BANGALORE: A field day for him would normally involve visiting prehistoric sites, digging through to find geological fossils and researching through literature to connect historical dots and proclaim novel findings.
No, this is not the fabled Indiana Jones, but a Bangalore boy, Akash Srinivas. The 23-year-old archaeology student has won the prestigious Erasmus Mundus scholarship to study a two-year International Master in Quaternary and Prehistory (IMQP) course.
Akash topped the Category A (for non-European Union students) of the scholarship with a score of 95, leaving behind two other students from Chile and Thailand who were also shortlisted. Pocketing a €34,000 grant, Akash will head to the University of Ferrara in Italy for his studies.
“Archaeology needs a lot of hard work and effort and one can very easily be disheartened. It isn’t as romantic as shown in Indiana Jones movies,” says Akash, who holds a master’s degree in archaeology from Deccan College, Pune.
The IMQP gives Akash a chance to pursue his dream in archaeology. “I want to find out what it is that makes us human and what differentiates us from the other living beings. I thought the answer to this question lied in the past. Before postgraduation, I only knew of the Indus Valley civilization, but I realized that there is something much older than this, which is the prehistory,” Akash said.
Since 2009, the European Commission offers a limited number of Erasmus Mundus Category A scholarships for non-EU students. Only less than 8 per cent of applicants in previous years have obtained the scholarship. “I followed the advice of my guide who told me that the IMQP is a good course and that I should apply for the scholarship as it was in Europe that prehistory originated,” he said.
Cognitive archaeology is his favourite branch as it deals with understanding the mental processes of ancient populations through material evidences. Akash aspires to get a doctoral degree in this field by working on South Karnataka’s prehistory. His PG project was on Kibbanahalli, a prehistoric site discovered in 1924 in Tumkur, where he analyzed stone tools and also studied the effects of modern land use on archaeology.
Archaeology studies in India is very difficult, primarily because of the attitude towards heritage, he says. “The primary difference between archaeology in India and the West is that our heritage is still living, the same temples are being worshipped and people can trace descent to the same sites. Hence, we take it for granted and do not believe that it needs to be preserved.”
Based on the choice of his subjects, Akash can opt to study in the National Museum of Natural History (France), Rovira Virgili University (Spain), Polytechnic Institute of Tomar and University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro (Portugal) and University of the Philippines Diliman.