A day of research and learning

Today has been a bizarre day.  A creative procrastination day – if you will. So to get over it, I created a scapple to try and marshall my thoughts.

The result was productive. I have a character: a Doctor Peter Welney; an archaeologist returning from India.  He was a blank canvas. He breaks up a fight. He enjoys playing cards. He’s eminent in his field. After that… nothing. A situation in need of a remedy.

I’m going to be honest here, I knew next to nothing about archaeology in 19th century India. Indeed my knowledge was limited to Neolithic and bronze age archaeology in Europe during year 1 of Uni; and my initial thinking was taking me down the road of those so called archaeologists in Egypt, with their pillaging and looting.

My first port of call (thanks to Google) was to: http://www.ypu.manchester.ac.uk/blog/ancient-egypt-ancient-india-and-the-history-of-archaeology and the  PHD research project of Charlotte Coull. Her page changed my perspective completely and made me want to be as authentic as possible, because … well it has to be.

On her page was a link to the Archaeological survey of India  , and I found myself spending a happy hour looking at the pictures and reading up on the ethos of the archaeologists working in India in the 18th and 19th century.  They were  so different to their Egyptian counterparts. They surveyed. They conserved. They did not do theoretical restorations. Under the command of  James Burgess as Director General of the Archaeological survey there was no digging without permission of the Survey and no disposal of antiquities by public officials. In 1878 there was even a law passed – The Indian Treasure Trove Act, which  meant that anything discovered with a value of 10 rupees or over had to be recorded with a local official.

I still know little about archaeology in India. But I  do know  Peter Welney is no Elgin, or Howard Carter. Which leaves me with a problem. But hey, I wouldn’t be a writer if I didn’t like solving problems