Archaeological News

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Mumbai - After the massive landslide in July that wiped out an entire village in the Indian state of Maharashtra, a report prepared by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) warns of landslide threats to the nearby Ajanta Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The caves at Ajanta contain exquisite mural paintings and sculpture dating back to the second century BC, and attract nearly 500,000 tourists every year, making it one of India’s most popular tourist destinations.

The report, that was prepared in 2011, mentions how the hills within which the caves are situated are weak and contain several loose boulders, due to exposure to nature’s elements. Read more.

Archaeologists from University of Calcutta have found an 8th Century inscription in a village in West Bengal’s Purulia district.

The inscription running into four lines was found from Dhuluri village on the corner of a long stretch of rock surface surrounded by dense vegetation and beyond the habited area of the village, Rajat Sanyal, Assistant Professor of the Department of Archaeology, University of Calcutta, told The Hindu.

The rock is located in the Saturi block of the district on the banks of a local rivulet emerging from the Damodar.

“A study of the characteristic features of the inscription suggests that the short epigraph is carved in an unusual and extremely calligraphic Siddhamatrka script. Read more.

In the early summer of 1819, a British hunting party was heading through thick jungle near Aurangabad, in Maharashtra, western India, when the tiger they were tracking disappeared into a deep ravine. Leading the hunters was Captain John Smith, a young cavalry officer from Madras. Beckoning his friends to follow, he tracked the animal down a semi-circular scarp of steep basalt, and hopped across the rocky bed of the Wagora river, then made his way up through the bushes at the far side of the amphitheatre of cliffs.

Halfway up, Smith stopped in his tracks. The footprints led straight past an opening in the rock face. But the cavity was clearly not a natural cave or a river-cut grotto. Instead, despite the long grass, the all-encroaching creepers and thorny undergrowth, Smith was looking at a manmade facade cut straight into the rockface. The jagged slope had been painstakingly carved away into a perfect portico. It was clearly a work of great sophistication. Equally clearly, it had been abandoned for centuries. Read more.

MEERUT: The accidental discovery of a human skeleton wearing what appears to be a copper crown with carnelian beads has generated a lot of curiosity in Chandayan village of Baghpat district. Beads of carnelian, a semi-precious stone, are generally associated with the Harappan civilization. However, a crown has never been found in any of the Indus Valley civilization sites.

Amit Rai Jain, director of Baraut-based Shehzad Rai Research Institute told, TOI on Thursday, “Diggers at a brick kiln at Chandayan village, 38 km from Baghpat, struck upon a human skeleton, a few pieces of terracotta pottery and a copper crown attached to the skull.” Read more.

Kurnool district emerges as an important human habitat during the prehistoric time with archaeologists discovering places one after the other. The latest prehistoric dwelling was discovered at Nossam in Koilkuntla mandal of the district.

K. Ramakrishna Reddy, Assistant Archaeologist of ASI, Hyderabad, who undertook a detailed study of the place, found Akkampalli caves and rock painting a few years ago. Of late, the team discovered another batch of caves near Nossam which was of great significance historically.

The group of archaeologists noticed several pictures drawn on cave walls which include honey comb, snake, a variety of flora and fauna. Deer and other animals were prominent. Read more.

After Taj Mahal and Humayun Tomb, Google and Archaeological Survey of India together have now brought online 360-degree panoramic imagery of 76 more Indian heritage sites and 30 new immersive exhibitions of arts and historical institutions from across India. The new historical sites include the Safdarjung Tomb, Ellora Caves, and Purana Quila, a statement released here said.

These panoramas, collected using Street View technology, are available for viewing on the Google Cultural Institute site. The Google Cultural Institute, an initiative by the search giant, in an effort to make important cultural material available and accessible to everyone and to digitally preserve it to educate and inspire future generations. Read more.

AGRA: In an interesting discovery following excavations carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India recently, remains of a summer palace, presumably a baradari, a pavilion designed to allow free flow of air - have been reportedly found at the centuries-old Mughal-era garden Mehtab Bagh located opposite the Taj Mahal.

The garden was reputedly Shah Jahan’s favourite spot which he used to visit to get a view of the Taj at night, hence it’s name (Mehtab means moonlight in Urdu).

"The remains of the baradari-like structure have been found just opposite the Taj Mahal which strengthens our belief that the Mughal emperor must have built this place to enjoy the view of the Taj sitting near the bank of river. Read more.

Encouraged by the initial findings during trial trenches in the Fort area at Pulicat, north of the city, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has planned a detailed excavation in other parts of the mound, hoping to unravel the antiquarian origins of the site.

The ASI has written to the Tamil Nadu government for acquiring 11 acres on lease as no archaeological excavation has so far been done in this area. “The aim is to study the cultural sequence of the site and identify the layout of Fort Geldira and its remains. We will team up with the Geological Department of Anna University for GPS mapping,” said G. Maheswari, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Chennai Circle. Read more.