Monday, May 24, 2021

Books: Earliest Societies, Early Medieval India

 You didn't think I would stop at just three books, did you? More were delivered few days back.

1) Was the transition from a hunter gatherer lifestyle to agriculture a prerequisite for the formation of complex societies? James C.Scott explores this link between sedentism, domestication and state formation. The Sumerian Ur city state that formed around 3800 B.C is one example of this. New archaeological discoveries are hinting at complex societies of antiquity greater that the agriculture linked complexes that came up in the fertile crescent.  Sites like Gobekli Tepe in Turkey may make us reexamine our assumptions regarding the causes and timing of the formation of early states. Besides this book, I will recommend this essay by Samo Burja - Why Civilization is older than we thought


2) In the past year, I read four fine books on Indian history covering the time span from the 1000's to about the 1750's. India in the Persianate Age 1000-1765 and A Social History of the Deccan, 1300-1761: Eight Indian Lives, both by Richard M. Eaton. The Emergence of the Delhi Sultanate by Sunil Kumar who sadly passed away recently. And the fourth was The Mughal State 1526-1750. This is a collection of essays collated by Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam with a long introductory critical essay on Mughal historiography by the two editors. I thought it was time for me to explore the few centuries preceding the arrival of Central Asian Turkic invaders. The Making of Early Medieval India and The Early Medieval in South India look like good introductions to this time period. 

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