A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India : From the Stone Age to the 12th Century

Upinder Singh, Pearson Education, 2008, xxvi, 678 p, 326 photographs, 51 figs, 45 maps, ISBN : 8131711200, $145.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

Contents: Preface. Acknowledgements. Introduction: ideas of the early Indian past. 1. Understanding literary and archaeological sources: i. Reading ancient texts from a historical point of view. ii. Archaeology and the early Indian past. iii. Epigraphy: the study of inscriptions. iv. Numismatics: the study of coins. 2. Hunter-gatherers of the Paleolithic and Mesolithic ages: i. The geological ages and hominid evolution. ii. Hominid remains in the Indians subcontinent. iii. Palaeo-environments. iv. Classifying the Indian stone age. v. The Paleolithic age. vi. The Mesolithic age. Conclusions. 3. The transition to food production: Neolithic, Neolithic-Chalcolithic, and Chalcolithic villages, c. 7000-2000 BCE: i. The Neolithic age and the beginnings of food production. ii. Why domestication? iii. The identification of domestication and food production in the archaeological record. iv. The transition to food production in the Indian subcontinent. v. Neolithic, Neolithic-Chalcolithic, and Chalcolithic communities, c. 3000-2000 BCE. vi. The life of early farmers. vii. Changes in cultic and belief systems. Conclusions. 4. The Harappan civilization, c. 2600-1900 BCE: i. Civilization and urbanization: definitions and implications. ii. Recent discoveries and changing perspectives. iii. Harappan, Indus, or Sindhu-Sarasvati civilization? iv. Origin: the significance of the early Harappan phase. v. The relationship between the early and mature Harappan phases. vi. The general features of mature Harappan settlements. vii. Profiles of some Harappan cities, towns, and villages. viii. The diversity of the Harappan subsistence base. ix. Harappan crafts and techniques. x. Networks of trade. xi. The nature and uses of writing. xii. Religious and funerary practices. xiii. The Harappan people. xiv. The ruling elite. xv. The decline of urban life. xvi. The significance of the late Harappan phase. Conclusions. 5. Cultural transitions: images from texts and Archaeology, c. 2000-600 BCE: i. Perspectives from texts. ii. Archaeological profiles of different regions of the subcontinent, c. 2000-500 BCE. iii. The problem of correlating literary and archaeological evidence. Conclusions. 6. Cities, kings, and renunciants: North India, c. 600-300 BCE: i. The sources: literary and archaeological. ii. The 16 great states. iii. The Ganas or Sanghas. iv. Political conflicts and the growth of the Magadhan empire. v. The Persian and Macedonian invasions. vi. Land and agrarian expansion. vii. From village to town: the example of Atranjikhera. viii. The emergence of city life. ix. Archaeological and literary profiles of early historical cities. x. Urban occupations, crafts, guilds, and money. xi. Trade and traders. xii. Class, kinship, varna, and caste, xiii. Gender, family and household. xiv. The renunciatory tradition. xv. The Ajivikas. xvi. Early Buddhism. xvii. Early Jainism. Conclusions. 7. Power and piety: the Maurya Empire, c. 324-187 BCE: i. The major sources for the Maurya period. ii. Literary and archaeological profiles of cities. iii. Some aspects of rural and urban life. iv. The nature and structure of the Maurya Empire. v. Ashoka and Buddhism. vi. Ashoka's Dhamma. vii. Sculpture and architecture. viii. The decline of the Maurya Empire. Conclusions. 8. Interaction and innovation, c. 200 BCE-300 CE: i. The political history of North India. ii. The Shaka Kshatrapas of Western India. iii. The Satavahana Empire in the Deccan. iv. Kings and chieftains in the far south: the Cheras, Cholas, and Pandyas. v. Villages and cities. vi. Crafts and guilds. vii. Trade and traders. viii. Aspects of social change in North India and the Deccan: Varna, Caste, Gender. ix. Society in early historical South India. x. Philosophical developments: Astika and Nastika Schools. xi. Looking at the history of religions beyond the framework of 'ISMS'. xii. Religious architecture and sculpture. Conclusions. 9. Aesthetics and Empire, c. 300--600 CE: i. Political history. ii. The administrative structure of the Gupta and Vakataka Kingdoms. iii. Revenue resources of states. iv. Land ownership. v. Types of land, land measures, and land tenure. vi. Royal land grants. vii. Patterns of urban history. viii. Craft production, guilds, and trade. ix. Aspects of social structure: gender, forms of labour, slavery, and untouchability. x. Patterns of religious developments. xi. A classical age of art? xii. Sanskrit literature. xiii. Astronomy and mathematics. xiv. Medical knowledge. Conclusions. 10. Emerging regional configurations, c. 600-1200 CE: i. Sources, literary and archaeological. ii. Political narrative and political structure. iii. Royal land grants. iv. Rural society: regional specificities. v. Urban processes in early medieval India. vi. Historical processes in early medieval South India. vii. The religious sphere. viii. The architecture and sculpture of early medieval India. Conclusions. Glossary. Index.

"Developed as the most comprehensive book yet for students and general readers, A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India offers an exhaustive overview of the subject. Dividing this vast historical expanse into broad chronological units, it constructs profiles of the various geographical regions of the sub-continent, weaving together and analysing an unparalleled range of literary and archaeological sources.

Prehistory and protohistory are dealt with in considerable detail. The narrative of the historical period breaks away from conventional text-based history writing, providing a window into the world of the primary sources of history. Substantial archaeological data is incorporated, along with literary, epigraphic, and numismatic evidence. Revealing the ways in which the past is constructed, this book explains fundamental concepts, and illuminates contemporary debates, discoveries, and research. Situating prevailing historical debates in their contexts, Ancient and Early Medieval India presents balanced assessments, encouraging readers to independently evaluate theories, evidence, and arguments.

Lavishly illustrated with over four hundred photographs, maps and sketches, A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India helps the reader visualize and understand the extraordinarily rich and varied remains of the Indian subcontinent's ancient past. It offers readers a scholarly and nuanced--yet lucid--account of this past, which transforms the process of discovering it into an exciting experience." (jacket)

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