Recent Trends in Indian Archaeology*
I am extremely grateful to the Executive Committee and office bearers of ASHA for inviting me to give the key-note address at its second Annual Session at Aligarh. My sense of obligation is based on two reasons,, firstly, because ASHA is an academic body with a difference, and, secondly, because it has provided me with an opportunity to share my recent ideas with the learned historians and archaeologists. Although archaeological researches have a long history in India, it was Sir Mortimer Wheeler, Director General, Archaeological Survey 6f India from 1944 to 1948, who really introduced the latest scientific methods of archaeology here. His contribution to the science of archaeology in India has been well brought .out by Graham Clark (Sir Mortimer and Indian Archaeology, Calcutta, 1979). His concern for stratigraphical digging, accurate recording, wider collection of data and the use of sciences as ancillary aids to archaeological researches have earned appreciation from all researchers in the field. But what is even more important was his emphasis on problem-oriented research, long-term planning and the training of researchers. His oft-repeated warning was that the archaeologist's aim should not be simply to dig but to discover the people behind the remains he excavates. Clark has called him a "pioneer in science-based archaeology". Besides making good-use of other scientific disciplines, Wheeler strongly believed that archaeology is basically a historical discipline. The value of archaeology, according to him, lay in the enlargement of human consciousness.
Although archaeology has greatly advanced since Wheeler's age, through the efforts of processualists and archaeologists following the historical approach, his method of data collection through stratigraphical digging, accuracy in recording and scientific, empirical approach still deserves commendation.
India's Independence released tremendous energy in different spheres of national life. Archaeological researches were no exception. Vertical excavations in the fifties resulted in the accumulation of vast archaeological evidence and information. B. Subbarao synthesized the information in a coherent account of the personality India (revised, 1958).
* Former Professor of History at Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra.
** Presidential Address: second ASHA (Association for the Study of History and Archeology) Conference, Aligarh, June 1996.
Social Scientist, Vol. 25, Nos. 1-2, January-February 1997