Education About Asia: Online Archives

Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300

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BY ROMILA THAPAR
BERKELEY AND LOS ANGELES: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS, 2002
556 PAGES PLUS PREFACE
ILLUSTRATIONS, FIGURES, MAPS, CHRONOLOGY, GLOSSARY, BIBLIOGRAPHIES, AND INDEX
ISBN 0-520-23899-CLOTH

REVIEWED BY AINSLIE T. EMBREE

The importance of Romila Thapar’s achievement in Early India: From the Origins to 1300 AD, in relation to the work of her predecessors, lies in her access to new archaeological and literary sources, which she herself did not have when she wrote a shorter version forty years ago, as well as in her understanding of the nature of the enterprise of writing history. Spelled out in an introduction, this understanding is the essential background for following Thapar’s approach. History, she insists, is about change—in ideas, in the importance of regions, in social structures, in religious rituals, in agriculture, in languages, in art and architecture. Dynastic changes have a place in such a history, but she relates them to social changes, making her study at once more difficult, more challenging, and more interesting. The India of her concern is the geographical region coterminous with what we now call South Asia.