to the success of
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
conservation and preservation efforts in archaeological heritage lies in informed
participation of lay people. If an emotion of belonging develops towards an
archaeological heritage, it ensures certain degrees of attachment of the public to
that object or site and it also generates awareness about its values. Such emotions
of belonging create the ideas of cultural affiliation of a particular object which in
turn becomes a valuable treasure for a human group or their culture. These types
of cultural treasures are known as “Cultural Heritage” which connects people
with their past and provide specific identities to different communities. People
now look at Archaeology for finding their cultural roots. Searching for cultural
identity has become an extremely relevant quest for post colonial new nation
states (such as Zimbabwe).
Not every aspect of heritage is valued and the merit of any aspect of cultural
heritage is judged on the basis of contemporary sense of its worthiness and
identities it creates. Now “culture” has become a subject of debate rather than a
field of consensus. Values added to an archaeological object in most cases (not
always) give it a cultural significance. Cultural significance of archaeological
heritage can work at different levels such as aesthetic, religious, political,
economic etc. The attribution of values to any piece of cultural heritage may be
defined in three levels: intrinsic (attached with the place or object – in reality, it
is subjective and contextual), institutional (derived from the work of agencies)
and instrumental (values measured in terms of economic and social benefits).
All these values belong to two types of processes, namely, valuing (appreciating
existing value or intrinsic value) and valorizing (giving added values). The entire
valuation process of cultural heritage and especially valorizing is guided by power
equations. The values assigned to an object by powerful groups (like academics)
generally get preference over the values considered important by weaker sections
(illiterate population). What should be construed as cultural heritage and what
should not, is guided by valorizing processes. These valuation processes are
influential in attaching heritage objects to a particular human group which often
moulds their concepts of identity. An infamous example of identity crisis as well
as valorizing process, associated with cultural heritage, is the destruction of
Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan (see Box 3).
Box 3: Bamiyan Buddha
The Bamiyan valley of Afghanistan, encircled by high mountains of
Hindukush range, became a flourishing centre of Buddhism in the 3rd
Century BC and continued to remain an important trading station till the
13th Century AD. The area is known for its beautiful sculptures of Gandhara
School of Art, monasteries, sanctuaries and fortifications of the Islamic
period. The most famous edifices of Bamiyan were two colossal Buddha
images, measuring 55 and 37 meters – all carved into a mountain cliff.
The Taliban government of Afghanistan shocked the entire world by
destroying these statutes in 2001. They declared that the existence of these
statutes is sinful as they promote the practice of idolatry – forbidden in
Islam. Undoubtedly, these sculptures were created locally and signified a
direct cultural link between the ancient Afghan civilization and the modern
one. The act shows a certain level of detachment of the contemporary
Afghanistan from its own cultural heritage. They lost a link to identify
themselves with these sculptures and attached only negative values to
them. (Source: ; as accessed on
The above mentioned incident notifies the value of interpretation in preservation Applied Aspects
and conservation of cultural heritage. The entire field of conservation and
preservation of cultural heritage is known as Cultural Resource Management
(CRM) in United States or Archaeological Heritage Management in Europe and
elsewhere. “Conservation” has been visualized as processes of “looking after a
place so as to retain its cultural significance “ while “Preservation” is defined as
a process “for maintaining the fabric of a place in its existing state and retarding
deterioration” (Article 1.4 & 1.6; Burra Charter 1999).
Conservation and preservation of heritage objects starts with their identification
by stakeholders and subsequent valorizing processes. The philosophy of these
actions are guided by conservation ethics and composed of various technical
responses for maintaining status quo in heritage objects and space. However
there is an inherent contradiction in every conservation and preservation effort
as all new initiatives in these directions require further interpretations of the
heritage values. Therefore conservation scientists try to consider “all aspects of
cultural and natural significance without unwarranted emphasis on any one value
at the expense of the others” (Article 5; Burra Charter 1999).
Conservation and preservation of cultural heritage give special emphasis to the
principles of minimum intervention, reversibility and authenticity. These
principles are parts of internationally accepted regulations, laws, charters and
recommendations, specially formulated for the preservation and conservation of
cultural heritage.
The last one hundred and fifty years document is a slow progress of the legislature
in cultural heritage preservation. The history of cultural heritage laws, regulations,
charters, conventions or recommendations reflect the political as well as economic
considerations that prevailed at the time of their compilation. Either these laws
have jurisdiction over a certain nation only or they enjoy wide international
The word “Conventions” denotes international legal documents that need
ratifications by member states of Inter-governmental organisations such as
UNESCO or EU etc. Member states generally enact, modify and implement
these conventions at their national level. “Charters” are declarations by a group
of experts under the sponsorship of international professional organisations
such as ICOM (International Council of Museums) or ICOMOS (International
Council on Monuments and Sites) and ratified by sponsoring organisations.
“Recommendations” and “Declarations” are similar to charters, but do not enjoy
similar level of organisational support.
