Early India and Pakistan: To Ashoka

Early India and Pakistan: To Ashoka

Early India and Pakistan: To Ashoka

Early India and Pakistan: To Ashoka

Excerpt

This book is a tentative sketch of a large and growing subject. Much of its material is, in the present stage of research, fragmentary and disjointed; in fact, the archaeology of the subcontinent is passing through that phase of increasing complexity which inevitably precedes a more comprehensive synthesis. The examples here presented are chosen mainly as representative of the cultural trends in the arterial valleys and, on the great plains and plateaux, where the major developments took place. Apart from incidental references, no attempt is made to describe the static communities which still, in the highlands and backwoods, occupy an appreciable part of India and often preserve their tribal usages and techniques surprisingly intact in a dosing world. There is much about these remote peoples that the archaeologist would like to know but does not. His turn will come; meanwhile the anthropologist holds the field.

I have ended my survey with Ashoka for the good reason that it is thereby possible to anchor Indian prehistory to the first firmly documented epoch of Indian history. The common division of the study of human cultures into 'prehistoric' and 'historic' categories is an unhappy one; often enough, the interrelationships and vagaries which are intelligible enough on the historic scene are useful reminders in the interpretation of undocumented material and help to bring it to much-needed life. Ashoka's era seems to me, in that fashion, to illumine. much that went before it.

No logical system has here been followed in the transcription of Indian names. Since 1947 a number of them have been corrected from the sort of Hobson-Jobson into which time and the British had corrupted them. In some instances this . . .

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