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Call for more ties between India, Sri Lanka in archaeology

T. Ramakrishnan

Tuesday 18 May 2004

CHENNAI, MAY 18. Developing countries should accord top priority to human resource development in archaeology, according to Siran Upendra Deraniyagala, senior consultant to the Sri Lankan Government in archaeology.

"Some of the standards adopted by us may be good. But some others may not be so. Therefore, there has to be acute and constant evaluation of the quality of human resources employed in the field," Dr. Deraniyagala told The Hindu today.

He emphasised that excavations and conservation had to be done by "our own people" but deficiencies in skills of the local archaeologists had to be identified and remedied. This should be done without a parochial bias.

For this purpose, even international experts could be employed.

Attention had to be given to the capacity building of archaeologists. Universities should see to it that those required for proper management of heritage were adequately equipped, he said.

Calling for greater collaboration between Sri Lanka and India, he said pre-historic to the early Iron Age and early historic period could be covered. Indian participation was required for analysing pre-historic archaeological materials.

The sand deposits in parts of the island nation and in parts of Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, were identical. Using modern techniques, the period for such deposits could be determined.

Dr. Derinayagala said the ancient port city of Mantai in Sri Lanka formed the subject for the tie-up in the early 1980s.

But this was grounded because of the ethnic problem. He expressed the hope that the project would be revived soon.

Asked if he had taken the initiative for any collaborative venture with Indian archaeologists, Dr. Derinayagala, who headed the Archaeological Survey Department in 1992-2001, said he had focussed on putting his department on a sound footing before going in for any such partnership.

According to him, the emergence of a sophisticated religion, such as Buddhism, must have been preceded by a sophisticated civilisation.

"The more you become civilised, the more you suffer," he remarked, saying that the early historic period received less attention as compared to the Harappan period.

Dr. Derinayagala said archaeology was not attracting talented persons as there was not much money in it. To a query, he said archaeology was seen as a field not directly related to economic development.

However, this could be corrected by promoting heritage sites at the global level for attracting investment.

See online : Ther Hindu

P.S.

in The Hindu, Tuesday, May 18, 2004.

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