India has one of the earliest legislative measures in the field of cultural heritage.
The first Indian legislation for cultural heritage preservation is known as the
Indian Treasure Trove Act of 1878. After the independence, the Indian government
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
formulated several acts for conservation and preservation for cultural heritage
such as the Antiquities (Export Control) Act, 1947; the Ancient Monuments and
Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR); the Antiquities and Art
Treasure Act, 1972. The AMASR Act of 1958 has recently been amended and
validated in 2010. These acts are aimed at protecting, conserving and preserving
cultural heritage of national importance and recognise the Archaeological Survey
of India, Government of India as the legal custodian of these properties. Each
state of India has separate laws, besides those above-mentioned ones, for the
protection of other heritage properties, not considered as “sites of national
importance” which are located in respective states.
In comparison to the international conventions, charters or recommendations,
national laws on cultural heritages have more power over the heritage properties
as respective governments can punish the offenders while formers are toothless
in this aspect even though they enjoy a larger area of jurisdiction. A few important
international conventions, charters, recommendations for the preservation of
cultural properties are as follows:
• Charter of Athens for the Restoration of Historic Monuments 1932
• Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of
Armed Conflict 1954
• The Venice Charter: International Charter for the Conservation and
Restoration of Monuments and Sites 1964
• Norms of Quito: Final Report of the Meeting on the Preservation and
Utilisation of Monuments and Sites of Artistic and Historical Value
(Organisation of American States and ICOMOS 1967)
• Recommendation of Tunis on Conservation, Restoration and Revival of
Areas and Groups of Buildings of Historical Interest 1968
• Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural
Heritage (UNESCO1972)
• The Nara Document on Authenticity 1994
• The Australia ICOMOS Charter for the Conservation of Places of Cultural
Significance (the Burra Charter;4th Edition 1999)
All of these regulations or recommendations reflect the policies of international
organisations including intergovernmental organisations (UNESCO, Council of
Europe), professional organisations e.g. ICOMOS, ICOM, UNWTO (United
Nations World Tourism Organisation), membership organisations (WAC: World
Archaeological Congress, Europa Nostra) or one off ministerial conferences (joint
dealing of a particular theme).
As we have discussed above, the national policies of different states on cultural
heritage, often get influenced by the principles of international organisations.
Though these organisations have hardly any implementing power over the
sovereign countries, they may exert their authority by mobilizing international
opinion against the defaulters. Inter Applied Aspects -governmental organisations (like UNESCO)
are especially effective in this respect as member states are voluntary signatories
of their conventions. UNESCO or United Nations Educational Scientific and
Cultural Organisation, is at the forefront of all international initiatives on cultural
heritage preservation. In November 1945, thirty seven countries founded
UNESCO and it came into force following the ratification of its constitution by
20 countries on 4th November 1946. Presently, this organisation has 197 members
and seven associate members. The main objective of UNESCO is to create a
space for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and people, based on shared
values to achieve sustainable development. UNESCO recognises diverse forms
of culture as found in tangible and intangible heritages and works for their
protection and conservation to promote cultural diversity.
Besides UNESCO there are other professional international organisations which
are working actively in this field. ICOMOS is a professional organisation which
works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage sites. Currently it
has 9500 members through out the world.
The General Conference of UNESCO adopted the “Convention Concerning the
Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage” in 1972. The convention
encourages international understanding of cultural heritage of “outstanding
universal value” to the humanity as a whole. It invites the member states to
submit an inventory of their heritage properties which includes sites of national
cultural and natural heritage, to be included in a list of World Heritage sites.
These inventories are known as tentative lists of World Heritage sites. The sites
have been divided into three categories namely, cultural, natural and mixed.
UNESCO’s “Operational Guidelines for Implementation of the World Heritage
Convention” specifies ten criteria to nominate sites for inscription in the final
World Heritage list. Protection, management, authenticity and integrity of
properties are also important considerations.
Once a site is inscribed to the list of World Heritage it receives international
recognition for its heritage values and the owning nation often gets assistance
for safeguarding that property. Nearly US $ 4 million is annually available for
assisting the member states in identifying, preserving and promoting the World
Heritage sites. Emergency assistance is also provided to the countries to repair
the damages caused by man-made or natural disasters. These damaged sites are
enlisted in the “List of World Heritage in Danger” which enables them to get
attention of the international community for catering to their particular
conservation needs.
By signing this convention the state parties agree to protect not only the World
Heritage sites but other national heritage properties, situated within their
territories. The states report regularly on the conditions of these World Heritage
sites to UNESCO which reviews and assesses these reports to decide on site
specific conservation needs and probable solutions for recurrent problems.
The current World Heritage list includes 911 properties – forming part of cultural
and natural properties of humankind which the World Heritage Committee
considers as having “outstanding universal value”. India is an active member of
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
the World Heritage Convention since 1977 and presently has 27 world Heritage
properties which include some famous tourist destinations like Taj Mahal, Rock
Cut Caves of Ajanta, Churches and Convents of Goa, Kaziranga National Park
etc. The Archaeological Survey of India is the nodal agency for all World Heritage
properties in the country.
