Set up in 2021, the Centre for Interdisciplinary Archaeological Research is visualized as a state-of-the-art facility that brings archaeology and the sciences together in order to offer new perspectives that will deepen the study of the Indian past.
It proposes to do this through interdisciplinary field-based projects led by Ashoka faculty and students and supported by off-site laboratory work.
Simultaneously, it seeks to introduce a pedagogy that draws on the humanities and the sciences for teaching courses that will help impart field knowledge of archaeological sites and the diverse landscapes of India.
While India takes pride in its rich archaeological heritage, scientific studies of these remains are still very limited, and in many instances, facilities for analysis are also inadequate. Biological remains and artefacts are sent overseas for analysis which limits our ability to expand skilled human resources to recover and preserve the archaeological history of India. The Centre aims to create a facility for such analysis at Ashoka University.
The first all-India field project on the archaeological heritage of forests under the aegis of the Centre has begun at the Bandhavgarh tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh. (see photographs below).
2nd century CE cave in the Bandhavgarh forest
10th century CE Matsya avatara of Vishnu in Bandhavgarh forest
10th century CE epigraph on wall behind the Matsya avatara
The idea of looking at the premodern history of India through habitations in forests is underlined by the documentation that is being done at Bandhavgarh on archaeological and sculptural remains ranging from the 2nd century CE till the 10th century CE.
An ‘Archaeology and Science’ course was taught this semester which brought together renowned archaeologists and scientists from all over India. Next year, a course on ‘Know your Neighbourhood’ (the neighbourhood being Sonipat district) that will impart hands-on training in the field and in the laboratory will be introduced.