B. B. Lal

Braj Basi Lal (born 2 May 1921[1]), better known as B. B. Lal, is an Indian archaeologist. He was the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) from 1968 to 1972 and has served as Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla. Lal also served on various UNESCO committees.[2]

Braj Basi Lal
Braj Basi Lal

(1921-05-02) 2 May 1921
OccupationArchaeologist, Director-General Archaeological Survey of India (1968 - 1972)
Known forWork on Indus Valley Civilization sites, Mahabharat sites, Kalibangan

He received the Padma Bhushan Award by the Government of India in 2000.[2]

Early life and background

Born in Jhansi, United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, India,[3] Lal obtained his master's degree in Sanskrit, including the Vedas, with a First class degree from Allahabad University, India.[4][5]


After his studies, Lal developed interest in archaeology and in 1943, became a trainee in excavation under a veteran British archaeologist, Mortimer Wheeler, starting with Taxila,[5] and later at sites such as Harappa and Sisupalgarh in Odisha.[6] Lal went on to work as an archaeologist for more than fifty years.

In 1968, he was appointed the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India where he would remain until 1972. Thereafter, Lal served as Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla.[2]

Archaeological work

The Archaeological Survey of India had performed conservation and restoration of Buddhas of Bamiyan, Khwaj Parsa’s Mosque at Balkh and the shrine of Khwaja Abu Naser under R. Sen Gupta and Lal in Afghanistan.[7]

Between 1950-52, Lal worked on the archaeology of sites accounted for in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, including Hastinapura, the capital city of the Kurus. He made discoveries of many Painted Grey Ware (PGW) sites in the Indo‑Gangetic Divide and upper YamunaGanga doab.[6]

In Nubia, the Archaeological Survey of India, Lal and his team discovered Middle and Late Stone Age tools in the terraces of the river Nile near Afyeh. The team excavated a few sites at Afyeh and cemetery of C-group people, where 109 graves would be located.[7][8] Lal worked on Mesolithic site of Birbhanpur (West Bengal), Chalcolithic site of Gilund (Rajasthan) and Harappan site of Kalibangan (Rajasthan).

In 1975-76, Lal worked on the "Archaeology of Ramayana Sites" project funded by the ASI, which excavated five sites mentioned in the Hindu epic Ramayana - Ayodhya, Bharadwaj ashram, Nandigram, Chitrakoot and Shringaverapur. In the seven-page preliminary report submitted to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Lal disclosed the discovery by his team of "pillar bases", immediately south of the Babri mosque structure in Ayodhya.[6][9]

Prof. B. B. Lal has published several books and over 150 research papers and articles in national and international scientific journals.[2][6] In his 2002 book, The Saraswati Flows On, Lal criticised the earlier Aryan invasion/migration theory, arguing that the Rig Vedic description of the Sarasvati River (which dried up by 2000 BCE) as "overflowing" contradicts the claim made by certain previous historians that the Indo-Aryan migration occurred 300 years after they contend the Sarasvati River dried up (in 1500 BCE) and which they also contended had led to the end of the Indus Valley Civilization.[5]

Ayodhya dispute

In Lal's 2008 book, Rāma, His Historicity, Mandir and Setu: Evidence of Literature, Archaeology and Other Sciences, he writes (that):

"Attached to the piers of the Babri Masjid, there were twelve stone pillars, which carried not only typical Hindu motifs and mouldings, but also figures of Hindu deities. It was self-evident that these pillars were not an integral part of the Masjid, but were foreign to it."[10]


The B. B. Lal Chair at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT, Kanpur) has been established in his honour.[11]

The British archaeologists Stuart Piggott and D.H. Gordon describe Copper Hoards of the Gangetic Basin and the Hastinapura Excavation Report, two of Lal's works published in the Journal of the Archaeological Survey of India, as models of research and excavation reporting.[6]


Personal life

Lal continues to live in Delhi.[5] His son Vrajesh Lal is a businessman based in the United States.[2]


See also


  1. "Invitation to the fifth chapter of Sanskriti Samvaad Shrinkhla" (PDF). Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. 19 July 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  2. B. B. Lal Chair at IIT Kanpur Archived 20 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur website.
  3. Coningham, Robin; Young, Ruth (31 August 2015). The Archaeology of South Asia: From the Indus to Asoka, c.6500 BCE–200 CE. Cambridge University Press. p. 83. ISBN 9780521846974. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  4. 'Let not the 19th century paradigms continue to haunt us!' Archived 4 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Inaugural Address delivered at the 19th International Conference on South Asian Archaeology at University of Bologna, Ravenna, Italy on 2–6 July 2007, online link, archaeologyonline.net
  5. "Archaeologist B.B. Lal talks about his book 'The Saraswati Flows On' : Books". India Today. 12 November 2001. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  6. Book review by Dr. V. N. Misra, Book review of The Saraswati Flows on: the Continuity of Indian Culture, by Chairman of Indian Society for Prehistoric and Quaternary Studies journal Man and Environment; (vol. XXVI, No. 2, July–December 2001)
  7. Archaeological endeavours abroad, Archaeological Survey of India Official website.
  8. Winters C. "A comparison of Fulani and Nadar HLA". Indian J Hum Genet. 18: 137–8. doi:10.4103/0971-6866.96686. PMC 3385173. PMID 22754242.
  9. "I found pillar bases back in mid-seventies: Prof Lal". Indian Express. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  10. "Ayodhya: High Court relies on ASI's 2003 report". Economic Times. 1 October 2010. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  11. "Faculty Chairs". IIT Kanpur. Archived from the original on 18 February 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  12. "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2009)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 May 2013.
  13. Memoirs, On Excavations, Indus Seals, Art, Structural and Chemical Conservation of Monumets, Archaeological Survey of India Official website.


Preceded by
Amalananda Ghosh
Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India
1968 - 1972
Succeeded by
M. N. Deshpande

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.