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Tue. Oct 4th, 2022
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NEW DELHI: Veteran archaeologist and Padma Vibhushan awardee Brij Basi Lal, who led the excavation of the Ram Janambhoomi site in Ayodhya in the mid-1970s, died on Saturday. He was 101.
Lal, who served as the director general of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) from 1968 to 1972, evolved the theory of the temple-like pillars in Ayodhya, which was recognised as the “interpretive framework” of the court-appointed excavation team in 2002. He also a spent considerable part of his career working on the Harappan civilisations and sites believed to be associated with ‘The Mahabharata’.
Paying rich tributes to Lal, PM Narendra Modi tweeted: “Shri B B Lal was an outstanding personality. His contributions to culture and archaeology are unparalleled. He will be remem-bered as a great intellectual who deepened our connect with our rich past. Pained by his demise. ”
Lal, who authored several books that became part of curricula of several universities and was one of the youngest directors general of ASI, began his career in 1943 as a trainee under renowned British archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler. He began work from site of Taxila and in the course ofhis career spanning over 50 years, wrote 50 books and 150 research papers published in national and international journals.
Some of his most notable books include, ‘The Saraswati flows on: The continuity of Indian culture’ published in 2002, and ‘Rama, His Historicity, Mandir and Setu: Evidence of Literature, Archaeology and other Sciences’ published in 2008.
Between 1950 and 1952, Lal excavated a number of sites believed to be associated with ‘The Mahabharata’, where he discovered a number of Painted Grey Ware sites in the Indo-Gangetic divide and upper Yamuna-Ganga Doab. In a paper, Lal summarised his findings as “the available archaeological evidence tends to indicate there did exist a basis for the Mahabharata story, which no doubt got immensely inflated during the course of time”.

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