The declaration of properties as World Heritages has its own problems too. Often
these properties become targets of man made damages, done knowingly or
unknowingly. The very reason of inscribing one property to the World Heritage
list is the cause for attracting millions of tourists to a heritage property.
Undoubtedly this influx of tourists boosts local economy and creates new ways
of development. But such endeavors also test the carrying capacity of a site in
question, definitely mold its characters and influence its authenticity. One of the
major challenges faced by UNESCO today is not only making the national
authorities, private sector and civil societies realise that the World Heritage
convention is not merely a tool for enhancing cultural and biological diversity
but also a significant means for sustainable development.
Arguably, tourism is the biggest money spinning industry associated with cultural
heritage. “Cultural Tourism” has been considered as a subset of tourism proper
which includes archaeological tourism. However, a closer inspection will reveal
that all types of tourism, where the objective is pleasure, are forms of “Cultural
Tourism” only. UNWTO defines “Cultural Tourism” as:
“………..movements by people motivated by cultural intents such as study tours,
performing arts, festivals, cultural events, visits to sites and monuments as well
as travel for pilgrimages. Cultural tourism is also about immersion in and
enjoyment of the lifestyle of the local people, the local area and what constitutes
its identity and character”.
Naturally, archaeological heritage constitutes the central part of all such tourism
activities. A list of top ten tourist destinations in the world in 2007 by Forbes
(http://www.forbestraveler.comstory.html) shows, that every entry in this list is
actually a cultural monument or a site (Table 1.1).
Table 1.1: Most Visited Attractions by Domestic and International Tourists in
2007 (Top 10 Tourist Attractions)
World Tourist attraction Location Country Number of
ranking visitors
(in million)
1 Times Square New York United 35
City States
2 National Mall and Washington, United 25
Memorial Parks D.C. States
3 Walt Disney Orlando United 16.6
World Resort’s States
Magic Kingdom,
Lake Buena Vista
Applied Aspects 4 Trafalgar Square London United 15
5 Disneyland Anaheim California United States 14.7
6 Niagara Falls Ontario & Canada & 14
New York United States
7 Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco, United States 13
& Golden Gate California
8 Tokyo Disney Tokyo Japan 12.9
land & Tokyo
Disney Sea
9 Notre Dame de Paris Paris France 12
10 Disney land Paris Paris France 10.6
These sites easily qualify as “attractions representing human cultural dimensions
“ (that makes Niagara a “Cultural Tourism” destination too) but only a few of
them can really claim to be of profound archaeological importance.
Besides “archaeological tourism”, there are several subsets of cultural tourism
like “heritage tourism” or “cultural heritage tourism” – all of which have really
fuzzy boundaries. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, USA included
all historic, cultural and natural attractions in the field of “cultural heritage
tourism”. The ambiguity of the term creates confusions in understanding its proper
role in any given context.
UNWTO notes that in 2008, the international tourism grew by 2% which
generated a profit equal to 30% of the world’s export service in that year. At a
seminar on sustainable development in South Africa 2002, the Secretary General
of UNWTO declared that the basic aim of his organisation is to eliminate poverty
through tourism.
It is no wonder that tourism has been closely linked with World Heritage sites.
UNESCO has noticed an upsurge in tourism activities at every site after its
nomination as a World Heritage property. Materialising the potential benefits of
tourism at these sites require careful planning and well thought-out management
strategies. The maintenance of authenticity and integrity of a site is essential for
the sustenance of tourism at that particular place and backbone of any management
plan. These demands of sustainability force all stakeholders to follow ethics of
We have already discussed about the limited nature of archaeological resources
which can not be regenerated or replaced. Therefore all tourism activities should
take care of maintaining the “fabric” of archaeological treasures so that the level
of tourist interest to a particular heritage property does not get diminished. Ethics
of archaeological tourism concentrates on responsible tourism practices and
promotes active participation of all stakeholders in conservation activities. Such
participations include the involvement of general public as well as nongovernmental
organisations in conservation and preservation drives.
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
UNWTO has formulated the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET) as a set
of references for responsible and sustainable development of the World Tourism.
This code is intended to be a living document which targets it reader for its
circulation and the implementation of good tourism practices. Ethics of tourism
try to minimise the negative impacts of tourism sector over the cultural heritage.
All nine articles of the GCET speak about the rules of responsible tourism while
the tenth article provides a mechanism for redressal of grievances and enforcement
of tourism regulations.
