Archaeologist Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay was an Indian archaeologist, historian, and pioneer in the ancient Bengal language. He was born in 1885 and died in 1930 (1). He graduated with honors from Presidency College in Calcutta which is located in West Bengal in India. One of Bandyopadhyay’s most known discoveries was finding the site called Mohenjodaro. This was very important because this site was from the Harappan culture which dates back to approximately 2800 B. C(2).
Along with finding this site, archaeologist Rakhaldas also wrote various books and articles that interpreted his findings. One article was called “An Indian City Five Thousand Years Ago” and was published in the Calcutta Magazine Gazette in 1928 (2). Along with his article ‘An Indian City Five Thousand Years Ago’, he also had a book called ‘Prehistoric, Ancient and Hindu Indian’ posthumously published in 1934. He was very knowledgable since he studied ancient Bengla writing and also studied ancient Indian art and coins from past civilizations (2).
Without archaeologist Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay, little would be known about the Harappa civilization that existed along the Indus River. The discovery of the site of Mohenjodaro was a huge discovery that shed some light into Harappan civilization. Mohenjodaro means “mound of the dead”. It was discovered in 1922 by Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay who was a member of the Archaeological Survey of India (4). He originally went to the Sindh province of Pakistan to search for pillars of victory that were made by the Greeks but instead he saw a large mound.
There was a large mound of dirt over the site and at first he believed that there was a buddhist stupa underneath. A stupa is a term used by buddhists to refer to a monument that contains religious buddhist artifacts (5). This would make sense to Bandyopadhyay because there were several stupa’s found in India and there were also buddhist burial mounds. While unearthing the mound of dirt, Rakhaldas began to find artifacts that reminded him of artifacts found in the Harappa site.
He had uncovered a civilization. This civilization is thought to have been built in 2600 B. C and abandoned in 1900 B. C. This was a very old civilization and though archaeologist Rakhaldas was adept at ancient scripture, the ancient scripture that was used in the Harappa civilization still has not been successfully translated to this day. This site was larger than the Harappa site found near by and had over 30,000 occupants which would have made it a very large city in its time. This civilization was spread across the Indus River which is located in modern day Pakistan (3) and was one of the biggest cities of it’s time.
The site that Bandyopadhyay discovered is known to be one of the greatest achievements from this culture. By studying the Mohenjodaro site, archaeologists were able to reconstruct how they thought the civilization would have been. Archaeologists believe that Harappa and Mohenjodaro were under one form of government that controlled both sites. Mohenjodaro was intriguing to archaeologists because there was little evidence to support that there was an inequality among the social classes.
Usually archaeologists would stumble upon elaborate burials with jewelry and pottery inside to signify the deceased’s social class but there was little evidence of this found in Mohenjodaro. Since there were no elaborate burial sites, archaeologists wondered about the art work in the Harappa civilization. Small seals made out of stone where found in Mohenjodaro (3). Archaeologists believe that these seals were personal items owned by the inhabitants of this civilization. The stone seals often had drawings of animals, both real and imaginary.
They also sometimes contained writing which were written in the Indus script (3). In 1925, Rakhaldas was transferred to the Eastern Circle of the Survey. While he was there, he excavated Paharpur (1). Paharpur is a small village in Bangladesh. Within Paharpur was a Buddhist monument which consisted of a large temple and a monastery. This site is known as the Paharpur Vihara. Archaeologists believe that this site was built by an Emperor in 770 to 810 A. D (6). This archaeological site was from the seventh century and shows archaeologist the rise of Buddhism in this area at that time.
After his excavations at Paharpur, Rakhaldas published a report called “An Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey in India” in 1926 (1). In conclusion, Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay was known as being a pioneer in Indian ancient art, writing, and coins. The accomplishment he may be best known for is being the archaeologist that found the site of Mohenjodaro. He has written multiple subjects on India’s history and artifacts and has made a large positive contribution to understanding past civilizations in both India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.