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Towards a Nationalist Narrative of Indias Ancient Past: Including Recent Research on the Indus Civilization

Dilip K. Chakrabarti (Author)

In 1966 the famous Indian parliamentarian Ram Manohar Lohia regretted in Parliament that the minds of our children were ingrained with the belief that “India had nothing of its own; everything was either imitated or influenced by outside factors”. He called the Indian historiography ‘diseased’. His opinion was echoed by M.C. Chagla, the education minister, who advocated the idea of re-writing Indian history.


Taking Dr. Lohia’s opinion as the starting point, the present volume goes on to argue that post-Independence Indian archaeologists, despite making many new discoveries, have been most unashamedly neocolonial without the least awareness of the interrelationship between archaeological data and nationalism. The volume deals with multiple aspects of this interrelationship and undertakes a critical review of the recent research on the Indus civilization, showing that the very idea of the integrity and homogeneity of this civilization, which is the fountainhead of India’s mainstream civilization, is being currently undermined by both Indian and foreign archaeologists who consider it only a veneer on top of the regional elements.


Finally, the volume argues that the geographical and chronological implications of some recent discoveries conclusively underline that India’s protohistoric archaeological column and the literary column represented by the Vedic literature are inseparably linked, thus forming the first block of the seamless narrative of India’s ancient past.

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About the author

Dilip K. Chakrabarti

Dilip K. Chakrabarti is currently Professor of South Asian Archaeology at Cambridge University. He taught at the universities of Calcutta (1965-77). He taught at the universities of Calcutta (1965-77), Delhi (1977-90), Visvabharati (1980-1) and Jahangirnagar (1988-90), before moving to Cambridge in 1990. He participated in a number of Indian excavations and did some fieldwork in Iran before 1980, but the major focus of his fieldwork since 1980 has been a series of surveys: Kangra Valley (1980), Chotanagpur plateau (1981-7), Bangladesh (1988-90), the Ganga-Yamuna plain from the mouth of the bhagirathi to the hills of Uttaranchal (1991-2001 and 2002-5), the routes linking the Ganga plain with the Deccan (1999-2002) and the ancient routs of the Deccan and the south (2004-6). He is perhaps the only archaeologist to have surveyed the Chotanagpur plateau as a whole. His historical geographic survey of the Ganga plain is the first survey of its kind after the nineteenth century surveys by Alexander Cunningham and his associates. He has also opened up the study of the ancient routes as a branch of enquiry in Indian archaeology. He has published widely on each of these areas and on a host of key issues of south Asian archaeology. India: An Archaeological History (2001), The Archaeology and Ancient Indian Cities (1995), Ancient Bangladesh (1992), and The Early Use of Iron in India (1992) are some of his works published by OUP. His forthcoming publication is Archaeological Geography of the Ganga Plain: The Upper Ganga (Oudh, Rohilkhand and the Doab).

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Bibliographic information

Title Towards a Nationalist Narrative of Indias Ancient Past: Including Recent Research on the Indus Civilization
Format Hardcover
Date published: 02.03.2022
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 9788173056666
length xvi+234p., 23cm