This chapter begins with discussions of the importance of archaeological evidence in studying ancient India, and the development of archaeological research in the subcontinent — establishment of the Asiatic Society, early 1830s, Alexander Cunningham and his successors, and the role of Indians as well as prominent Britishers like John Marshall and Mortimer Wheeler. It then sets out the purpose of the book, which is to offer an archaeological history of the Indian subcontinent from prehistory to the early historical stage. The chapter introduces the land mass and some of the major geographical parameters and concepts affecting the study of its archaeology and ancient history. It then focuses on the growth of agricultural settlements beyond the distribution area of the Indus civilization, and argues that it was the interaction between this civilization, and the advanced hunter-gatherers and the marginal agricultural producers in the rest of the subcontinent, which led to the formation of an agricultural base in all the major agricultural areas and laid down the basis of the subsequent early historic urban growth in the Ganga plains and elsewhere. The chapter also discusses India in relation to Asia and Africa, the distinct geographical entity and identity of the Indian subcontinent, the recent approach of the Anthropological Survey of India and the classificatory system based on concept of race.
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