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Ancient Varanasi: An Archaeological Perspective

Vidula Jayaswal (Author)
Synopsis Varanasi is not only one of the oldest living cities of the world, but is also a model reflecting a comprehensive picture of our rich cultural heritage. The undisrupted occupation of Kashi region since ancient times till this date, played a vital role in the make up of modern Varanasi. The unique qualities of this settlements raise a number of questions, like, how old is Varanasi? What are the factors which helped this city to continue till today, particularly when other old cities on the banks of the Ganga died out? Also, why did Lord Buddha select peripheral region of Varanasi, Sarnath, for delivering his first sermon, particularly when he attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya? It is on record that he was well conversant with Rajgriha, Pataliputra and other places of Bihar. And since when Saivism became an integral part of the Varanasi culture? All these questions are deeply rooted in the history of this holy city, which are attempted in this book on account of the archaeological findings. Ancient remains of Varanasi which were unearthed at Kashi-Rajghat about four decades ago, could demonstrate that this holy city was inhabited around ninth century BC, Sarnath, the place of the first sermon of Gautam Buddha, retains archaeological remains from the time of the Maurya king Asoka. But, excavations at Aktha reveal that this settlement had greater antiquity than has been obtained at Kashi-Rajghat. It also reveal the factors which helped make up of Sarnath as the first place for preaching the teachings of Lord Buddha. The first colonization of Kashi region, on account of the excavated findings could be pushed back to about four/five hundred years. This bridged the gap between the antiquity ascertained by ancient texts and earlier archaeological records of Varanasi. Besides the Risipattana concept attached with Sarnath in the Buddhist literature is also corroborated by Aktha. This book adds new chapter to the early history of Varanasi city and Sarnath.
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About the author

Vidula Jayaswal

Grand daughter of (Late) Dr. K.P. Jayaswal, Dr. Vidula Jayaswal is presently teaching and guiding research in Ancient Indian History in general and Archaeology in particular at the Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. Dr. Jayaswal was selected by the Government of India under the National Scholarship Scheme to study abroad and received specialized training in Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A. She also served the Archaeological Survey of India. Author of eight books, five in English – Palaeohistory of India, Chopper-Chopping Component of Palaeolithic India, Kushana Clay Art, An Ethno Archaeological View of Indian Terracottas and Paisra: The Stone Settlement of Bhiar (last two in co-authorship) and three text books in Hindi-Bharatiya Itihas ke Adi Charan Ki Roop Rekha (Pura Prastar Yuga), Bharatiya Itihas Ka Madhya Prastar Yuga , and Bharatiya Itihas Ka Nav Prastar Yuga. She has also edited a proceeding of workshop which is published as Ancient Ceramics. Dr. Jayaswal has to her credit more than fifty research papers, which have been published in the proceedings of International Symposia and various publications of repute. Her noteworthy field investigations are excavations of prehistoric sites at Lahariandih in Mirzapur and Paisra in Munger districts and excavation of historical settlement at Bhitari, and, surveys of pottery and terracotta producing centres of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Her recent discovery of the Ancient Quarries of Asokan times and subsequent periods, near Chunar is a significant contribution to both Archaeology and History of Arts.

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Bibliographic information

Title Ancient Varanasi: An Archaeological Perspective
Format Hardcover
Date published: 23.09.2009
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 9788173053559
length xiv+234p., Illustrations; Figures; Maps; Bibliography; Index; 28cm.