We use a magnetometer for the geophysical survey of Tilaurakot which allows it to ‘see’ bricks under the ground. Burnt brick walls under the surface are more magnetic, so we can excavate only the necessary areas.
In the past, there was a belief that ‘all archaeology is destruction’ because we had to physically excavate the land, and in doing so we were actually destroying the site. The magnetometer is a better tool to quickly locate historical evidence without having to excavate anything.
Kapilvastu-Tilaurakot is the most well preserved archaeological site in South Asia, and is 2,700 years old. The eastern part lies unused and untouched by agriculture due to the area being naturally elevated, and quite densely forested in the past.
There are still jackals, jungle cats, and wildlife here, making this a mini nature reserve. We need to preserve Tilaurakot’s archaeological and historical value, but also its environment. Kapilvastu is just not an ancient city, it is a sacred region as well.
The Eastern Gate of the site is where Siddhartha Gautam left his family at age 29 to seek enlightenment two-and-half millennia ago. It is one of five to six gates around the city, which was three towns and three small settlements within the site.
We know that the city was abandoned, so the buildings are now very close to the surface. So are the ancient pathways that wind through the city. The increasing number of pilgrims had begun to wear away the archaeology on the surface, so we built a wooden platform over the ancient brick path. The planks serve not only to give visitors an idea of the grid plan of the city, but also to protect the site from wear.