Article 4 of this code of conduct especially deals with archaeological and cultural
heritage. Tourism has been visualized here as a user of cultural heritage and a
contributor to its enhancement. It recognises the right of mankind and particular
communities over a cultural heritage. In addition to these rights, UNWTO
recognises the need of participation of all stakeholders in management of cultural
properties. The code emphasises the necessity of conservation of such properties
and also the responsibility of the site managers in providing “meaningful and
considerate access to as many visitors as the site can allow”. All of these ethical
practices are intended for better visitor experiences which are dependent on
supportive infrastructures – built on sustainable management practices.
Anybody is a potential visitor to a cultural heritage site and all heritage properties
are ultimately intended for wholesome visitor experiences. A visitor travels to a
site for gaining pleasure in a variety of manners. Ethics of tourism restrict visitors’
freedom at a cultural heritage site to conserve it for future generations. Visitors
ensure recognition of a site, help in developing the infrastructure and create
employment opportunities for the local people. A successful management strategy
helps visitors in interpreting the sites through proper conservation initiatives,
guidance and ultimately creates a feeling of belongingness to the site in the mind
of the tourist/visitor.
Visitor arrivals have negative impacts on the sites too. It is an act of external
intrusion to the local life which creates local imbalance and may cause a concern
for the security of the site (international smuggling of artefacts is a serious threat
to archaeological monuments and sites). The alien domain of other past cultures
often gets mingled with present cultural conditions which influences certain
expectations of the tourists from the local communities (the concepts of objective
authenticity = museum version; constructive authenticity = something that can
emerge beyond the objective authenticity or acquire social recognition as authentic
– are important here. Cole 2007:944).
Reflection and Action on 2.3 and 2.4
How does the interpretation of an archaeological site affect its management
strategies? Reflect and analyse.
These visits may prove to be financial burdens to the site management authorities
as visitor influx requires proper investment in infrastructure development. To
establish a balance between visitor influx and conservation efforts, visitor
movements in cultural heritage properties are restricted through the Applied Aspects
implementation of proper management strategies like fixing of opening and
closing hours, controlled visitor movements, limiting the number of visitors per
day and raising entrance fee etc.
The infrastructure for roads, accommodation, food and communication are basic
needs of every site to cater to the demand of tourism. Investments for these
activities are not easily available in developing economies. The amount of money
spent at a site is often the major deciding factor in measuring the strength of the
infrastructure and the carrying capacity of a site. The amount of expenditure on
a site is generally influenced by its importance among the tourist destinations
and the relationship between these two factors is basically cyclic in nature. If
money is not spent, a proper tourism infrastructure will not be built. The absence
of infrastructure will reduce the number of tourists at that site. If the number of
tourists at a site gets reduced, it will loose its importance as a major tourist
destination and will attract less amount of investment and so on.
A good management plan makes arrangements for all these factors and develops
policies after considering the values, resources and constraints of the sites. All
management plans are aimed at managing changes, identifying possible solutions
and making decisions in informed contexts. A successful management plan is
vigilant on conservation ethics, participatory in nature and promotes sustainable
development practices.
Constant influx of more than optimum number of visitors (the maximum number
of tourists a site can contain) deteriorate its environment and may prove harmful
to the future prospects of the site. It creates pressure on the infrastructure and
makes it vulnerable to future failures. The publicity initiatives like advertising
to attract tourists, sometimes add woe to the sites too. The pressure of tourism at
the famous rock cut caves of Ajanta, India (a World Heritage Site), seriously
damaged the site that forced the conservators to suggest restricted tourist inflow
at this place. Costly measures to check further damages are not easy to perform
in cash-strapped developing economies. UNESCO, Bangkok is studying the
impact of tourism on cultural heritage sites in Asia for the last couple of years
and suggests “controlled tourism” as a measure for restricting further damage.
In this context of growing threats to heritage sites, the World Conference on
Sustainable Tourism created a charter in 1995 to protect heritage sites from such
damages. It is known as the Charter for Sustainable Tourism. It describes the
positive and negative aspects of tourism and calls for planning and management
of tourism for the conservation and protection of heritage properties. The charter
visualizes the objectives of sustainable tourism to be ecologically bearable,
economically viable, socially equitable for local communities and sustainable to
the future. The Charter advises to assess the impact of tourism on cultural and
natural heritage and recommends special assistance to the areas that have been
degraded by tourism activities. Now UNWTO promotes the idea of sustainable
tourism in all of its activities.
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
In the present unit we have tried to cover all major aspects of Applied Archaeology.
The discussion moved around the basic concept of archaeological record, its
meaning and utilisation. Now we understand the powerful role of “interpretation”
in applications of archaeological knowledge which guides all other “valorising”
processes and makes objects or places culturally significant to different
communities. The communities in turn develop a feeling of belongingness to
these properties and thrive for their conservation and protection. The role of
intergovernmental organisations such as UNESCO is important in this respect
which was instrumental in enacting the World Heritage Convention and its
implementation. This convention helps in creating World heritage properties and
promotes them for tourism. Culture of archaeological tourism has its own benefits
and problems too. It is crucial for development initiatives but at the same time,
diminishes the values of these properties. The basic aim of all cultural tourism
activities is to create general awareness about ethical tourism practices and provide
means for sustainable tourism. Cultural heritage is a limited source and it should
be accessible to all and preserved for future generations to come and cherish.
