Localizing the Different Faces of Archaeological Landscapes in South India

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


Public Archaeology (2019)




Archaeology, Chola Temple, heritage, local actors, preservation, Tamilnadu


<p>Siruthavoor is a village situated 40 km south of Chennai in south India. The people of this village share their landscape with archaeological remains of south India’s past, including Iron Age–Early Historic burials and medieval temples. As an archaeologist, having witnessed and been both an indirect and direct participant in the changing reactions, actions, and perceptions of the community towards these monuments, I use this paper to explore the implications we can draw from the interaction between archaeological landscapes and various actors, spanning a period of twelve years. In India, as in many other countries, archaeological landscapes, monuments, and objects face the possibility of alteration, conservation, preservation, or destruction. The factors involved in this, I argue, are specific to localized conscious and unconscious decision-making by people living around such archaeological sites. Delving deeper into these issues will help us understand these often seemingly inexplicable choices that imperil the continued presence of archaeological monuments in the contemporary landscape. The behind-the-scenes events that occur in the ‘field’ of archaeology often remain untold, and yet they hold a lot of information. Through this narrative, this paper explores some of the subjectivities that we need to acknowledge as academics.</p>