Friedrich Oertel: The Man Who ‘Found’ India’s State Emblem

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You see it everywhere – on currency notes, government seals and government web portals. But did you know that India’s national emblem is a representation of one of the most important archaeological finds in India? It is based on the Lion Capital of Ashoka at Sarnath, a sculpture discovered by a man who has slipped between the pages of history.
Despite his unfortunate anonymity today, Friedrich Oscar Oertel was an interesting man in his time. He was a talented civil engineer and an architect in British-India and had no formal experience in archaeology. Born in 1862 in Hannover, Germany Oertel came to India at a young age. He renounced his German citizenship and was a naturalised Briton.

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