Suggested Reading
Agnew, N. and J. Bridgland (Eds). 2006. Of the Past, for the Future: Integrating
Archaeology and Conservation. Proceedings of the Conservation Theme at the
th World Archaeological Congress, Washington, D.C, 22-26 June 2003.Getty
Conservation Institute. Los Angeles.
Aplin, G.2002. Heritage: Identification, Conservation and Management. South
Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Bahn, P. and C. Renfrew. 1996. Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice.
London: Thames and Hudson.
Bahn, P. and C. Renfrew (Eds). 2005. Archaeology: The Key Concepts. New
York: Routledge.
Cole, S.2007. Beyond Authenticity and Commodification. Annals of Tourism
Research 34(4):943-960.
De la torre, M (Ed).2002. Assessing the Values of Cultural Heritage. Getty
Conservation Institute: Los Angeles. Download as pdf from
Gamble, C. 2002. Archaeology: The Basics. London and New York: Rutledge.
Guide Books: World Heritage Series. New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India.
Roy, S.1996. The Story of Indian Archaeology 1784-1947. New Delhi:
Archaeological Survey of India.
Shaw, I. and R. Jameson (Eds). 1999. A Dictionary of Archaeology. Oxford:
Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
Useful Links
The Archaeological Survey of India:
The Getty Conservation Institute:
Applied Aspects ICOMOS:
UNESCO World Heritage Centre:
Sample Questions
1) What is Public Archaeology? Discuss the role of public Archaeology in
heritage Management.
2) What do you know about UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Reflect on the
problems of maintaining a World Heritage Site.
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Cultural Resource Management (CRM)
3.3 Exposition of Cultural Resource by Exploration and Excavation
3.4 Legislation and Salvage Archaeology
3.5 Managing of Archaeological Sites
3.6 Compliance Process
3.6.1 Conservation
3.6.2 Management Versus Academic Research
3.6.3 Research Design
3.6.4 Safeguarding and Public Participation
3.6.5 Pubic Archaeology
3.6.6 People Related to Archaeological Resources
3.7 Importance of Indian Archeological Heritage Sites
3.8 Archaeological Museums
3.9 Researches into the Heritage Cultural Resources at Museums
3.10 Summary
Suggested Reading
Sample Questions
Learning Objectives
Once you have studied this unit, you should be able to:
Ø discuss the definition of Cultural Resource vis-à-vis Cultural Heritage/
Heritage Culture;
Ø understand the initial sources of Cultural Resource;
Ø describe the subsequent sources of Cultural Resources;
Ø explain the cultural Resource Management (CRM); and
Ø understand the legislation towards protection of Cultural Resources.
Cultural resources refer to both tangible and intangible heritage. The present
lesson focuses on tangible heritage. In simple words it includes both man-made
and natural features associated with human activities. Cultural resources are the
heritage of mankind and therefore such evidences require our attention. They are
all unique, non-renewable resources and comprise of sites, structures/monuments,
features and artifacts significant in human history. As a matter of fact, history of
mankind has been reconstructed with the help of varieties of cultural resources,
which were left behind by our early ancestors. Tangible variables of human culture
in most parts of the Old World and in the New World occur in the form of some
objects that draw the attention of modern man, and such archaeological remains
help in the reconstruction of history of mankind.
Cultural Resource
Here in this sub-unit on Cultural Resource Management, we will learn the
definition of “Culture”, ‘Cultural Resources’ and “Cultural Resource
With a series of evolution on the positioning of thumb and big toe, enlargement
of his cranial capacity, he adopted bipedalism and realised the needs to develop
tools for his day-to-day activities. A tool is the smallest unit of cultural resource.
As this Cultural Resource is a reflection of his thoughts and actions, it may be
viewed as incorporating both tangible and intangible traits of man.
Today, CRM is understood in terms of taking care of the archaeological remains
and in management of the cultural resources. It deals with the application of
management skills to conserve cultural heritage for the benefit of the public and
future generations. The idea of Cultural Resource Management (CRM) came
into existence in the mid 1970s and brought an end to the anxieties of
archaeologists and folklorists over the destruction of archaeological remains,
historical buildings and paved a way to look into the dimensions of intangible
Modern man got acquainted with antiquities from different parts of the world
during his travels which was necessitated by trade and missionary activities. He
collected objects which appeared queer to him with an intention to decorate his
sitting room or his drawing room, and on certain occasions collected such objects
to demonstrate them before scholars. During the renaissance movement in Europe
there was a great demand for antiquarian objects from the new world. The
widespread interest and demand for these objects led to the looting and smuggling
of antiquities in order to cater to this demand. In the initial stages, objects of
cultural and antiquarian significance was collected by man merely to satisfy his
curiosity which later became important as humans understood that the objects
they collected represent activities of their ancestors. This slowly became an
organised exercise and came to be known as exploration followed by unearthing
the buried past known as excavation. Since ancient times, thieves and thugs had
been looting antiquity-rich places for buried or hidden treasures.
