Robert Bruce Foote

Robert Bruce Foote bigraphy, stories - Geologists

Robert Bruce Foote : biography

22 September 1834 – 29 December 1912

Robert Bruce Foote (22 September 1834 – 29 December 1912), Shanti Pappu, Man and Environment, XXXIII(1): 30-50 (2008) was a British geologist and archaeologist who conducted geological surveys of prehistoric locations in India for the Geological Survey of India.

In 1863, the year after his archaeological survey began, he discovered the first conclusive Paleolithic stone tool (a hand axe) in India. He found the tool in southern India (Pallavaram, near Madras). After the discovery he, along with William King, went on to discover more such tools and settlements in Southern and Western India. In 1884 he discovered the long Belum Caves, the second largest cave in the Indian subcontinent. Foote spent 33 years (starting at age 24) working for the geological survey. He is often considered the "Father of Indian Prehistory".

As a geologist, one of his significant contribution to Indian Geology is his memoir (Vol. XII) published by Geological Survey of India in 1876, titled "Geological Features of the South Mahratta Country and Adjacent Districts" (i.e. Border districts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh States, India). Even today, his memoir with its graphical language is a treat to ‘read and follow’ for the amateur geologists who want to study the rock successions of the northern Dharwar craton of South India.

He died and was cremated at Calcutta, his ashes were deposited at Holy Trinity Church, Yercaud, Tamil Nadu, India. There is a memorial to him there.

Foote’s father–in–law was the Rev Peter Percival, missionary, linguist and a pioneering educator in Sri Lanka and South India. His grandson was Major General Henry Robert Bowreman Foote, who won the Victoria Cross during World War 2.