The Archaeology of the Indian Subcontinent (ARC3117)

StaffDr Gillian Juleff - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.50
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

 A major theme of the module will be external contacts and Indian Ocean trade through the first millennium AD. The module will conclude with the disintegration of central polities and the patchwork array of southern Indian kingdoms. Changes in the cultural history of the subcontinent will be seen through recent archaeological evidence and through the art and architecture of the region's standing monuments.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Know the features of the cultural history and material development of the Indian subcontinent during the first millennia BC/AD and the pertinent debates on the interpretation of the archaeological record of the region
  • 2. Understand the character and complexity of South Asian societies from the proto-historic to the medieval period.
  • 3. Assess the types of datasets commonly encountered in Indian archaeology, comprising many categories of material culture spread over varied political, cultural and environmental zones

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Be aware of the changing nature of social, economic and political organisation and how they are expressed in the archaeological record
  • 5. Research a topic guided by a reading list
  • 6. Understand and critically evaluate archaeological information from a wide range of sources
  • 7. Organise information synthetically to address key thematic issues

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Learn from peers, both giving and receiving constructive criticism
  • 9. Self-reflect on progress within a co-operative group environment
  • 10. Develop competence in word processing and report presentation

Syllabus plan

Defining the Indian subcontinent: natural and cultural environments
Indus: the rise and decline of Harappan culture 
Proto-and early history I: the Ganges and the beginnings of urbanisation
Proto- and early history II: material culture, settlements and cities; Peninsular India to Sri Lanka 
Ashoka and the Mauryan Empire: political unification and Buddhism
External contact overseas: east and west trade, technology transfer and cultural exchange 
Dravidian South India: the monumental dynasties of the Chalukyas, Pallavas, Pandyas and Cholas
Archaeology, archaeologists and excavations: key events

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching16Lectures (8 x 2 hr)
Scheduled learning and teaching2Seminars (2 x 1 hr)
Scheduled learning and teaching1Tutorial
Guided independent study131To include reading, preparation for seminars and assessments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar contributionsongoing8Verbal comments
Group presentation on chosen topic5 minutes each7-10Verbal comments from tutor and peers

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay502000 words3-7,10Verbal and Written feedback
Exam501.5 hours1-4Verbal and Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay 2000 words3-7,10ref/def period
ExamExam 1.5 hours1-4ref/def period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Allchin, F.R. and B, Allchin, 1968 The birth of Indian civilisation, Penguin, London
Allchin, F.R., 1995 The archaeology of Early Historic South Asia, Cambridge University Press
Allchin, F.R. and D.K. Chakrabarti (eds) 1997 A source-book of Indian Archaeology, vol. II Settlement, technology and trade, Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi
Basham, A.L., 1954 The wonder that was India, Sidgwick and Jackson, London
Chaudhuri, K.N., 1985 Trade and civilisation in the Indian Ocean: an economic history from the rise Islam to 1750 Cambridge University Press
Keay, J., 2010 India, a history from the earliest civilisation to the boom of the twenty-first century, Harper Press, London
Kulke, H. and Rothermund, D. 2004 A history of India Routledge
Ray, Himanshu P., 1999 The winds of change: Buddhism and the maritime links of Early South Asia Oxford University Press, USA
Ray, Himanshu P., 2003 The archaeology of seafaring in Ancient South Asia, Cambridge World Archaeology
Singh, Upinder. 2009 A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century, Pearson Education, New Delhi
Stein, B., 1998 A history of India, Blackwell publishing, London
Tapar, R., 1990 A history of India vol. I 1526, Penguin, London

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Journal of South Asian Studies
Journal of Indian Ocean Archaeology
Man and Environment
Current Science
Michael Wood's India (DVD)

Available as distance learning?


Last revision date


Key words search

Archaeology, India, Sub Continent