Thursday, 25 March 2010

Fieldwork: Haryana

I've been on a dig in Haryana for a couple of weeks, and will be here for another few, so there won't be many (any) posts until mid-April.

This is the project that I'm involved with. My PhD will be on the ceramics that we are currently excavating.

Hope everyone's enjoying the spring!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Trowel and Error: The Bronze Age (A Reinterpretation)

This is a sketch by a brilliant comedy duo called Mitchell and Webb (Big Foot and Red Beard), on the transition from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age, and how chronological periods give the impression that everyone woke up one morning and decided to switch to a different way of life. Of course, such changes are generally a very gradual social evolution.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The End of the Raj: As Seen Through Home Videos

Cambridge University's Centre for South Asian Studies has uploaded a large number of 'home videos' about the Raj onto their website, where they may be accessed for free by anyone. These videos are from over 50 private collections, from 1911 to 1956, chronicling political and social events at the end of British rule in India.

The article says:

"The silent films cover a huge range of topics, including harrowing scenes shot during the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, images of labourers working on railways and dams, and pictures of the funeral of Lord Brabourne, a former Governor of Bombay and Bengal, in 1939.

They also open a window both on to some of the lesser-studied facets of Imperial history, such as women's experiences in colonial India; and aspects which otherwise would simply have gone unrecorded."

Access the films at

If you watch the videos and have a comment, do leave one underneath this post!

Delhi: Archaeologists vs. Wakf Board

A little controversy in the news right now; The Hindustan Times did a write-up on a debate over heritage structure ownership in Delhi. Click on the link for the full article.

The Delhi State Archaeological Dept. issued notifications for the protection and conservation of 39 monuments in Delhi. The Delhi Wakf Board has objected to 25 of these monuments, on the grounds that they are already wakf and hence should not be treated as "mere monuments". A wakf or waqf is an inalienable religious endowment in Islam, like land or a building for religious or charitable purposes (thanks Wikipedia).

Clashes between archaeologists and those who live on or around monuments and sites are not uncommon. It's impossible to save everything and keep monuments untouched, and I don't know any archaeologists who think that way. However, it is important that the monuments that we do have are well looked after.

I don't know what kind of conservation scheme the Archaeological Dept. has proposed, and I don't know if or how it'll interfere with the religious uses of the wakf, but I do hope they can find some kind of compromise. People still live in and use a lot of the medieval monuments around Delhi and Haryana, and frankly, it isn't always possible to relocate them.

There should be a way to protect monuments, and simultaneously ensure that the continued usage of them is sustainable.