ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Revisiting the Archaeological Historiography of South Asia

Artefacts of History: Archaeology, Historiography and Indian Pasts by Sudeshna Guha, New Delhi: Sage, 2015; pp xiii+274, Rs 995.

There is a genre of writing on archaeology where excavations take place in the archives rather than in the ground. It is this genre that also appears to be more popular in the public imagination. Archaeology in India, for a larger audience, is associated with this kind of writing rather than the works that detail the recovery of data through exploration and/or excavation. This is not entirely surprising, as most excavation reports in India are dull, unimaginative, and full of abstruse data only accessible to the initiated. One of the major drawbacks of the style of writing excavation reports is that there is no attempt to make the issues that are dealt with accessible to a larger audience. There is also little desire to people the past, in the sense that houses and artefacts are written about but remain devoid of the households and communities that lived in them and used them. Sudeshna Guha’s book is the latest in the former line of work.

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