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Colonial knowledge, archaeological reconstructions: The discovery of the Hindu temple in 19th-20th century India

Shivdasani Seminar
Dr Himanshu Prabha Ray
Tuesday, 1 November 2005 - 4:15pm

The first lecture in the series traces the beginnings of the archaeology of religion in 19th-20th century India and highlights the trends that emerged in the study of the Hindu temple as a result of this intervention. Perhaps the most salient is the disjunction between religious praxis and theory and the study of architecture divorced from its ritual and philosophical moorings. A second is the change in the character of religious sites in the subcontinent from a culturally pluralistic personality to a monotheistic religious identity as a result of early archaeological legislation in the 19th century and more specifically from the early years of the 20th century onwards. This is best achieved by contrasting the ‘discovery’ of the site of Amaravati (1798-1867) with that of Nagarjunakonda (1920-1938) – both located along the river Krishna in the Guntur district of Andhra.

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