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Essays In History Of Archaeology (Themes, Institutions And Personalities)

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Item Code: NAW970
Author: K. Paddayya
Language: English
Edition: 2013
Pages: 376 (Throughout Color And B/W Illustrations)
Other Details 11.50 X 8.50 inch
Weight 1.85 kg
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About The Book

The twenty essays included in this book are based on a considerable amount of archival research undertaken by the author and cover a wide range of topics concerning history of archaeology.

Part I deals with certain themes and institutions-a review of the theoretical perspectives used in Indian archaeology since beginning, the newly recognized Madras School of Orientalism and the earliest use of photography in ethnological documentation. Also included in this Part are two essays which review the progress of archaeological research in Dakshina Maharashtra and Karnataka and highlight the scope for further work. The essay on the early history of Deccan College in Pune focusses attention on the intense debates that took place between Utilitarians and Orientalists in the early part of the nineteenth century about the nature of education to be introduced in India.

The essays in Part II give the author's assessments of the pioneering contributions made to Indian archaeology by, among others, Sir William Jones, Colin Mackenzie, Robert Bruce Foote, Hasmukh D. Sankalia and Raymond Allchin This Part also includes essays on C.J. Thomsen, Grahame Clark, Lewis Binford and others who contributed enormously to the growth of archaeology as an academic discipline.

About the Author

Dr. K. Paddayya, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology and former Director of Deccan College (Deemed University) in Pune, has a distinguished teaching career and is widely respected in India and outside for adopting innovative approaches in the investigation and interpretation of Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites of the Shorapur Doab in southern Deccan. He is also known for his writings dealing with history of archaeology and archaeological theory and method. His publications include, among others, New Archaeology and Aftermath: A View from Outside the Anglo-American World (1990) and Essays in History of Archaeology (2013). He is an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (London) and was honoured with the title ‘Padma Shri’ by Government of India.


As part of the celebrations marking the completion of 150 truly eventful years of its existence, the Archaeological Survey of India has published during the year 2011-2012 many new publications and has also revived its two major and widely acclaimed research journals Ancient India and Epigraphia Indica. In tune with the historical spirit of the celebratory event, it has also brought out three books about its own genesis and development. These are John Keay's To Cherish and Conserve: The Early Years of the Archaeological Survey of India; Custodians of the Past: 150 Years of the Archaeological Survey of India (edited by Gautam Sengupta and Abha Narain Lambah) and Rediscovering India 1961-2011. I understand that all these publications are already being received enthusiastically by readers across the country.

I am now glad to place before the discerning readers a fourth publication dealing with history of archaeology. This is Essays in History of Archaeology-Themes, Institutions and Personalities by Professor K. Paddayya. He is a well-known scholar with many significant contributions to Prehistory, Protohistory and Theoretical Archaeology. He has also an abiding interest in historiography of archaeology. In addition to teaching and field investigations spanning more than four decades, Professor Padddaya has published a number of important and widely-cited research papers on this topic in Indian and international journals and volumes. Upon our request he has brought these papers together in a book format in order to make them readily accessible to interested readers.

While the three above-cited books are focused on the history of Archaeological Survey of India itself, Professor Paddayya's book is much broader in scope. In fact, he is one archaeologist in India, who, besides writing on different aspects of history of Indian archaeology, has also published articles on non-Indian archaeologists ranging from C.J. Thomsen to Lewis Binford. He had close personal contacts with some of them. The book contains altogether twenty essays. These are grouped into two parts-Part I dealing with Themes and Institutions, and Part II with famous Personalities. I am confident that this book too will be widely welcomed.


The six papers included in this part relate to certain specific themes and institutions. The paper on 'Theoretical Perspectives in Indian Archaeology: An Historical Review' arose from an oral presentation which I had made at the symposium on 'A World Perspective on European Archaeological Theory', organized by the Archaeology Department of Southampton University from 14 to 16 December 1992. This symposium was part of the annual conference of Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG), which had in a short period of time created much interest in theoretical aspects of archaeology in Britain. My friend Clive Gamble arranged for a travel grant through the Prehistoric Society, London. In the oral presentation I hardly completed introducing my theme when the chairperson of the session rang the bell to announce the end of allotted time of 15 minutes. Even at this distance of time I feel quite ashamed of my total lack of skills in time management. Anyway the late Prof. Peter Ucko was kind enough to accept for publication the manuscript which I later prepared.

