article with picture re: archeology on Babri masjid site

Jan E.M. Houben jemhouben at GMAIL.COM
Fri Oct 15 06:08:50 UTC 2010

Dear Dominik,
let's try, here an article with image.

This seems an opportune moment to raise a point that was discussed in the
INDOLOGY committee a few months ago, but that we haven't yet acted upon.
The committee wishes to allow attachments to postings in this forum, at
least for a trial period.  Times have changed, disks are bigger, and
INDOLOGY's members are now selected, which should prevent giant postings
from advertisers.  Job postings are welcome, and no longer have to be
converted to unformatted text.  Images can be posted.

And we can all enjoy the benefit of seeing Allen's intriguing bibliography!

As of now, therefore, attachments are permitted.


[image: Print] [image:

*Writing on the WALL *

Two archaeologists have had a run-in with the law for their book on the
Babri masjid site

*Pronoti Datta | TNN *

In 1968,archaeologist Shereen Ratnagar travelled to Ashvan in Turkey to
participate in an excavation.Her professor pointed to a wall and a floor and
instructed the nervous young woman to identify which was older.On
hindsight,the moment seems prophetic.In 2003,when Ratnagar and fellow
archaeologist D Mandal surveyed the Archaeological Survey of Indias (ASI)
excavation of the Babri Masjid site,one of their most significant
discoveries involved the vintage of a wall and a floor.
The two archaeologists spent a day examining the site in order to verify the
ASI report on behalf of the Sunni Waqf Board in 2003.Four years later,they
published a highly critical appraisal of the ASIs work in a book titled
Ayodhya: Archaeology After Excavation.In April 2010,three years after the
publication of the book,the Allahabad high court considered the authors and
their publisher Tulika Books in contempt of court.The court objected to the
authors,who are also witnesses in the case,expressing their opinion on a
matter that was still being tried.The judges also verbally ordered the
publisher to recall all unsold copies of the book.I feel there has been an
injustice, says Ratnagar,a specialist in the Harappan civilisation who
taught archaeology at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) for 22 years before
retiring in 2000.But I respect judicial procedure and I have to be silent
till the case comes to a resolution. Shes frustrated that as the case
continues to hang in the balance,she cant express her views on Ayodhya as
freely as her peers.
It was recently reported that Sudhir Agarwal,one of the judges at the
Allahabad high court,criticised some of witnesses for the Waqf
Board.Ratnagar,it was said,admitted not having any experience on the
field.However the archaeologist says that she has participated in
excavations in India,England,Iraq and Bahrain.
Before tearing into the ASI report,the book outlines the history of the
dispute.Its a context that has always been politically charged,right from
1853 when records show that Hindu ascetics captured the premises of the
mosque declaring that it stood on Rams birthplace.Colonial records from the
mid- and late-nineteenth century,in what was perhaps a political
move,support the Hindu claim that Baburs general Mir Baqi destroyed a temple
to build the mosque.In 1949,the controversy flared up afresh when idols of
Ram and Sita were secretly installed inside the mosque.The district
magistrate insisted the idols remain and ordered the mosque shut.In
1986,Rajiv Gandhi controversially opened the locks and allowed a shilanyas
on the premises of the mosque.Four years later,L K Advanis rath yatra for
the construction of a temple led to the mosques demolition in 1992.
Mandal and Ratnagar have criticised both the ASIs methods of working and the
conclusions it has drawn.The authors have found fault with the way the ASI
established the chronology of the successive periods of habitation on the
site.Archaeological finds such as pieces of pottery were not classified
correctly and the site itself was strewn with debris.They write that finds
such as glazed tiles and animal bones were not correctly tabled.A number of
verdict critics believe that the presence of bones suggests that the
excavated structure was not a temple.The writers argue that the bones were
part of landfills.If it was a temple,then the soil would have been sieved
and the bones removed.But since there is no proof of this,the site cannot be
a temple.Its also possible that the inhabitants were non-vegetarian.Yet,some
people seem to be rather opposed to acknowledging this fact.This might be
one of the reasons for the suppression of details in the (ASI) Report
pertaining to the recovery of animal bones, Mandal and Ratnagar write.
The fifty pillars bases have also been widely debated.Supporters of the
temple theory believe that the bases suggest the presence of a
temple.However,Vidula Jayaswal,a professor in Benares Hindu Universitys
department of ancient Indian history,culture and archaeology,who reviewed
Ayodhya agrees with the ASIs interpretation.Its an architectural feature of
the Gupta period, she points out.Pillars were put above brick cushions.
But,archaeologically one cannot prove that it was Ram Janmabhoomi.Mandal and
Ratnagar assert that the pillar bases are clumps of bricks that are too
feeble to support the weight of pillars and their view is widely supported
by archaeologists and historians who reject the temple theory.In a review of
the book,M S Mate,a former professor of archaeology at Deccan College,points
out that the layout of the pillar bases are not at all conducive to temple
One of the duos most important discoveries was that the floor of the
purported temple was actually of the same age as the mosque,as it ran up to
the face of the mosque wall.Theres also no evidence that the mosque was
built on the foundations of a structure that had been destroyed.This leads
the authors to vociferously conclude that the site bears evidence not of a
destruction that took place in the 16th century,but of vandalism in the 20th

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