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From Bactria to Taprobane: Selected Works of Osmund Bopearachchi (In 2 Volumes)

 
Osmund Bopearachchi (Author)
Synopsis

The first volume comprises Osmund Bopearachchi’s most important articles on the numismatics of Central Asia and India, particularly of pre-Bactrian, Graeco-Bactrian, Indo-Greek, Indo-Parthian and Kushan Coins. There are 36 articles on numismatics and 3 on the destruction of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage during the period of Civil War.

It is well known that from the time of Theodore Bayer, the reconstruction of the history of Greek settlers of Alexander the Great in Bactria and India and their nomadic successors, Scythians, Parthians and Kushans, has depended mainly on coins. It is only in the light of these coins that the rare ancient texts and the limited archaeological evidence can be used for writing their history.

Since the publication of Bopearachchi’s first book, Monnaies Greco-bactriennes et indo-grecques, Catalogue raisonne (1991), nearly half a million coins have surfaced in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of accidental finds and illegal excavations. His research is mainly based on these new discoveries. Through his work he has brought to light new kings, coin types, monograms, overstrikes and coin hoards. Bopearachchi has also shown that the history of Greeks and their successors in Central Asia and India can no longer be written based solely on numismatics. He has taken into consideration other forms of human activities such as architecture, sculpture, epigraphy, ceramics and artefacts and shows it amply in his writings based on his own investigations and the contributions of eminent archaeologists, historians, numismatists, epigraphists and art historians of Central Asia and India.

The second volume of Osmund Bopearachchi has articles and monographs on Central Asian and Indian art, South Indian and Sri Lankan art and finally maritime trade in the Indian Ocean. While documenting thousands of coins in the Pakistani markets from 1992 onwards. Bopearachchi realized that one has to go beyond the traditional approach of simply cataloguing coins, and as a result he has made an attempt to link numismatics with sculptural and pictorial iconography.

His studies on Utpalavarna, the courtesan who later became a bhiksuni (Buddhist nun) and on the earliest iconography of Hindu gods like Siva, Brahma, Visnu and Varaha have revolutionised our knowledge of these domains.

His writings giving the result of the archaeological excavations and explorations carried out by the department of archaeology and the French Archaeological Mission in Sri Lanka along the estuaries and rivers provide substantial evidence to indicate that in ancient times large ships could cast anchor in the sea close to river mouths and commodities were taken to inland markets using the rivers and waterways.

His work also shows how the movements caused by these human activities have amalgamated local traditions with foreign identities and created new forms of art and belief. His research on sculptures imported to the island from Amaravati-Nagarjunakonda deals with the inspiration of these schools of art over the early forms of Buddhist sculpture in Sri Lanka. The different architectural aspects of the royal palace complex of Sigiriya, build by King Kassapa (477-95 CE) clearly demonstrate that various external ideas and concepts were used to convert this huge lofty rock into a more elaborate harmonious whole, in another words a paradise or an Alakmanda.

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About the author
In the spotlight

Osmund Bopearachchi

Osmund Bopearachchi is a numismatist, historian and archaeologist. He has authored twelve books, edited six books and published 162 research articles in reputed international journals. He has read 91 papers at international colloquia; presented 275 conferences in 80 cities, and has carried out 120 archaeological missions in 24 different countries.  Going beyond the traditional approach of simply cataloguing coins, he has made an attempt to link numismatics with sculptural and pictorial iconography. These attempts made him more and more interested in diverse art forms in ancient India. The exhibition catalogues that he has edited and co-authored, the international colloquia that he has organised and published and the numerous research articles that he has written are the outcome of his deep-seated interest in Central Asian and South Asian archaeology, art and architecture.  Prof. Bopearachchi holds a B.A. from the University of Kelaniya (Sri Lanka), and B.A. honors, (M.A.), M.Phil., Ph.D. all with first class passes from the Paris I-Sorbonne University, and a Higher Doctorate (Habilitation) from the Paris IV-Sorbonne University.  Prof. Bopearachchi currently serves as the director of the Sri Lanka-French Archaeological Mission, and also has launched a joint project with the Department of Near-Eastern Studies of the University of California at Berkeley focusing on Sri Lanka’s role in ancient maritime trade in the Indian Ocean.  He recently published a book on Gandhāran art entitled: “When West Met East: Gandhāran Art Revisted (Manohar, Delhi, 2020) based on a selection of hitherto unknown masterpieces from Gandhāra and Greater Gandhāra dispersed in museums and private collections in Japan, Europe, Canada and United States of America. At present he is working on a new catalogue of Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek Coins.

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Bibliographic information

Title From Bactria to Taprobane: Selected Works of Osmund Bopearachchi (In 2 Volumes)
Format Hardcover
Date published: 30.04.2015
Edition 1st. ed.
Language: English
isbn 9789350980682
length xxvi+1167p., Colour; B/W Plate; Figures; 25cm.