This is a collection of previously published research papers, unpublished conference papers, and endowment lectures written between the 1970s and the 2000s. In the first section after the introduction are four essays that relate to the interface between archaeology and text: seeking the literal truth of the epics; investigating the emergence of complex society and the state in the Deccan and in Punjab; and the nature of the early cities of Bengal.

Empirical Richness and Rigour

Most narratives of the historiography of ancient India inspire a strong sense of déjà vu. There is the mandatory bashing of the imperialist historians, followed by a litany of complaints against the nationalist historians. This is followed by an account of post-Independence developments, in which the writing of ancient Indian history is presented as coming of age, with the imbalances and biases of the earlier eras replaced by a more sophisticated and sounder understanding of the past.