Statement on ASI report on Ayodhya Excavation ASI REPORT

There are several problems with the Report submitted by the ASI on the excavations conducted at Ayodhya between March and August 2003. The most glaring is the chronological sequence proposed for the occupational deposits of the upper layers. For example, Period V described as Post Gupta-Rajput is assigned between the 7th and 10th centuries AD; Period VI (Medieval-Sultanate) as 11-12th centuries AD and Period VII (Medieval from the end of the 12th century to the beginning of the 16th century AD). What is pertinent is that it is from these periods that non-residential/public structures have been reported. In order to ascribe dates to the various structures, the associated artefacts and the relevant strata have to be taken into consideration. Yet, on p. 271 it is mentioned that “during and after Period IV (Gupta level) onwards upto Period IX (late and post-Mughal level) that the regular habitation deposits disappear in the concerned levels and the structural phases are associated with either structural debris or filling material taken out from the adjoining area to level the ground for construction. As a result of which much of the earlier material in the form of pottery, terracottas, and other objects of preceding periods, particularly of Period I (NBPW level) and Period III (Kushana level) are found in the deposits of later periods mixed along with the contemporary material.”  This mixed up material includes NBPW, terracotta figurines, brick and stone fragments, glazed pottery, glazed tiles and animal bones. Thus, the artefacts of different periods are all mixed up and cannot be used to date these structures. However, some of this material appears to have beeen used by the ASI to date these levels. One cannot in this situation selectively use some of the artefacts for dating and exclude others.

It has been averred on p. 272 that “viewing in totality and taking into account the archaeological evidence of a massive structure just below the disputed structure and evidence of continuity in structural phases from the 10th century onwards upto the construction of the disputed structure along with the yield of stone and decorated bricks as well as mutilated sculpture of divine couple, and carved architectural members including foliage patterns, amalaka, kapotapali, doorjamb, semi-circular pilaster, broken octagonal shaft of black


schist pillar, lotus motifs, circular shrine having pranala (water chute) in the north, fifty pillar bases in association of the huge structure, are indicative of remains which are distinctive features found associated with the temples of north India.”  Thus, the suggestion is that from the 10th century onwards the site had a shrine, followed by a temple with different structural phases. Yet on p. 270, it is clearly mentioned, that “animal bones have been recovered from various levels of different periods.”  So, if there was a shrine and a temple at this site, how do we account for the presence of animal bones? Considering the quantity of animal bones recovered from different periods, one also wonders why there is no separate chapter on animal bones.

The other evidence cited, like stone and decorated bricks, could have been used in any building, not necessarily only in a temple. Further, the carved architectural members have come from the debris and not from a stratified context. Finally, the 50 m long wall that was supposed to belong to a “massive structure” below the “disputed structure” is nothing but the foundation of the main western wall of a masjid. Why is it that only the western wall of a supposed temple has been found and not the other walls? Regarding the pillar bases, objections have been raised during the excavation regarding the very nature of the excavation procedures being followed by the ASI archaeologists.
It is also claimed that “pillar bases on north of the makeshift structure have survived in the very nature along with their contemporary floor.” The suggestion being made is that these pillar bases in the north are the original pillar bases of this supposed “massive structure” on which were affixed the black schist pillars that were found in the Babri Masjid. Yet, the size of these bases in the north range from 48.5 x 43 cm, 50 x 50 cm, 47 x 46.5 cm, 48 x 56 cm, and just do not match with the black schist pillars that have sizes ranging from 21 x 21 cm or 24 x 24 cm.

These few points are illustrative of the kinds of problems that are there in the final report of the ASI. It is very clear that the ASI report is biased and goes against the very norms of archaeological objectivity.

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