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Archaeology Publication

Archaeological Survey of India: The Soft Power of Conservation

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The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was set up in 1861 to preserve and conserve sites of national importance. Over the years, it has been the custodian of 3,677 monuments and archaeological sites in India.


They has also excavated sites and restored monuments in many foreign countries and in the process has brought back to life the historical and civilizational links that India cherished and nourished with its neighbors and others beyond the neighborhood. This photo feature highlights some of the outstanding conservation efforts of ASI beyond our borders.



Cambodia


The conservation of the 12th Century Angkor Wat temples between 1986 and 1992 are perhaps the most outstanding project that the ASI has undertaken outside India. More recently, it restored the Ta Prohm temple which is considered the most significant of the temples of the Angkor region.




Lao PDRASI has conserved and restored the fifth century Vat or Wat Phou Hindu temple complex in southern Laos.





Myanmar


The ASI has undertaken conservation and restoration of the Ananda temple in Bagan. It has prepared a list of 2,230 monuments and 892 unexcavated ancient mounds in the area.


Bahrain


A team of ASI archaeologists excavated burial mounds (in the picture) in Hamad town in Bahrain in 1983. It excavated 70 graves, six Indus seals, and a circular steatite seal with Indus script.



Angola


An ASI team restored and reorganized the Museum of the Armed Forces located inside the 17th-century fortress of Sao Miguel (picture) in Luanda in 1988-89. The team rearranged exhibits in Prehistory, Portuguese, Comrade Agostinho Neto, and Struggle for Independence Galleries.


Nepal


In the early 1960s, ASI teams excavated Buddhist archaeological sites in Sidharthanagar, Kapilvastu, Tilaurakot, and Lumbini (in the picture). In 1965, another team carried out an iconographical survey to discover rare images like Shiva as Ekpada-Trimurti, Chandra riding on a chariot of geese, Mahesha-samhara, etc.


Afghanistan


The ASI conserved and restored the sixth-century Buddhas of Bamiyan and the 15th-century mosque at Balkh of Sufi leader Khwaja Abu Nasr Parsa in the 1960s. The Bamiyan Buddhas were destroyed in March 2001. The mosque at Balkh still stands. Teams also explored Harappan, Buddhist, and Asokan sites.


Maldives


ASI teams have excavated sites in Kuramathi, Todd, and Nilandhe atolls which revealed Buddhist traits. Here you see the ruins of a Buddhist settlement found on a Maldivian island.




Sri Lanka


The ASI has recently undertaken the restoration of the Thiruketheeswaram temple in Mannar. The ancient temple was demolished by foreign colonizers in the 16th century. It was rebuilt in 1903 but suffered damages during the civil war



Bhutan


The ASI teams carried out the preservation of murals of Do de Drak, Nekhang- Lhakhang, and Mithragpe- Lhakhang of Tongsa Dzong in the late 1980s. Here you see the fortress of Tongsa Dzong.




Egypt


In the early 1960s, an ASI team visited Nubia to explore, excavate, and salvage any ancient artifacts around Afyeh and Tumus. The two sites were falling in the submergence zone of the Sadd-el-Aali (Aswan) dam on the river Nile. The team discovered middle and late stone age tools.


Vietnam and Indonesia An ASI team has inspected the Mỹ Sơn group of temples (in the picture) in Vietnam and submitted a project report for conservation measures. A Survey team also visited the famous ancient Hindu temple at Borbudur to document it extensively.



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