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New book series

The OCHS is proud to announce a new academic book series “Archaeology and Religion”, published in partnership with Routledge India. The new series examines inscriptions, ritual objects, coins, and sculptural and narrative representations on shrines to help investigate the complex relationship between manifestations of religion and the archaeological record.

Through the study of the archaeological record, we can appreciate the diverse uses of sacred sites and how religious communities and practices have changed and evolved over time. This series is broad in scope and is open to multi-disciplinary proposals exploring archaeology and religion.

This series introduces the reader to the major religions of South Asia, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam through the form and function of sacred sites and their interaction with society. It is in the capacity to acknowledge multiple forms of one deity and the cyclic nature of time that the Indic culture is unique and it is here that early textual traditions provide insights for possible de-codification of symbols and icons.

In contrast, the archaeological record focuses on a wide diversity ranging from open-air altars, tree-shrines, pillars, memorial stones to religious architecture, monastic complexes and temple towns. The crucial element in the built landscape was the religious shrine and fresh insights into the role of religion in the past are possible through an understanding of the social context of these shrines.

Another important aspect of the series relates to the continued use and reuse of sacred space. An apt example of this is the site of Nagarjunakonda in the lower Krishna valley in Andhra that emphasises the sharing of a common architectural vocabulary by several religious traditions.

Finally it is the visual record of conservation and transformation of religious architecture over the last two hundred years during colonial rule that becomes significant in comprehending the present relationship between the community and sacred space.

Proposed book titles currently include: Negotiating Sacred Space: Locating Early Medieval South Asia in a Trans-cultural World; Archaeology and Religion in Early Historic Punjab;Archaeology of multi-religious centres such as Varanasi or Mathura; Archaeology of Buddhism in South Asia.

Professor Himanshu Prabhu Ray is the editor of the new Archaeology and Religion series. She is currently the Chair of the National Monuments Authority, New Delhi. and formerly a professor at the Centre for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. She was a Shivdasani Visiting Fellow at the OCHS in 2005 and edited the proceedings of the Archaeology and Text conference which was held in Oxford in 2007, published by Oxford University Press under the title Archaeology and Text: The Temple in South Asia

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