The Kerala State Archaeology Department was formed in 1962 integrating the Travancore Archaeology Department and the Archaeological Research Centre of erstwhile Kochi. The main functions of the Department include publishing of volumes on stone-inscriptions discovered from various places, copying of writings on copper plates, conducting of excavations and explorations and measures to protect historical monuments dating back to 200 BC onwards which lie scattered in different parts of the State.
The Sanskrit inscriptions on the bell metal installed by the Venad King Sarvanganath Aditya Varma at Tirukurunkudi temple in Tamil Nadu, together with records maintained at the Suchindram Temple and an article written by Sree Visakham Tirunal in Indian antiquary led to the beginning of studies in this direction in Travancore. Thanks to the efforts of P. Sundaram Pillai of Maharajas College, Thiruvananthapuram, a full-fledged Archaeology Department was established in Travancore. He was appointed Honorary Archeologist of Travancore Archaeology Department in 1896. T.A Gopinatha Rao became the Superintendent of the reconstituted Archaeology Department in 1902. Gopinatha Rao was succeeded by K.V. Subrahmonia Iyer and A.S. Ramanatha Iyer as superintendents. The Archaeology Protection Law came into effect in 1937.
One of the notable achievements of the Department has been the protection and preservation of the Padmanabhapuram Palace at Thakalay in Kanayakumari district. It was the Archaeology Department that looked into the research of the Muziris. In 1964, East Fort and adjoining fort walls at East Fort were declared protected heritage. Other activities of the Department include chemical protection preservation, script studies, folk art studies and numismatic study.
There are 12 museums under the Archaeology Department. They are Pazhassi Tomb, Kunjali Marakkar Memorial Museum, Pazhassi Raja Museum, Archaeology Museum at Thrissur, Mural Paintings Museum, Chendamangalam Synagogue, Hill Palace Museum, Krishanpuram Palace, Kottarakkara Thampuran Memorial Classical Arts Museum, Velu Thampi Dalawa Museum, Koyikkal Palace and Padmanabhapuram Palace.
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