News & Notes 724:Auroville’s Archaeology ‒ An Overview and Future Prospects

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724 icon.jpg   News & Notes 724
18 November 2017

Auroville’s Archaeology: An Overview and Future Prospects

Over 42 years of continuous archaeological explorations we have completed 26 excavations. This excavated area comprises 6-8 acres of the nearly 60 acres of Auroville land that shows evidence of archaeological sites. In 2005 we made a study of megalithic burial sites within 15-20 kms around Auroville. Frustratingly, 50-75% of the sites have been devastated by agriculture and other developments. We have saved, documented and mapped what otherwise would have been lost to Auroville and other construction and development – lost along with the only heritage messages from the inhabitants who lived here 2000 years ago.

Numerous finds have been saved and restored, including iron implements of all kinds (agriculture, household, warfare), bronze religious objects (like chalices with small indigenous sculptured animals on their top cover), ornaments, bells, tridents, and thousands of beads for necklaces in glass, carnelian, onyx, lapis-lazuli, crystal and gold-leaf. The main bulk of the finds are ceramic and terracotta and 10-15% of these have been restored. All these have been documented, categorized, listed and safely stored in hundreds of insect-and-rodent proof boxes.

The institutions with whom we collaborated are: Archaeological Survey of India; Government Museum Pondicherry; Physical Research Laboratory Ahmedabad; INTACH; Center for Bead Research, New York; Rathgen Forschungslabor Berlin; Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Mumbai; and the Westfälisches Museum für Archäologie (Münster, Herne, Paderborn) Germany.

The many donors and grant organisations were: Auroservice d’Auroville Trust; INTACH; Matrimandir; Center for Indian Culture; SAIIER; Auromics; Maroma; Auroville Development Scheme; Stichting De Zaiier; Auroville Central Fund; Savitri Bhavan; Government of India; and private and personal funding.

A Vision for Museum of Archaeology in Auroville

The idea of building a community-style museum with a hands-on educational approach was discussed in the 70s, when we excavated the first terracotta urns. The Museum is planned to be built with the most contemporary museum design principles and will emphasize experiential learning and pedagogical principles that earlier museums ignored for the more traditional visual and intellectual principles that early museums favoured. Auroville’s Museum of Archaeology will be ‘hands-on’, with opportunities to walk through underground sites, peepholes to view 2000 year-old civilisations, objects to be touched and smelt, workshops to learn pottery/blacksmithy/weaving/bead making/ and how to hunt with a bow and arrow and much more. It will create multiple interactions with surrounding educational and research institutions and, indeed, with institutions in this field all over India.

There is scope for archaeological research and excavation in the area of Auroville for at least the next 200 years!

All it needs is regular funding.

Poppo for the Auroville Museum of Archaeology