24 November, 2020

Civilisation, You Dig?

A trace-sheet of people and institutions that gave India a 3,000-year-older history

Civilisation, You Dig?
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
In 1826, an adventurer named Charles Masson visited Harappa, a small village in the Punjab, and felt there was something significant about it. Over the next 100 years or so, Harappa and Mohenjo Daro (in Sind) were explored and excavated by archaeologists. There were many tantalising clues—seals inscribed with mysterious writing, unusual pottery, stone blades, bricks and structures. Yet it took almost a century after Masson’s visit for archaeologists to realise that these two sites represented a civilisation almost 5,000 years old. Nayanjot Lahiri tells the fascinating, unknown story of the long, winding road that led to this discovery.

The compelling flow of this book’s effortless narrative conceals the meticulous archival research it’s based on, making it accessible to academics and general readers alike. The book is, among other things, about people. There is Curzon, for instance, the viceroy with an imperial vision and a passion for conserving monuments. Rescuing the Archaeological Survey of India from a deep institutional crisis, he brought in John Marshall, a man...

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