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Ancient Indian Epigraphy

By Globus Press

Education History

Price 600.00

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The earliest traces of epigraphy in South Asia are found in the undeciphered inscriptions of the Indus Valley Civilization (Indus script), which date back to the early 3rd millennium BC. According to most scholars, the earliest deciphered epigraphic inscriptions are the Ashoka inscriptions of the 3rd century BCE, written in a form of Prakrit, with Dravidian language Jain inscriptions appearing soon afterwards in Sri Lanka and South India. Some scholars have made claims for earlier appearances of small written fragments on South Indian potsherds, but these are as of yet not generally accepted. Writing in Sanskrit appears only later, in the early centuries AD. Indian epigraphy becomes more widespread over the 1st millennium, engraved on the faces of cliffs, on pillars, on tablets of stone, drawn in caves and on rocks, some gouged into the bedrock. Later they were also inscribed on palm leaves, coins, copper plates, and on temple walls. Many of the inscriptions are couched in extravagant language, but when the information gained from inscriptions can be corroborated with information from other sources such as still existing monuments or ruins, inscriptions provide insight into India’s dynastic history that otherwise lacks contemporary historical records. Since 1886 there have been systematic attempts to collect and catalogue these inscriptions, along with the translation and publication of documents.

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