Department of Archaeology and Ancient History:
The Department of Archaeology and Ancient History has a history of six decades. Founded in 1950 as a part of the Department of History, the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History obtained an independent status in 1953. The aim of the department is to make the study of Archaeology inter-disciplinary. The department while focusing for its research in western India has achieved not only a regional but also an international stature. The department has a distinction of being one of the few in the country to offer Archaeology as a subject at the Under Graduate level. Foundation and advanced level courses are offered in Archaeology, Ancient History and Anthropology. The department utilizes various mechanisms for the further generation of knowledge, such as field expeditions, practical and the writing of a dissertation, particularly at the Post-Graduate level. The faculties have been able to make use of the department’s audio-visual infrastructure to provide an interactive, visually rewarding learning experience. Vocational course in Tourism and Travel Management is also conducted by the department at the behest of the University Grants Commission. Research undertaken by the department has contributed to the development of the discipline of Archaeology in the country. The department, through its regular exploration and excavation programme, has been able to cover practically the whole of Gujarat, so that we now have an excellent picture of Gujarat and its regions through the prehistoric, proto-historic, early historic and medieval periods. As the department is actively engaged in field expeditions, which also forms a part of the Post-Graduate course, complete infrastructure is available in the form of technical staff and field and camp equipment. Apart from exploration and excavation, which has provided information on the ancient use of the landscape and settlement history, the data generated has fuelled analytical research necessary to provide a more concrete picture of human antiquity. Thus, studies revolving around certain materials have enabled a historical understanding of the ancient technologies of bead making, shell working, metal working (involving zinc, copper and iron) as well as the manufacturing of ceramic and lithic artifacts. Further infrastructure to facilitate research and for the conservation and preservation of archaeological materials is provided in its laboratories. Currently, the laboratories have sophisticated equipment including particle-size analyzer, atomic absorption spectrophotometer and polarizing microscopes with accessories. The department has a laboratory for ceramic petrology, which is one of its kinds in the country. This department is also one of the few in the university to have Local Area Network of computers. Basic facilities for the processing of photographic material are available, not only for the recording of site features and antiquities but also to facilitate teaching. The Department of Archaeology and Ancient History has been able to consistently publish the results of research in the form of articles, monographs and books. Four publications by the members of the faculty have achieved widespread recognition. These are Personality of India by B. Subbarao, Indian Civilization, The Formative Period by S.C. Malik, The Prehistory and Palaeogeography of the Great Indian Desert by B. Allchin, A. Goudie and K.T.M. Hegde and Medieval Archaeology by R.N. Mehta. Apart from publishing the results of its own research, the department aims at building up a collection of books related to Archaeology and affiliated disciplines. The department has a separate library. The department’s aim is that knowledge should not be confined. The dissemination of knowledge relating to human antiquity and cultural development is provided at formal and informal levels through the departmental museum. Antiquities from the department collection are also lent to form part of national and international exhibitions. The department is privileged to include in its collection valuable antiquities of which the most famous are the relics of the Lord Buddha. Ongoing research interests at the departmental and individual levels include studies relating to Palaeoenvironment and human adaptations, understanding of the regional elements of Chalcolithic history of Gujarat as well as artifact analyses and interpretation.