Iconic Sites and Monumental Subjects
Kumkum Roy
MARSHALLING THE PAST: ANCIENT INDIA AND ITS MODERN HISTORIES by Nayanjot Lahiri Permanent Black, 2013, 452 pp., 895
April 2013, volume 37, No 4

The anthology under discussion consists of thirteen essays organized in three parts—the first titled Ancient Heritage and Modern Histories, the second Artefacts and Landscapes, and the third, An Archaeologist (John Marshall) and A Historian (D.D. Kosambi), written over a period of 20 years, between 1990 and 2010.

Lahiri writes with ease, enthusiasm and a passion that is almost contagious. She communicates the excitement of discovering the history of archaeology, her intense engagement with dusty files of official correspondence and her equally intense interest in the material remains of the past very effectively. These are perhaps best exemplified in the last article of the first section, titled ‘Partitioning the Past’, where Lahiri draws out the condition of a beleaguered Archaeological Survey, the pain, trauma, and violence that accompanied the human tragedy and was compounded by acts of omission and commission, vividly and sensitively.

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