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Ministry of Culture26-December, 2012 17:59 IST
Exhibition of Antiquities Titled “Rediscovering India: 1961-2011” to Commemorate Completion of 150 Years of Archaeological Survey of India Begins in New Delhi

Minister of Culture Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch here today inaugurated an exhibition of antiquities titled “Rediscovering India: 1961-2011”. Organized by Archaeological Survey of India, the exhibition will remain open for the public till 31st January 2013 between 10:00 to 17:00 hours every day except Monday and Republic Day. Secretary Culture Smt. Sangita Gairola and Director General, ASI Dr. Gautam Sengupta were also present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said, ASI has done pioneer service in the field of archaeological research, conservation, publication and cultural awareness. The fame of ASI has spread beyond our borders and they are being invited for conservation efforts in other countries today. She said, in the last 50 years, ASI has conducted many landmark excavations at sites belonging to almost all major periods of Indian history. The Prehistoric sites of Bhimbetka, Harappan site of Dholavira, early historic site of Sannati, medieval site of Hampi, etc. are only few of a series of significant sites excavated by ASI in the last fifty years.

The Minister said, no research is fruitful unless it is brought to the notice of people and especially the younger generation including school children. One of the important responsibilities of ASI is to familiarise the public with new findings through exhibitions. She said she is delighted to inaugurate “Rediscovering India: 1961-2011” which showcases the contribution of ASI in the last five decades through its exploration and excavation activities. The exhibition covers the period from the prehistoric to the modern age. Visitors will have a rare opportunity to see, at a single place, the original antiquities collected from far off regions of the country.

Established in 1861, Archaeological Survey of India completed 150 years of its glorious existence in 2011. To mark the occasion, year-long celebration was planned by the institution in order to highlight its remarkable achievements in different spheres of activity. The opening function of the celebration was inaugurated on 20.12.2011 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi by the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh who released significant publications on archaeology and honoured some eminent archaeologists. The opening function was followed by a number of activities viz., exhibitions, conferences, seminars, etc. arranged across the length and breadth of India either directly or through its regional offices. The present exhibition is the last in the series and has been organized to showcase the achievements of Archaeological Survey of India in the field of exploration and excavation in the period 1961-2011. This is in continuation of the centenary celebrations in 1961, when the institution had completed a hundred years and an exhibition was organized highlighting the achievements during the said period (1861-1961).

There will be 307 objects on display including some retrieved antiquities and four fibre glass replicas. The antiquities have been selected from all the major periodic divisions of Indian history (prehistory to modern history) and from different regions of the country. In addition there will be some photographs, map, illustrations and explanatory charts and write-ups.

The earliest artifacts in the exhibition are the prehistoric stone tools used by primitive man when he was a hunter/food gatherer. The pottery which first appeared during Neolithic period is also on display. A major attraction is the objects belonging to the Harappan culture which include the inscribed seals, beads, pottery, terracotta figurines, etc. The furrow marks which are the first evidence of agriculture at Kalibangan and the oldest signboard at Dholavira, both discovered through excavations and belonging to Harappan period are photographically displayed. The objects from Megalithic culture are interesting as they were put in the burials under life after death concept. The bronzes from Sirpur (M.P.) belonging to 7th-8th century with Brahmanical and Buddhist affiliation are landmark finds of early medieval period witnessing remarkable metallurgical skills of contemporary artist. The antiquities from early, medieval and modern periods of history are represented by a variety of objects made in terracotta, stone, metal and household utility items, ornaments, weapons, beads, coins, inscriptions, pottery, etc. An outstanding exhibit is the fibre glass replica of a relief panel from Kanaganahalli near Sannati in Karnataka depicting King Asoka with his consort which is the first sculpture of the legendary Mauryan emperor.

The exhibition will bring alive the sequence of human creativity in the Indian context and will thus help in rediscovering India.

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