Heinrich Schliemann, a German businessman in 1873 discovered around seven
cities in Greece including Homer’s legendary city of Troy. Being a wealthy
merchant at St. Petersburg, Russia, he started the first digging in search of the
city of Troy at Hissarlik, with a manpower of 150 workers. Owing to the
unsystematic nature of his work, Schliemann destroyed more evidence compared
to the discoveries he made and out of his interest towards the great gold treasures,
which he allowed his Greek wife to wear on her neck, which was ‘unethical’ in
today’s terms and in this process he destroyed the upper layers.
Fox Pitt-Rivers later formulated a formal procedure of scientific excavation with
historical tradition. Augustus H. Lane Fox was a military General, later changed
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
his name to Augustus H. Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers, and inherited Rivers Estate in
southern England after he retired from military service in 1880. Finally, he became
popularly known as Pitt-Rivers who pioneered methods of elaborate and
painstaking procedures of excavation that the archaeologists undertake today.
Flinders Petrie was one of his contemporaries and contributed a lot to the
development of archaeological methods. No doubt excavation is rightly called
the destruction but what it retrieves forms the base to reconstruct the cultural
history of a locality. The excavation what we see today is a further modified
version of the earlier by several people, particularly Sir Mortimer Wheeler.
In order to prevent merciless and massive destruction of human heritage, certain
rules restricting the damage of sites, structures and artifacts relevant to history or
archaeology were necessary. In India, under an act called, Antiquity Preservation
Act, 1904, which was later amended in 1947 with certain modifications gave
powers to the State and Central Government authorities to safeguard, protect
and preserve the cultural heritage. Legislation was enforced not only to conserve
the remains but also towards conservation of the sites at the Government level.
The remains of Indus Valley Civilization was first discovered accidently while
constructing a railway line in Northwest India during British rule. The Government
immediately went ahead with its excavations followed by the conservation of its
Cultural Resource Management (CRM), in most cases is an affair of the
Government who will take note of different discoveries in its country and take
adequate steps towards protection and conservation of the site along with its
ruins. Upon urgent demand of an endangered site, action to protect the site will
be undertaken under the purviews of Salvage archaeology. There are many
examples in this regard and UNESCO’s project of re-locating the Abu Simbel
temple in Egypt is the first of its kind. When Abu Simbel temple was endangered
in the wake of construction of the Aswan High Dam resulting in rise of water
level of Lake Nasser, UNESCO undertook the Salvage operation. A similar project
of 15 years’ duration was undertaken in Andhra Pradesh at the Nagarjuna Sagar
or Nagarjuna Konda.
All the famous historical remains in India, particularly in the Northern and Northwestern
India such as the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, Lal Quila and others are
looked after by Archaeological Survey of India. There are many monuments of
these kinds in other parts of India. In Assam, all the historical sites belonging to
Ahom Kingdom at Sibsagar and its Royal burial grounds at Charaideo, famous
Khaspur ruins near Silchar, world renowned Shaktipith- the Kamakshya temple
at Guwahati, Surya Pahar at Marnai in Goalpara are some of the remains under
the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India. In other parts of the World
there are private agencies that work in this direction on contract basis.
In India in addition to the Archaeological Survey of India, all the State
Governments have Departments of State Archaeology together with Historical
and Antiquarian Study Departments responsible for undertaking surveys to trace
Cultural Resource the existence of antiquities in the form of sites, monuments and similar structures
in their respective States. Upon receiving information, the Registering Officer
from the said agency visits the locality and identifies the heritage structures.
After it is entered in the National Registry, the concerned authority brings it to
the notice of the State/Central Government for taking appropriate steps to protect
the heritage. Sites and other remains are brought to the notice of the Government
with information from the concerned public and also from the sources of
construction agency engaged in developmental works. Ambari, a historical site
in Assam at the heart of Guwahati City came to public notice and also to the
State Museum of Assam when the Reserve Bank of India selected the site for
construction of its building. Huge cultural remains were discovered at the site
and later the Government of Assam protected the site. On the other hand,
protection of Ambari site led local people of the region, engaged in construction
of their residential buildings to hide information regarding the cultural finds and
the occurrence of any kind of archaeological materials to the authority with an
apprehension of the site being taken over by the Government. This is not the
only isolated case, in parts of Assam, there are plenty of information of such
kind of attitude on the part of the public to conceal the available information of
heritage under their residential buildings.
Under the prevailing situations in our country, the conservationists and the
archaeologists have to jointly think of overall strategies, conservation priorities,
and field-research designs to ensure close linkage between the latest
methodological and theoretical approaches followed by salvage excavation i.e.
application of salvage operations in the field. In urban localities, it should be
made mandatory for all concerned, who want to undertake new constructions, to
carry out a survey at their proposed construction sites. After all, we have to
conserve our heritage with utmost priority.
