Archaeological Survey of India [ASI]

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 16, 2022, 9:16

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is an organisation that is often spotted in the news for its discoveries and research activities. It is a branch of the Ministry of Culture that aims to protect the cultural heritage and surveying and study India's antiquary remains.

ASI is a foremost institution for archaeological research. The prime concern of ASI is to maintain the archaeological sites and ancient monuments to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the country.

What is the Archaeological Survey of India?

In 1861, the Archaeological Survey of India was founded by Alexander Cunningham, also known as the Father of Indian Archaeology. This organisation is accountable for the archaeological research of the nation and the preservation, conservation, and protection of historical monuments and the nation's heritage.

The Archaeological Survey of India Headquarters is in New Delhi. ASI has about 24 regional Circles and 5 Regional Directorates. It is a branch of the Ministry of Culture that regulates all archaeological research and activities in the nation as per the AMASR Act (Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act) 1958.

The Archaeological Survey of India also regulates the Antiques and Art Treasure Act 1972. It protects and preserves more than 3500 archaeological sites and historical monuments and remains of national importance. The Director-General leads all the activities of the ASI.

Formation of the Archaeological Survey of India

Sir Alexander Cunningham, who was the First Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, excavated the sites and monuments of India and then realised the need for a permanent institution to supervise the archaeological conservation and excavations of the heritage of the nation.

The Archaeological Survey of India was a statutory body after independence. It is an important institution that aims to preserve, conserve, protect and environmentally develop the protected sites and antiquaries of the nation.

ASI explores, excavates, protects, conserves, and preserves the sites and monuments of National and International Importance, including World Heritage Monuments and Antiquities. It is the inheritor of The Asiatic Society of India. ASI performs specialised research and study of various phases and inscriptions of Indian architecture.

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Activities Undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India [ASI]

The Archaeological Survey of India is a specialised body that undertakes various activities to preserve, protect, and conserve the historical antiquities of the nation. The following are the activities that ASI performs:

  • Conserve, maintain, protect, and preserve archaeological sites and protected monuments.
  • Maintenance and setting up of Archaeological site Museums.
  • Conducting archaeological research, survey, exploration, and excavations.
  • Engage in the chemical protection of antiquarians and monuments.
  • Engage in horticultural operations.
  • Provide training in archaeology.
  • Publish material in archaeology.
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Sites and Monuments Protected By Archaeological Survey of India [ASI]

More than 3500 archaeological sites and ancient monuments are currently under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India. The latest excavated site is the Harsha-ka-Tila at Thanesar in Haryana.

The ASI has around 30 circles. These circles have divided the whole country to protect and maintain antiquities and go through archaeological work.

Under the AMASR Act 1958, the Archaeological Survey of India was a statutory body after independence. Besides ASI, in some states, the conservation of monuments and archaeological work of India is also implemented by the state government's archaeological department.

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FAQs on Archaeological Survey of India [ASI]

Q1) How many sites and monuments are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India?

According to research, more than 3500 archaeological sites and ancient monuments are currently under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India.

Q2) What is the primary activity of the Archaeological Survey of India?

The Archaeological Survey of India explores, excavates, protects, conserves, and preserves the sites and monuments of National and International Importance, including World Heritage Monuments and Antiquities.

Q3) Where is the headquarters of the Archaeological Survey of India?

Archaeological Survey of India headquarters is in New Delhi.

Q4) Who was the first director-general of the Archaeological Survey of India?

Sir Alexander Cunningham was the first director-general of the Archaeological Survey of India.

Q5) What Is the Archaeological Survey of India?

The Archaeological Survey of India is accountable for the archaeological research of the nation and the preservation, conservation, and protection of historical monuments and the nation's heritage.