The State Archaeology Department of India has recently unveiled its plans to purchase archaeologically important land and artifacts from private owners. As a recent article discussed, these plans are part of the Indian government’s effort to better protect these sites and objects.
According to Archaeology Department Director Dr. G Prema Kumar, “We will request for funds to purchase sites of importance that are now with private parties.” This move raises the question of whether all archaeology needs to be owned by the state in order to be properly protected.
Kumar believes the answer is yes. As she explained, “Usually, movable artifacts are kept in archaeological museums. But unmovable ones like umbrella rocks and rock-cut caves are preserved where they are found . . . At present, if the department notified a monument or a megalithic site, the land rights remain with the land owner. This, in a way, limits the efforts to preserve the monuments. We cannot force them (the land owners) to protect the artifacts. It depends more on their mercy.”