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Iconic sites and ‘monumental’ subjects in Indian history are the core of this fascinating collection of essays. Nayanjot Lahiri ranges from the Indus cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro to Buddhist Mahabodhi and Sanchi, from the political imprint of the 1857 revolt on bits of Delhi to the partitioning of India’s archaeological heritage in 1947.
Archaeologists find unexpected things during their digs—as does Lahiri. By unearthing new archival material and by looking at the ways in which the personal and the professional mix in their writings, she gives us new facets of two iconic scholars of ancient India, the archaeologist John Marshall and the historian D.D. Kosambi. Both are crucial figures: Marshall headed the group that discovered the Indus civilization; Kosambi changed the way in which ancient Indian history was written after Independence. Lahiri gives us pictures of them that no one else has.
Scholarly, perceptive, and entertaining, Marshalling the Past offers readings of ancient India and its modern histories that will confirm Nayanjot Lahiri’s reputation as one of the most readable historians of her generation.
Nayanjot Lahiri is a professor at the Department of History, University of Delhi—where she was once a graduate and now teaches archaeology. An undergraduate of St Stephen’s College, Delhi, she has taught at Hindu College (1982–93) and written several books, including Pre-Ahom Assam (1991), The Archaeology of Indian Trade Routes (1992), The Decline and Fall of the Indus Civilization (edited; 2000) and Finding Forgotten Cities (2005).