(Last Updated on : 12/01/2010)
The footsteps of Indian archaeol-ogy can easily be traced from the beginning of the early sixteenth century to the closing years of the nineteenth century with its dominant theoretical frame of field-enquiry being a concern with the issue of ancient Indian historical geography. Sites, inscriptions, coins, sculpture, architecture, all had their place in this overriding scheme. At the dawn of the twentieth century there was a definite archaeological shape of India's ancient past. Some recent excavations that are carried out by the archeologists of modern era also serve important information in the Indian archaeology.
Moreover, during the modern period of archaeology, important matters should be taken for considerations in the field of archaeology in modern India. The Archaeological Survey of India was organised as late as 1861 and suffered at least two major interruptions before the end of the century. During this time, in the important task of preserving the Indian monuments there were only brief and generally half-hearted attempts and there was no policy of systematically excavating ancient historic settlements. The excavations that took place during this period were done in a haphazard manner and were only of marginal significance. In fact, in the closing years of the nineteenth century the government had no bigger plan for archaeology except a province-wise listing of the major monuments and sites.
During the ruling period of the British, there was a steady emphasis on the tasks of exploration and ex-cavation in different parts of India, undertaken by the authorities. This was the era when the British took increasing role in the field-work, with the em-phasis on the excavation of the principal early historical cities of north India and the associated stupa and monastic sites, along with Rajagriha (1905-6) and Bhita (1911-12). For the first time, the early historic urban past of north India was being given a touch of reality by the archaeologist's spade. Another major achievement of his time was the discovery of the Indus civilization. The principal sites of this civilization excavated during this period are Mohenjodaro and Harappa. Though both the sites had been known for a long time but their archaeological significance was not appreciated till these excavations were undertaken. The site of Harappa was much destroyed by the depredations of the railway contractors of the Lahore-Multan railway, and thus Mohenjodaro
became the major focus of horizontal excavations. Another excavation of archeological importance was the buried Buddhist ruins in the deserts of central Asia in 1900-1, 1906-8 and 1913-16 that was made on behalf of the government of India.
Till 1944 certainly some good work were carried out, notably at the Indus civilization sites of Mohenjodaro, Chanhudaro and Harappa and at the early historic site of Ahichchhatra. The government of India took a renewed interest in the Archaeological Survey to make further progress in this sector of archaeology.