Thursday, June 23, 2011

All future, no past TOI Crest Aug 7, 2010, 01.08pm IST

India's archaeological heritage means different things to different people. Those of us who have made a career out of the study of history see such relics as a means of animating the dead past. As Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska so unforgettably put it in her poem, Archaeology, "Show me whatever and I'll tell you who you were... I'll read your views from the sockets of your eyes."
In large parts of India, on the other hand, people visualise and valourise material traces of past life-ways not as the dead past but as an integral element of their living present. In this process, they also actively transform the meanings that academics and archaeologists read into them.
And then there is the state, which sees itself as the legal guardian of this heritage — the central act, state provisions and local legislation which govern the preservation of monuments and archaeological sites make this reasonably clear...........................

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