The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided to put excavations at Purana Qila on hold till next winter. Though fruitful, the current excavation work is yet to achieve its main target of unearthing the earliest deposits, the heritage conservation agency said.
Superintendent Archaeologist (Delhi circle) Vasant Kumar said excessive heat during the day and the spell of showers have made it difficult to work at the excavation site. “We will stop work in a few days. It’s too hot for the workers. The monsoon also poses a threat to antiquities. The weather has been very erratic in the last few days — excessive heat followed by rain,” he said.
The ASI has deployed around 80 workers at the excavation site where digging began in January. Kumar said the ASI will now cover the excavation site to protect it from any damage that may be caused by the weather and reopen it next year after the onset of winter. Maintaining that the excavation has been fruitful, Kumar said a rare ring well dating to the Mauryan period was discovered recently. In Mauryan times, terracotta ring wells were constructed around freshwater wells to work as soak pits.
“We have also found artifacts and antiquities from the Mauryan, Kushan, Gupta, late Gupta, Rajput and Sultanate periods. So, our objective of understanding and unearthing different cultural layers was fulfilled,” Kumar said. But the main target — to know the earliest deposits — is still to be achieved.
“In days from now, we will cover the structure as these pieces can be damaged. During the monsoon, since we cannot do much outdoor work, we will focus on research and documentation of antiquities at our research centres,” he said. The ASI also has tie-ups with several laboratories, including IITs and physical research labs, to ascertain the age of samples found. According to Kumar, carbon-dating techniques will be employed.