100th Episode of Down Ancient Trails

Feedback on the 100th episode on our Down Ancient Trails forum and Thoughts on the Future of Online Archaeology 

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We are delighted to complete 100 episodes on our Down Ancient Trails forum. We celebrate this by the program "Let's Connect" bringing together thoughts from across the world on online archaeology and related sciences. Through views on Education, Interactivity, Connectivity, and Future of Online Archaeology, we bring together participants and speakers to discuss their views. 

Visit our YouTube channel for videos of our speakers on this topic: Professor Sheila Mishra,  Professor Vijay Sathe, Professor Nena Galanidou, Dr. Oliver Harris, Dr. Ariel Malinksy-Buller, Dr. Annemieke Milks

Professor Ajay Pratap (email dated May 16th, 2021): Professor, Department of History, Faculty of Social Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi - 221 005, Uttar Pradesh, India

Dear Dr. Kumar, Akhilesh, Dr. Prachi B. Joshi, Dr. Sutonuka Bhattacharya, Prof. Paromita Das, and Professor Shanti Pappu,

Here are a few thoughts in response to your kind invitation:-1. The future of archaeology going online in the pandemic and the post-pandemic world is only a part proposition because the fieldwork elements remain just the same as before. However, at the stage of synthesis of fieldwork material and presentation of analysis, the online medium/mode is obviously far superior to conventional classroom lecture mode, for ease and uniform sharing of material and post-fieldwork syntheses.2. Before the pandemic, we were perpetually showing our best material to outsiders, and deluging our own students with words, owing to a severe lack of classroom audio-visual facilities, endemic even to leading Indian universities. This online medium, in my very first lecture experience with you, allows better information visual/verbal/auditory to be shared evenly.3. More material may be presented through this technique and made available for permanent ubiquitous serendipitous reference, beyond the proverbial PowerPoint in the conventional model.My thoughts on your Down Ancient Trails Lecture Series are as follows:-

1. Although a university teacher of ancient Indian history, for the past fifteen years, of undergraduate, graduate, and research scholar levels, I did not realize the great efficacy of pedagogy at all levels, through the online medium as I now do through your agency, having attended your lectures consistently since the middle of last year, and indeed delivered one.2. Although much of my course taught at Banaras Hindu University was, in fact, available for students as lectures and supportive web material in the online domain, fielded by UGC and other educational platforms and consortioums in India and overseas, they much preferred lectures delivered inside the classroom by me, for which I had freshly consulted various books and journals. These they evaluated as genuine and relevant value for their time. Journals in the subject and the information they contain were always too tough to disseminate at the undergraduate level given their higher information and analytical quotient and one had to skirt the issue entirely for day-to-day lectures in the interests of classroom time as giving references for books as opposed to periodicals was far easier in the classroom than multi-author periodical references. So in the real-time classroom mode, we have been busier with ethically evaluating each other as to who had done their 'duty' properly, rather than consistently teaching and learning effectively.3. I first came upon the sustained use of the online medium only through attending your four outstanding events held since last year. Up to October the Archaeology from Home, and from then the Down the Ancient Trails, Bones and Ancient Men, and the Herd and Harvest lecture series.4. Being on a sabbatical, I have benefitted greatly with the exercise of synthesizing as much information on the rock art of Vindhyas on which very little visual data is in circulation anywhere, less so considered analyses, and for much, the same reason that India is a very vast country and everyone is busy with their own stuff. 5. Further to my own lecture at the end of last November, in the Down Ancient Trails series, I have managed to communicate no less than two full research articles to various felicitation volumes, and three to other journals and compilations, due to the exercise undertaken to prepare for this lecture. The full monograph to arise from this sabbatical is in progress.6. The online experience with the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education for nearly a year now has opened up exciting possibilities of sharing sans frontier.Thank you all for your interest, invitation, dedication, and far-sighted vision in the promotion of online archaeology in India.Do try to convert all your lectures to hard-version publications in the future for the permanent use of students through various libraries.

Wish you the best of luck.

Thanking you.

Yours sincerely,



Professor P. Ajithprasad, 28 may 2021,  Baroda, My Message at the 100 episodes event.

Down Ancient Trails was a bold initiate that started in a desperate time at the onset of the pandemic a year back. It has turned out to be a very effective platform for informing and sharing archaeological research across the world. It is amazing that the programme is now completing hundred episodes. I have thoroughly enjoyed all my engagements with the programme. I am honoured to share my appreciation to the team Down Ancient Trails and Sharma Centre for Heritage Education that made it possible.

As far as the archaeology going online, I think we have just realized the huge potential of the new found platform for data sharing and its ability to engage with various stakeholders in a more informal and nuanced ways. In that sense what new possibilities it may bring in the post-covid times are fascinating to think of and need to be watched closely.

P. Ajithprasad

MSU Baroda

Note from Professor Ravi Korisettar 

Yes sitting through the sessions hosted by the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education under Down Ancient Trails has been a learning experience and made me feel there is so much to learn and that it goes endlessly. Although pandemic entailed social distancing the series helped us experience the life of archaeologists in a global village. We saw all remote parts of the world and their remote past, which otherwise not accessible, including publications, despite the internet resources. Some parts of the world that  were considered marginal to us were brought to the forefront and allowed us access to the archaeologists across the world. We got learn application of modern methods of research and their productivity; I got to learn so much about the prehistoric past of some regions though contiguous were far away for want access to publications from Tibet, Mongolia, Siberia, Southern Kalahari, etc. I got to attentively listen to  very eminent scholars of whom  we knew more but had no occasion to hear them though remotely, but was made possible without being personally travel to high ranking research institutions to they belong. Overall it was a festival of knowledge. Online access to scholars and their work is more effective than selective access to digital resources on the Internet. This process should continue in the future as well. Archaeologists of my age group are certainly benefitted. It is very true ‘humans are good listeners than writer’.

Ravi Korisettar