Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Crisis Archaeology Volume 56 Number 3, May/June 2003
by Kristin M. Romey

Archaeologists are conducting a high-stakes investigation into one of modern India's most deadly religious disputes. A court-ordered excavation has begun at the site of the sixteenth-century Babri mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya. Hindu extremists, who believe the mosque was built on the site of an earlier Hindu temple marking the birthplace of the god Ram, destroyed it in 1992. Resulting riots left more than two thousand people dead. The excavation is expected to determine whether the mosque was in fact built atop an earlier temple, and follows petitions by hardline Hindu organizations to build a new temple at the site.

The excavation, supervised by the Archaeological Survey of India, is taking considerable measures to assuage both Muslim and Hindu religious sensitivities. A yellow curtain that shields the excavation from public view has been replaced with a pink one; yellow is considered a sacred color by Hindus.

© 2003 by the Archaeological Institute of America