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The Marshall Albums- Photography and Archeology

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Item Code: HAG379
Author: Sudeshna Guha
Language: English
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9781890206451
Pages: 288 (With Color Illustrations)
Other Details 11.00 X 9.50 inch
Weight 1.99 kg
Book Description
About the Book

Drawing mainly on the photographic albums in the personal collection of Sir John Marshall, one of the most reputed British archaeologist of India and the longest serving Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, this volume explores some of the civilisational histories of 'ancient India' that were founded through archaeological fieldwork and its photography. While maintaining focus on Marshall's contributions to South Asian archaeology, it encourages a critical review of archacology's emergence as an authoritative science in the writing of India's history, and the agency of photographs in establishing parameters of archaeological field research. By engaging with the physicality of scopic and evidential regimes the contributors also showcase the diverse manifestations, and inevitable uses, of archaeological practices within British India.

About the Author

Sudeshna Guha is Affiliate Lecturer in South Asian History at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies in Cambridge (U.K.). She holds a Ph.D in archaeology from Deccan College, Pune, and has curated the photographic collections of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Cambridge) for over eight years. She researches on notions of historical evidence through histories of archaeology and photography.


My none-too-meager collection of amateur snapshots, taken at a variety of sites, has always been regarded with amused indulgence by my family in their eyes, my photographic ventures fall far short of expected technical and aesthetic standards. I cannot claim to be a technically sophisticated field archaeologist either.

I was therefore both surprised and delighted to receive an invitation to write a Foreword to this sumptuous volume of historical images accompanied by detailed textual analyses. I was very pleased to oblige; in addition, it was too tempting an opportunity to vindicate my interest in photography to sceptical viewers at home.

As a teacher and researcher in the field of ancient Indian history. I have always relied upon photographic material in order to develop my work. India offers an amazingly unique chronologically diverse spectrum of relics of the past, and the scope of archaeological photography has therefore always been extremely rich. The sheer volume of what is available today is simply staggering. Only a fraction of the material excavated and documented by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) prior to Independence was used as visuals in publications of the time; and though the photo archives of the ASI remain a veritable, but sadly neglected, trove of pre- and post-Independence archaeological photographs, one tends to doubt now whether everything that was collected has been retained. I personally do not know whether pre-Partition archaeological photographs are part of institutionalised departments of archaeology in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The bulk of the photographs in this volume are sourced from the Marshall Albums in The Alkazi Collection of Photography. Visuals have also been taken from the 60 volumes of Marshall Albums now divided into two parts under the custodianship of the universities of Cambridge and Durham Additionally, there are photographs taken from other albums, museum collections and during the tenure of some of Marshall's predecessors at the ASI. Initially appointed for a period of five years, Marshall had a long tenure at the ASI. first as its Director General (1902-1928) and then as Officer on Special Duty (1928-1934). During his management, the corpus of collected material and its photographic documentation grew enormously.

From a historiographic point of view, since there was a general scarcity of authentic written sources, objects fashioned by the "chisels of the country's ancient sculptors were immeasurably more to be trusted than the pens of her authors" as has been remarked. But what were the various and particular implications of photography within the discipline of colonial archaeology? Since renderings of the photographed object inevitably altered over time with changes in technology and visual modalities in general, were there specific concerns relating to the manner of imaging of selected archaeological items? Of course, the particular interests of individuals heading the ASI, or of those associated with it, may have varied considerably.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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