Anthropology and Archaeology

Anthropology is the scientific study of humanity in the widest possible sense. Anthropologists study human beings as biological organisms and as people with a distinctive and unique characteristic—culture. archaeologists study past societies, with the help of excavations and site surveys yielding the material remains of human behavior in the past—stone tools, pot fragments, broken animal bones, and so on—all manufactured or modified by deliberate actions possibly centuries, even millennia, ago. The archaeologist links these material remains to actual human behavior by developing theoretical models to explain such behavior and cultural change over long periods of time. By studying ancient societies, archaeologists are also studying human history.
The realization that archaeological sites were vanishing rapidly, Archaeology itself changed character, as pure academic research gave way to field and laboratory research aimed at assessing and preserving the past and also mitigating the effects of construction and other activities. Such cultural resource management (CRM) is a type of archaeology concerned with the management and assessment of the significance of cultural resources sites and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation. Maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance is the prime concern which is done according to the division into 24 Circles by the Archaeological survey by trained archaeologists, conservators, epigraphist, architects and scientists for conducting archaeological research projects through its Circles, Museums, Excavation Branches, Prehistory Branch, Epigraphy Branches, Science Branch, Horticulture Branch, Building Survey Project, Temple Survey Projects and Underwater Archaeology Wing. India has an extraordinarily rich, vast and diverse cultural heritage in the form of built heritage, archaeological sites and remains since prehistoric times. The sheer magnitude in number alone is overwhelming and these are the symbols of both cultural expression and evolution. There now appears to prevail a fundamental lack of knowledge, understanding and, perhaps, interest in our past: in what constitutes the heritage of India, the process that governed its coming into being, and how this heritage relates to the people. Its manifestations expressed in cultural forms are losing their traditional essence.
There is, however, no comprehensive record in the form of database where such archaeological resources in terms of built heritage, sites and antiquities can be referred. As a result this finite, non-renewable and irreversible resource of our country is fast disappearing without any record for the posterity. Therefore there is an urgent need for a proper survey of such resources, and based on that an appropriate archaeological heritage resource management and policy can be formulated. Thus we require the Anthropological approach of ethnographic documentation to save these sites and the lore involved from being lost forever.

By Abir Lal Mazumder