From Harappa to Hastinapura

A Study of the Earliest South Asian City and Civilization


This book redefines the concepts of the city and civilization in the Harappan and Early Historic South Asia, using archaeological data and ancient Indian texts. In contrast to previous studies, it approaches the texts not as sources of factual information, but as sources of abstract ideas that can be used in the analysis of archaeological data. The main themes discussed throughout the book are: the use of ancient texts in the analysis of archaeological data, the historicity of Sanskrit and Pa-li literature, the idea of the city in the Harappan and Gangetic South Asia, and ultimately the idea of the ancient Indian civilization. This book is important to all interested in the rise of civilization in South Asia, the archaeology of early complex societies, and ancient history. It is illustrated with plans and photos of archaeological sites.

Biographical Note

Piotr A. Eltsov, Ph.D. (2004) in Archaeology, Harvard University, is Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at the Freie University, Berlin. He has excavated in the Near East and south Asia, and is currently working on a book dealing with the idea of the state in the Harappan and Ganges civilizations.

Table of contents

1 From Historical Agents to Structure: A New Method for the Study of Ancient South Asia 2 The Chimera of the City: From Saint Augustine to Doxiades and to Ancient Indian Literature 3 The Idea of the City in the Ganges Civilization 4 The Idea of the City in the Harappan/ Indus Civilization 5 The Idea of Civilization: From Voltaire to Braudel and to the Sanskrit Puranas 6 The Idea of the Ancient Indian Civilization: A Framework of Enquiry


All those interested in early complex societies, ancient south Asian civilizations, south Asian archaeology, ancient south Asian literatures, Sanskrit, the idea of the ancient city, and the idea of civilization, as well as historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, indologists, and philologists.