John Marshall’s was the first professional archaeologist to work in India. His tenure as the Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) brought about many significant changes in the Indian archaeology. He had vast experience of working in Greece and Crete. He combined all these experiences while working in the ASI into the field. He was interested not only in the discovery in spectacular finds but was also equally interested to look for patterns of the daily life of the people.
Before the discovery of the Harappan sites, archaeologists believed that civilisation in India sated with the cities in the Ganga valley. But the discovery of seals and artefacts toppled this theory. The first of the seals discovered from Harappa was given to Cunningham, the first Director-General of the ASI. With the subsequent discovery of seals and artefacts by archaeologists during the early decades of the 20th century in layers that were older than Early Historic levels, the significance of the site was realised. The discovery of similar artefacts in Mohenjodaro by Rakhal Das Banerji strengthened the importance of the findings.
Based on all the finds, John Marshall, the Director General of the ASI, announced the discovery of a new civilisation in the Indus valley in 1924. The excavations in all these sites progressed under his leadership and instructions.
But Marshall excavated along regular horizontal units and measured uniformly throughout the mound. He completely ignores the stratigraphy, layers and structure of the site. Thus all the artefacts recovered from the same site were grouped together, even though they were excavated from different stratigraphic layers. As a result, much of the valuable information about the context of these finds stands permanently lost.
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