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India’s Ancient Past$
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R. S. Sharma

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195687859

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195687859.001.0001

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Nature of Sources and Historical Construction

Nature of Sources and Historical Construction

Chapter:
(p.14) 3 Nature of Sources and Historical Construction
Source:
India’s Ancient Past
Author(s):

R.S. Sharma

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195687859.003.0003

The methods of archaeology help to recover the material remains of the past, relating to ancient, medieval, and modern periods of history. Ancient Indian currency was issued in the form of metal coins. Coins portrayed kings and gods, and contained religious symbols and legends, all of which reveal the contemporary polity, economy, society, art, and religion of the time. Far more important than coins are inscriptions. They were carved on seals, stone pillars, rocks, copperplates, temple walls, wooden tablets, and bricks or images. Although the ancient Indians knew how to write as early as 2500 bc, most of the manuscripts are not older than the fourth century ad and are found in Central Asia. Indigenous literature can be supplemented by foreign accounts. Evidence from chemistry, geology, and biology has become significant to the study of ancient India. Coins, inscriptions, and archaeology are considered more important than mythologies found in the epics and Puranas.

Keywords:   archaeology, coins, inscriptions, material remains, manuscripts, indigenous literature, foreign accounts

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