Compliance involves the question of formulating a practical solution for the
continuous loss of cultural heritage materials in our country, and therefore there
is a growing need to create a general consciousness and awareness among all
sections of population. During the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the world
famous statues of Buddha at Bamian were blown to dust with a total disrespect,
irrespective of appeals from all over the World not to demolish the structures.
Can we suspect the attitude of a new authority or a community after their
conversion to a different religion to ignore the already existing heritage of that
place? In fact, it cannot be a situation at all in a secular country like India. It
should be the sentiments of the general people to uphold and respect all sorts of
archaeological remains in our country irrespective of religious status and identity.
However, we must carefully proceed with the policy of conservation of historical
and archaeological ruins.
First, an overall assessment of the cultural resources of our country is necessary,
followed by an option to make a public appeal, to make the people aware of their
cultural heritage in different regions of our country. Accordingly, sites and
archaeological remains should be identified for the benefit of the nation for alerting
its population about the past heritage of the country. In this kind of compliance
process, it may be accepted as a project of awareness and therefore there will be
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
a necessity of continuous role on the part of the archaeologists and people
concerned to tirelessly work towards the preservation of the heritage resources
of the country at the State and Central level. It appears not an easy task because
it involves so many hurdles to be crossed in the process of negotiating with the
Government agencies.
3.6.1 Conservation
Brian M. Fagan (1991) writes, Ethics in archaeology demand conservation of
many sites as far as possible. In this respect, sites which are not threatened by
modern infrastructure development, are ideally suitable. However, any
investigator involved in such endeavour has to develop a research design based
purely on scientific considerations. Nevertheless, many other issues like budget,
public interest, possible design alternatives in the development project, and
mitigation cost come into play when sites are threatened by imminent destruction.
Then, there is the problem of “secondary impacts”, when unexpected spin-offs
of the main project destroy resources outside the main project area.
3.6.2 Management Versus Academic Research
Resource Management and academic research in archaeology enter into apparent
conflicting dilemma in any project, which is managed, controlled and carried
out by Governmental agencies, unlike in a developed country, which has a
procedure of giving an archaeological survey or any authorized agency a contract
of preservation. In such situations contracting agencies consider archaeology as
an inductive science that comes under normative view. The normative view
ascribes a descriptive approach to culture, which can be used to describe culture
during one time period or throughout time. Archaeologists view that the surviving
artifacts, such as potsherds in regard to their style, its form and its changes are
the manifestations of human behaviour over the period of time. Culture-historical
reconstruction is a useful organisational tool that has added some descriptive
order to world archaeology. Inductive method is useful in general exploratory
research that is carried out in case of many large survey areas.
The decade of 1970s saw increase in the utility of deductive research in
archaeology when archaeologists began viewing fieldwork and excavation
activities (or exploration and excavation) as a problem oriented to testing
3.6.3 Research Design
Formulation of a research design is also a primary requirement in cultural resource
management or heritage management. An outline of the proposed research with
a nomenclature, together with the nature of the project, its methodology needs to
be chalked out. The following part involves collection of data, its analyses and
finally writing an analytical report. Conservation and Preservation of the same
may follow the report submission. A site under immediate threat or a locality
selected for developing a project needs to be attended immediately.
A senior archaeologist along with experts in relevant disciplines is ideally suited
to undertake a CRM project. However, a large number of hands may be required
in such projects and in such situations new entrants may also be trained.
Cultural Resource 3.6.4 Safeguarding and Public Participation
Local population around the cultural remains is the best agency to be chosen to
entrust with its protection. Owing to their close proximity to the remains, the
local population develops a sense of belongingness to the antiquarian site. These
people revere the remains. Further, people in the vicinity also report its existence
to the Government or equivalent authority for undertaking the conservation of
the site and its remains. Once the site is conserved and preserved, its importance
can be spread to the surrounding regions through the means of Public Archaeology
and tourism.
3.6.5 Public Archaeology
‘Public Archaeology’ is a branch of archaeology that deals with creating awareness
about the cultural wealth and the importance of preserving them. It also encourages
archaeologists to understand how a layman views his immediate or distant past.
Certain ruins are connected to the people of a locality since time immemorial,
and it is closely connected to them in the form of a living practice. The concerned
community undertakes certain festivity in close connection with the remains at a
particular time of the year. Further, the thoughts and respect for such remains
encourage people to initiate social customs. To cite an example, the Megalithic
monuments of different shapes and sizes of the Karbis of Karbi Anglong of
Assam, since ancient times, are available in plenty. To commemorate this ancient
practice of Megalithism, Dilip Medhi (2002) organised three different public
functions in the name of ‘Megalithic Monument Conservation Day’ at
Tengralangso and Kamarpha in 1997, at Tika in 1998 and at Nongjrong in 1999
with active cooperation of the local people. Thus, Public Archaeology spread
the message of conservation of cultural heritage and resources among the public
who become actively involved in safeguarding the archaeological remains and
cultural sites. Naga communities hold a stone pulling festival to commemorate
the Megalithic practice amongst them.
