1st Edition

The Archaeology of Knowledge Traditions of the Indian Ocean World

Edited By Himanshu Prabha Ray Copyright 2021
    288 Pages 40 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    288 Pages 40 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    288 Pages 40 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    This book examines knowledge traditions that held together the fluid and overlapping maritime worlds of the Indian Ocean in the premodern period, as evident in the material and archaeological record. It breaks new ground by shifting the focus from studying cross-pollination of ideas from textual sources to identifying this exchange of ideas in archaeological and historical documentation.  

    The themes covered in the book include conceptualization of the seas and maritime landscapes in Sanskrit, Arabic and Chinese narratives; materiality of knowledge production as indicated in the archaeological record of communities where writing on stone first appears; and anchoring the coasts, not only through an understanding of littoral shrines and ritual landscapes, but also by an analysis of religious imagery on coins, more so at the time of the introduction of new religions such as Islam in the Indian Ocean around the eighth century. 

    This volume will be of great interest to researchers and scholars of archaeology, anthropology, museum and heritage studies, Indian Ocean studies, maritime studies, South and Southeast Asian studies, religious studies and cultural studies. 

    1. Introduction 

    Himanshu Prabha Ray 

    1a: Conceptualising the Seas: Introduction 

    2. Seven Seas and an Ocean of Wisdom: An Indian Episteme for the Indian Ocean 

    Srinivas G. Reddy 

    3. Gendered Spatialisation of the Ocean in the Kathāsaritsāgara

    Tara Sheemar Malhan 

    4. Conceptualising the Far West: Early Chinese Notions of Da Qin and the Indian Ocean Trade 

    Matthew A. Cobb 

    5. Al-Muqaddasī’s tenth-century maritime landscapes of the Arabian Red Sea 

    Dionisius A. Agius 

    5a: The Materiality of Knowledge Production: Introduction 

    6. Making Megaliths and Constituting Collectives: Politics, Places, and Historicity in Prehistoric South India 

    Andrew M. Bauer and Peter G. Johansen 

    7. Bullion, Baubles and Bowls: Reconstructing networks of exchange in the Indian Ocean 

    Uthara Suvrathan 

    8. Material cultures of writing in the Indian Ocean world: A palm-leaf letter at the Mamluk court 

    Elizabeth Lambourn 

    8a: Anchoring the Coasts: Introduction 

    9. Practices of Faith: The Coastal Shrines of South Arabia 

    Salila Kulshreshtha 

    10. Entangled Traditions: The Royal Barges of Angkor 

    Veronica Walker Vadillo 

    11. Musical Nomenclature for the Sanskrit term kangsa in Southeast Asia 

    Arsenio Nicolas 

    12. Connected Words: Coins and Maritime Worlds of the Indian Ocean 

    Shailendra Bhandare


    Himanshu Prabha Ray is Research Fellow, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, Oxford. From 2014 to 2019 she held the prestigious Anneliese Maier research award of Humboldt Foundation. She was the first Chairperson of the National Monuments Authority, Ministry of Culture in New Delhi, India from 2012 to 2015 and former Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. Her research interests include Maritime History and Archaeology of the Indian Ocean and the Archaeology of Religion in Asia. Her recent books include Decolonising Heritage in South Asia: The Global, the National and the Transnational (ed. 2019), Archaeology and Buddhism in South Asia (2018), Buddhism and Gandhara: An Archaeology of Museum Collections (ed. 2018), The Archaeology of Sacred Spaces: The Temple in Western India, 2nd Century BCE to 8th Century CE (with Susan Verma Mishra, 2017), The Return of the Buddha: Ancient Symbols for a New Nation (2014) and The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia (2003).