There are currently two parallel discourses on ancient India, one based on texts, the other on archaeology. Historians tend to use archaeological data selectively and sporadically, usually in order to support their text-based hypotheses. Archaeologists, for their part, do not often succeed in developing the long-term historical implications of the archaeological evidence. Dilip Chakrabarti’s Oxford Companion to Indian Archaeology is a major intervention towards breaking this impasse. Weaving together a vast range of archaeological data stretching from prehistory to the 13th century AD is a formidable task. Chakrabarti manages to do justice to it, maintaining a balance between specificity and generality, incisively pointing to the implications of the archaeological details for understanding larger historical trajectories. This book gives the most comprehensive and up-to-date synthesis of archaeological data pertaining to the prehistoric, protohistoric, early historical and early medieval phases of the subcontinental past.
Chakrabarti’s contribution towards the generation and analysis of this data is itself considerable. Over the years, he has written on numerous aspects of Indian archaeology and history and has produced a number of authoritative works including The History of Indian Archaeology