I wrote this paper against the background of intense debate that had been generated by the publication of Edward Said's book Orientalism in 1978. While Said's castigations of the European writings about the Orient may hold good to some extent in the case of Arab-speaking world, I realized, and still believe so, the need to avoid a bandwagon approach and instead adopt a more positive attitude while judging Europe's role in unravelling South Asia's past. For from being wild beasts (with apologies to Edmund Burke) let loose to pillage various creations of an intelligent people across ages, most of the European Orientalists who stepped on South Asia's soil were genuinely enchanted by the breadth and depth of its legacy from the past. As a child of village India and as a field archaeologist who had to spend weeks and months at a stretch in remote areas, I find it unbelievable that 150 to 200 years ago that some of them criss-crossed the Indian countryside for years and decades and left minute recordings of monuments and sites, totally unmindful of the harsh and totally alien set of climatic, terrain and living conditions. One may contrast this with the fact that some of the local chiefs were actually treating ancient sites as quarries for building materials.

My paper gives a sketch of the main stages in the development of Indian archaeology and of the changes that came up in theoretical perspectives from time to time. It concludes with observations emphasizing the need for theoretical pluralism, possibility of enriching theory in archaeology with indigenous epistemological perspectives and importance of public education about the past to thwart its misuse by vested interests. I elaborated on these themes in some of my later publications (Paddayya 2002, 2004, 2011).

All of us have for long admired the vision of Sir William Jones and the pioneering contributions made by the Asiatic Society in Kolkata. Our knowledge of early investigations in the southern part of the country rarely reached beyond the level of making casual references to the field findings of Francis Buchanan and Colin Mackenzie. So my happiness knew no bounds when I came across Thomas Trautmann's edited volume The Madras School of Orientalism (2009) and Jennifer Howes's book Illustrating India (2010). It was heartening to be told that a wide range of field and indoor studies and debates thereon had already been taking place in this part of the country too in the early decades of the nineteenth century and, no less important, to learn that these in fact constitute a distinctive school of Orientalism, with some of its findings differing widely from those of the Calcutta School. The second paper included in this part was originally published as a review essay on these two new books for highlighting the linguistic, cultural, religious and other findings of the Madras School.

The next two papers are presidential addresses delivered by me at two regional conferences of historians and archaeologists - one held at Kurundwad near Kolhapur in Maharashtra and the second in Bengaluru. It is interesting to recall that antiquarian studies began as early as 1877 in Dakshina Maharashtra (or the South Maratha country, as it was known to writers of the colonial era), when Mahadev Vasudev Barve (an administrative officer of Kolhapur princely state) noticed the remains of a brick stupa and an inscribed casket during garden clearance work and submitted a detailed note on the findings with some sketches to the British Resident. R.G. Bhandarkar used these materials and published a paper in 1880. In 1945, again with the support of Kolhapur state, the Deccan College in Pune excavated an early historical site near Kolhapur town. Thereafter, barring some isolated attempts, no systematic work has been undertaken in this area. Hence Dakshina Maharashtra is still one of the least known regions of the Deccan from archaeological point of view. This presidential address was intended to draw attention to its untapped potentialities in terms of prehistoric, protohistoric and historical sites and also to the fact that the South Maratha country-forming as it were a half-way house, geographically and culturally speaking - holds a crucial position for understanding cultural links between South India and Upper Deccan. In contrast to this area, antiquarian studies commenced 200 years ago in the neighbouring Karnataka state and many detailed field studies were undertaken before and after Independence. My own work was concentrated in the Shorapur Doab of North Karnataka. The address at the Bengaluru seminar gave me an opportunity to take a bird's eye-view of the work done in the whole state and then identify the problems and issues that still lie unattended to, including the grave threats posed to archaeological sites due to developmental projects.

The preparation of paper on the early history of Deccan College, in addition to being an expression of sentimental attachment to this great institution of higher learning and of gratitude to its inimitable ways of fashioning tenacious academic figures out of raw lumps of clay, gave me the thrill of looking at the intense debates that raged in the nineteenth century between the Utilitarians, on the one hand, who wanted to impose English education on the Indians and the Orientalists, on the other, who advocated the continuation of education in Arabic and Persian, and Sanskrit. Administrators like Elphinstone chose to tread a middle path and won their way. His defence of the establishment of Hindu Collge in Pune (the nucleus of Deccan College) and his arguments about the relevance of Indian learning have not lost their force a wee bit even now. In fact, they are more relevant in these times of modernization and globalization.

The paper on the early use of photography in Indian archaeological and ethnological writings was an unexpected but pleasant side-product of my archival research in 1989 on Meadows Taylor (unfortunately still being written about) in the British libraries. The collection and preservation of sets of photographs emanating from various sources in India and the interest shown by the office of the Secretary of State for India to publish them with ethnographic and historical notes prepared by knowledgeable persons serve as a reminder of the vast amount of material of various kinds that still lies unstudied in the archival repositories in our own country. For instance, I have recently come to know that the National Archives of India have 16 manuscript volumes of R.H. Phillimore from which arose his four celebrated volumes on Historical Records of the Survey of India, published by the Survey of India between 1945 and 1954.

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