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Bal Krishen Thapar (18 October 1921 – 6 September 1995) was an Indian archaeologist who served as the Director-general of the Archaeological Survey of India from 1978 to 1981. He was the founder of INTACH.

Early life

Thapar was born to a cloth merchant in Ludhiana on 18 October 1921. On completing his M.A. in History from the University of Punjab, Lahore, Thapar joined the Archaeological Survey of India and trained under Mortimer Wheeler at the newly established Institute of Archaeology in Taxila. Thapar obtained a doctorate in West Asian archaeology from the Heidelberg University.

In the Archaeological Survey of India

Thapar participated in the archaeological excavations in Kalibangan, Purana Qila and Maski. He was also involved in ASI's excavations in Farah Valley and Begram in Afghanistan.[1] Other excavations he conducted and led include archaeological projects at Hastinapur, Sisupalgarh, Rupnagar, Kausambi, Porkalam, Somnath, Prakash, Kuchai, and Juna Pani.

Thapar edited Archaeological Survey of India's official journals Indian Archaeology from 1973 to 1979 and Purattatva from 1974 to 1978. In 1978, Thapar succeeded M. N. Deshpande as Director-general of the ASI and served till retirement in 1981.

Professional Memberships

Thapar was a member of many academic bodies, both in India and abroad, including:

Fellowships and awards

In 1992, Thapar was awarded the Padma Shri for Literature and Education[3] by the Government of India. Thapar was awarded the Alexander Von Humboldt Scholarship in 1959. In 1993, he was awarded the Asiatic Society of Bengal medal, and the Jawaharlal Nehru Centenary Medal. Thapar was also a Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland Fellow; Churchill College Fellow (1971), and a Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fellow[4] (1981).


Thapar died at New Delhi on 6 September 1995.

Selected publications

Indian megaliths in Asian context - with Arun Kumar Sharma (1994)

Conservation of the Indian heritage - with Bridget Allchin and Frank Raymond Allchin (1989)

Recent archaeological discoveries in India (1985)

Approaches to the Archaeological Heritage Chapter 7, India - Henry Cleere (1984)

History of Humanity: Scientific and Cultural Development. Book Chapter: The Indus Valley: 3000-1500 BC. Dani, A. H. and Mohan, J.-P. (eds.), Vol. II UNESCO and Rutledge: 246-265 - with Mohammed Rafique Mughal (1996)


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  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 January 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund".
Preceded byM. N. Deshpande Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India 1978 - 1981 Succeeded byDebala Mitra