The existence of historical sources provides valuable inputs regarding the past.Historiographers tend to differentiate these sources in the context of written and oralhistories. Oral history is dynamic because it is spread by word-of-mouth; on the otherhand, written history is fixed and emphasizes the recording of facts.Historiography tries to place various sources of information into specificcontexts. This means that the historiographer does not merely accept the content of asource at face value but identifies the source, looking for various motifs in its formation.While reconstructing a historical event, it may be possible that the historiographermay include or exclude facts, because of various reasons. In such a scenario, one ofthe questions the historiographer must investigate is how some facts remain includedor excluded from a history. Comparing different accounts of a single event can highlightinclusions or exclusions from a history. In contrasting these sources, one can understandnot only the event but also the precise perspective of the author of the source.1.3 SOURCES OF ANCIENT INDIAN HISTORYThe purpose of history is to throw light on the past. This is done through discoveryand study of historical sources. It is rather easy to find sources for writing the historyof the recent past because there is plenty of hand written and printed material on andabout modern State and Society. There is also enough material in respect of medievaltimes. The real difficulty arises while writing ancient history.These sources are divided into two main groups. They are archaeological andliterary. The Archaeological Source can again be divided into three groups, namely,archaeological remains and monuments, inscriptions and coins. The literary sourceCheck Your Progress1. Differentiatebetween maritimehistory andAtlantic history.2. What ishistoriography?
Self-InstructionalMaterial7Ancient Indian Historyand CultureNOTEScan also be divided into three groups, namely, religious literature, secular literature andaccounts of foreigners.1.3.1 Archaeological SourcesArchaeology has contributed a lot to the history of ancient India and its importancecannot be under emphasized. Indian archaeology is a science of recent growth but ithas made wonderful progress during that brief period. The pioneer work was done bythe Europeans but the same is being carried out now by the Indians. The study of theIndian antiquities was initiated by scholars like Sir William Jones who founded theAsiatic society of Bengal in 1774. A large number of researches were hampered bythe ignorance of the script but that difficulty was solved by Jones Prinsep in 1838 byhis discovery of the Brahmi script. After that discovery, the task of deciphering theinscriptions became an easy one and a lot of work was done by historians likeFergusson, Cunningham, Rajendra Lai Mitra, and Bhau Daji. The greatest contributionwas made by General Cunningham who was appointed in 1862 as the ArchaeologicalSurveyor to the Government. He devoted about half a century to the study of ancient