Anthropological archaeologist, Dr Sonali Gupta shared her eclectic journey filled with excavations, discoveries, and documentation of artefacts from the Sahara to the Himalayas. She was addressing a virtual conversation – ‘A Journey from the Sahara to the Himalayas – Digging the Past’. It was organised by IAS Association, Rajasthan on their Facebook page. Dr Gupta was in conversation with IAS Literary Secretary, IAS Association, Rajasthan, Ms Mugdha Sinha. Throughout the talk, the archaeologist interwove a narrative through photographs and memories of her wonderful journey.
Dr Gupta said that archaeology is not just about excavations but also understanding how learning and teaching were transmitted. The local community should not be studied as objects but involved in the archaeological process to build a sense of community. Archaeology also involves staying on your toes and thinking out of the box so that the past is not lost and left for others to study. One also starts to value scarce resources that were earlier easily available during the normal course of life. Similarly, youngsters should be involved in the archaeological study to build a better tomorrow. Archaeology engages us with the past and connects us with the people. It also gives an identity to the ancients that died so that no one has an unsung death.
She further said that archaeologists and anthropologists should be a conduit between the Government and the people to conserve heritage. Pro-activeness is very important in this field. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is doing its bit for heritage conservation but further citizen involvement will ensure the work is carried out better. Private institutions should be engaged in generating awareness, training locals by organising workshops as well as creating a smooth relationship to sensitise the people. Youngsters need to be engaged through interactive storytelling to motivate them and create awareness.
It is to be noted that the Department of Art and Culture, Government of Rajasthan plans to collaborate for raising community awareness of archaeological sites in Rajasthan and for training historians, students, Directorate of Archaeology staff and journalists on archaeological ruins and sites.