Archaeological Survey of India

Archaeological Survey of India was established in the middle of the nineteenth century (1861CE) for carrying out archaeological activities and researches in the country. It is an important department of the Government of India, attached to the Ministry of Culture. Major General Alexander Cunningham was the first Surveyor General of the Archaeological Survey of India who carried out extensive archaeological explorations in North India and was crucial for the reconstruction of the ancient Indian history as we understand it today.

Cunningham successfully identified several archaeological sites mentioned in the travelogues of Chinese pilgrims, Fa- Hien and Hiuen-Tsang. He discovered Bharhut stupa, conserved the temple of Bodh Gaya, discovered ancient coin hoards in Taxila, compiled a catalog of Indo- Greek artefacts from Western India and started publications of Indian Antiquity or Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum. Cunningham is known as the “Father of Indian Archaeology” for establishing the subject on a firm footing. After Cunningham, several internationally acclaimed archaeologists such as James Burgess, Sir John Marshall, Shri Amalananda Ghosh, B.B. Lal, Debala Mitra acted as Directors General of the Archaeological Survey of India. Recently in the year 2011 the department completed 150 years of its existence.

During these 150 years the Survey not only preserved, conserved valuable cultural and archaeological heritage of our country but also surveyed, explored, excavated and discovered vestiges of the Nation’s legacies in different provinces. It has extended its services to various foreign countries in excavations, conservation and preservation activities. Archaeological Survey of India regularly supports Indian Universities in archaeological activities, publication of high level archaeological researches, imparts training in archaeology through its own training institute, conducts cultural awareness programmes, preserves, and conserves World Heritage sites and monuments and sites of national importance.

Different Divisions of the Survey
Different offices of the Archaeological Survey of India(Circles, Excavation Branches, Epigraphy, Science and Horticulture Wings, Temple & Building Survey Projects, Customs and Antiquity Branch etc.) are engaged in studies and researches, preservation, conservation of monuments and sites of national importance, World Heritage sites as well as observance of heritage related legislations. A large number of highly trained archaeologists, conservation scientists, Epigraphists, Chemists, Engineer, horticulturists, architects and other technicians are working in the Department.

Excavation Branches
Currently the Archaeological Survey of India is having six branches for conducting explorations and excavations in the country. Excavation branches are engaged in archaeological researches involving field techniques and interpretation of these findings from such researches. Excavation Branches have contributed significantly in adding new data, reconstructed and expanding the historical horizon of the Nation. Few important sites excavated by the branches are: Dholavira,Banawali, Rakhigarhi, Vikramshila (Antichak), Rajagriha, Viashali, Sravasti, Kondapur etc..