S.R. RAO, b. 1922


S.R. Rao or Shikaripura Ranganatha Rao (shikAripura ranganAtha rAv) (ಶಿಕಾರಿಪುರ ರಂಗನಾಥ ರಾವ್) is one of the most revered archaeologists in the country. His research regarding the Indus Valley Script and his claims to have discovered the ancient city of Dwaraka have brought him lasting fame. However, his contribution is much more diverse and it includes some pioneering work in many archaeological sites of Karnataka. He is the founding father of Marine Archaeology in India .

Rao was born in a small village called Anandapura in Sagara talluk of Shivamogga district. He obtained a B.A. (Hons) degree in History from the University of Mysore . He secured a M.A. degree from Nagapur University . After serving in various capacities such as a teacher, journalist and a post master, he joined the Department of Archaeological Studies in the princely state of Baroda as an assistant director. He was trained in various disciplines such as numismatics, architecture, epigraphy, excavation techniques and preservation of monuments by experts in the respective fields. Pre Historic archaeology and ancient paleography were other disciplines in which he obtained expertise. He was later repatriated to the Archaeological Survey of India, and served there in various capacities till his retirement in 1980. After that, his services were requisitioned by the Indian National Science Academy and later by the Department of Science and Technology and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to be the Emeritus Scientist at the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, He is the pioneer of Marine Archaeological Studies in India . He was awarded a D.Litt. degree by the University of Mysore for his dissertation titled “Lothal and the Indus Civilization’

Dr Rao has conducted excavations in many parts of India . Most prominent ones among them are Shishupalgarh, Amreli, Rangapur, Lothal, Vidyanagara, Bet Dwaraka, Paiyyampalli, Shivavaram, Aihole, Pattadakallu, Kaveripattana, Rayagarh and Hampi.

The excavations conducted by Dr Rao in Lothal in 1954 are very important. These excavations revealed many facets of the Indus valley civilization. Lothal was one of the most ancient ports in the world and it allowed people to have trans-oceanic contacts with other countries like Iraq , Iran and Behrain. He has linked some of his findings of his excavations at Bet Dwaraka and Vidyanagara to the submerged city of Dwaraka .

He has conducted quality research in deciphering the Indus Valley Script for a number of decades. He does not contribute to the view that the script is related to the Dravidian. He studied those seals in the backdrop of the Brahmi script and the Semetic script and arrived at the conclusion that they were written in Pre Vedic Sanskrit. This argument has found many supporters and an equal number of denials.

The works carried out by Dr Rao in Karnataka are many. He found the habitats of Satavahanas in Aihole and Pattadakallu. His discovery of a Buddhist inscription and the ruins of a building in Hampi took back the antiquity of that place by more than 1500 years. He has contributed his mite to the preservation of Aihole, Pattadakallu, Badami, lakkundi, Balligave, Belur, Bijapur, and Bidar etc. Archaeological museums also were established in many of the above mentioned places during his tenure.

He has received many awards and honors. He was the first recipient of the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship from Karnataka. He was awarded the Centenary Gold Medal of the Archaeological Department of Karnataka and the first World Ship-Trust Award for individual excellence in Marine Archaeology. He chaired the sixth conference of the Epigraphic Society of India. ‘Rangavalli’ is the name of the felicitation volume presented to him. (Edited by A.V.Narasimha Murthy and B.K.Gururaja Rao) “New Trends in Indian Art and Archaeology’ is another felicitation volume in English. A list of his publications is appended here.:

1.      Dawn and Devolution of the Indus Civilization, 1991 

2.      The Lost City of Dvaraka, National Institute of Oceanography, 1999

3.      Marine Archaeology in India, Delhi, Publications Division, 2001

4.      Reminiscences of an Archaeologist, 2008, New Delhi, Aryan Books International.

5.      www.gojaba.com/.../Marine-Archaeology-in-India-S-R-Rao

6.      An Integrated Approach to marine archaeology, 1997, National Institute of Oceanography(India )

7.      ‘New frontiers of Archaeology’, 1995.



Further Readings and Links:

1.      New Trends in Indian Art and Archaeology: S.R. Rao's 70th Birthday Felicitation Volumes, edited by B.U. Nayak and N.C. Ghosh. 1992,


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