3.6.6 People Related to Archaeological Resources
Ruthann Knudson, points out ‘ownership issue’ of archaeological sites (1986)
with regards to their owner and finds. It may be noted that even in cases when an
archaeological site falls within a private property, the ownership of the remains
are with the Government as all the material remains belong to either the nation
or the world.
Starting with the initial discoveries of archaeological evidences during the British
regime in India, archaeological evidence began to be incorporated by the historians
and archaeologists. Bruce Foote’s discovery of handaxe at Pallavaram near Madras
in 1863 was an eye opener to South Asian Prehistory. Later V.D. Krishnaswami
(1938) reported a very rich and varied Lower Palaeolithic assemblage from the
Kortalayer valley in the Chingleput District of Tamil Nadu. Further the discovery
of the Indus Valley Civilization at the time of the Railway construction project
in Northwest India was a major eye opener to the first urbanization of the
Interpretation and
Explanation of
Archaeological Record
Archaeological Museums are the places where antiquities are displayed
chronologically. There are a number of museums all over the world and the
United States of America is famous in this respect because apart from public
museums, almost each and every Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
has an associated museum.
The British Museum was established in the 18th Century. However, the Danish
archaeologists were the pioneers in the establishment of a museums of
antiquities.Its first curator C. J. Thomsen put forwarded the concept of ‘Three
Age System’ on the basis of its antiquities. In fact, it was an outstanding endeavour
of a few Danish elites interested in antiquities, comprising of Rasmus Nyerup,
Vedel-Simonsen, Sven Nilsson, J. J. Worsaae and Christian Jurgensen Thomsen
who set up the ‘National Museum of Danish Antiquities’ in 1806 with the small
collection of antiquities from the University of Copenhagen. Initially classification
of the antiquities were not possible, however, Thomsen initiated it and came up
with the Three Age System which meant that the entire history of manknnd
passed through Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age, which was later confirmed
by the excavation of Pitt Rivers.
In India, there are a number of museums either at the State or at the National
levels, and today the Department of Culture under the Ministry of Human
Resources has given many of them the status of ‘National Museum’, prominent
among them being National Museum at New Delhi and Indian Museum at
Kolkata. Apart from the National Museums, there are some ‘Site Museums’ in
our Country and the one at Nagarjunakonda is famous in this regard. Japanese
Open Air Museum at its former capital in ‘Nara’ is one of the famous museums
in Asia. There are many such museums in the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Museum exhibits are the objects of cultural resources of human past. They are
static in nature but are the suitable objects to speak the dynamic cultural evolution
of mankind in the past. As mentioned earlier in the case of ‘National Museum of
Danish Antiquities’, researches undertaken at a museum may reveal meaningful
and suitable information on certain aspects of cultural history of humankind.
Studies into the Cultural Resource vis-à-vis Cultural Heritage make people aware
of their past and brings the knowledge regarding what kind of culture the people
of a region had in the past. Therefore the Government of a Country on its own
and also with the help of education-cum-research Institutes along with suitable
learned agencies always works on preservation of the archaeological sites.
Government of each and every country, including India, all over the world has
different kinds of rules and regulations in this regard and also enact State
Legislation for conservation of Cultural Resources of respective State.
Suggested Reading Cultural Resource
Fagan Brian M. 1991. In the Beginning. Glenview, Illinois Boston and London:
Foresman and Company.
Herskovits Melville J. 1955. Cultural Anthropology. Calcutta, Bombay and New
Delhi: Oxford and IBH Publishing Co.
Knudson Ruthann. 1986. Contemporary Cultural Resource Management.
American Archaeology, Past and Future (David J. Meltzer et al edited): 395-
413. Washington DC. Smithsonian Institution Press.
Krishnaswami V. D. 1938. Prehistoric Tools Around Madras. Indian Academy
of Sciences, 3:32-35.
Medhi Dilip K. 2002. Archaeological Research in Karbi Anglong, Assam (1991-
2000): 48-65. Man and Environment in Northeast India, Vol II. New Delhi:
Omsons Publications.
Sankalia H..D. 1974. Prehistory of India and Pakistan. Poona: Deccan College
Postgraduate and Research Institute.
Tylor Edward Burnett, 1874. Primitive Culture (In 2 Volumes: 1stAmerican and
nd English edition). New York.
Wheeler Mortimer, 1954. (1968 Reprint) Archaeology from the Earth. London:
Cox and Wyman Ltd.
Sample Questions
1) How will you define Cultural Resource Management and its importance in
Indian Archaeology?
2) Write short answers for the following
i) What is Museum?