Digging up the past

The university of Mumbai is all set to host a group of history buffs tomorrow. With a mock trench dug up right opposite the health centre building, the Kalina campus is sure to abound with archaeologists and curious students alike.

The Centre of Extra Mural Studies at the university has declared December 10 as Archaeology Day in the hope of popularising archaeology. “The idea is to spread awareness about the subject. We want to introduce students to the various branches of archaeology, job opportunities, and so on,” explains Kurush Dalal, assistant professor of Archaeology, Centre for Extra Mural Studies (CEMS), University of Mumbai.

One of Shubha Khandekar’s cartoons, which will be on display at the university campus

One of the main draws, adds Dalal, is going to be the mock trench. “We have dug up a square trench, where we have placed bones, metal objects, stone implements and so on. Onlookers will get an idea about what it is like to dig in a real trench,” he says.

But the trench isn’t the only attraction at the event. Volunteer and part-time archaeology student Shubha Khandekar, who uploads one cartoon every Friday on her Facebook page Archaeogiri, is displaying a bunch of her cartoons at the venue, too. “The cartoons are all based on archaeology and history,” says the history buff, who uses Microsoft Paint to draw these cartoons and caricatures.

There will be a total of 10 stalls set up at the university, which people can visit all through the day. Souvenir stalls will sell replicas of the famous Harappa figures and seals, and bookmarks embellished with your name in the Brahmi or Kharoshti script.

Another stall will host introductory sessions on the Brahmi and Kharoshti scripts. “These ancient Indian scripts have been found on the walls of Buddhist caves,” explains Mugdha Karnik, director, CEMS, University of Mumbai. “Anyone interested to know more about the scripts can visit the stall and listen to our volunteers, who include current and former students, speak about them. Those keen to know more can register for an intensive workshop,” says Karnik. Apart from the language workshops, history buffs can also sign up for a stone tools workshop.

December 10 is the birth anniversary of well-known archaeologist Padmabhushan Dr HD Sankalia. “We’re hoping to make this an annual event in Mumbai and also host celebrations in other cities across India,” says Karnik.

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