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The Archaeological Survey of India

  • Date Submitted: 11/12/2010 02:47 AM
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THE Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report of August 2003 is the fifth on the historical topography of Ayodhya. A.E. Cunningham conducted the first survey in Ayodhya in 1862-63 followed by another in 1889-91 by A. Fuhrer. Professor A.K. Narain conducted the third excavation in Ayodhya in 1969-70, and finally, Professor B.B. Lal conducted a more intensive and revealing study of the area in 1975-76.
The intention of Cunningham's survey was to re-locate Buddhist sites and to establish the Buddhist antecedents of Ayodhya. He accepted the association of Ayodhya with the traditions of Rama and asserted that the present-day Ayodhya was the Ayodhya of the Ramayana years. He also concluded that the cities of Visakha, Saketa and Ayodhya were the same (A.E. Cunningham, "Report of the Proceedings of the Archaeological Surveyor to the Government of India for the Season of 1862-63," in Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1865). Fuhrer's report is an extension of the earlier report. He tried to confirm Rajput presence in Ayodhya in the 11th and 12th centuries A.D. by referring to three copper-plate land grants reportedly found in the area (A. Fuhrer, Report of the Archaeological Survey of India (New Series), Volume II, 1891).
Surprisingly, of the three plates only one is known, the other two remain unknown and only facsimile copies of these grants were available to the Asiatic Society of Bengal (Centenary Review of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, From 1784 to 1883, Calcutta,1885).
Narain observed that the excavated sites indicated human habitation as old as the 5th century B.C. He was also convinced that there was evidence of strong Buddhist presence in the area (Indian Archaeology 1969-70 - A Review, page 40). He fixed the antiquity of Ayodhya to early 17th century B.C. Lal excavated the mound of the Babri Masjid and observed "a fairly compact and working sequence for the antiquity of the place from its first settlement over the natural soil". His conclusions were...

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