ISRO scientists to begin radar mapping of ancient university

ISRO scientists to begin radar mapping of ancient university

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Patna, India, 17 January 2007 – Scientists from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have been asked to help explore ruins in and around the ancient Nalanda University in the state of Bihar. P.K. Mishra, Superintending Archaeologist of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Patna circle, said the radar mapping would help to explore the ruins for further excavation.

“A team of scientists from ISRO will visit Nalanda in February for the radar mapping work. We could plan the excavation after the results of the radar mapping,” Mishra said. “The radar photography has proved fruitful across the world for exploration of archaeological structures followed by excavation in the ruins of any historical site,” he added. For a long time, archaeologists were in a dilemma whether to start the excavation due to lack of proper scientific details.

Hieun Tsang, the famous Chinese scholar who visited Nalanda in the 7th century, stated in his account that the university was spread over 16 kilometres. However, till now hardly 1.6 square kilometres of the ruins of more than 2,500-year-old university was excavated.

Last year a two-member team of senior space scientists from Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Agency began fieldwork for satellite imagery exploration in and around the ruins of the site. They reportedly collected data on site settlements and water bodies around the ruins. India’s Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni, during her visit to Nalanda in April 2006, had mooted a plan to use satellite imagery for exploration of the area.