The study of specialized craft production has a long tradition in archaeological research. Through analyses of material remains and the contexts of their production and use, archaeologists can examine the organization of craft production and the economic and political status of craft producers. This study, which was originally published in 2003, combines archaeological and historical evidence from the author's twenty years of fieldwork at the imperial capital of Vijayanagara to explore the role and significance of craft production in the city's political economy of the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. By examining a diverse range of crafts from poetry to pottery, Sinopoli evaluates models of craft production and expands upon theoretical and historical understandings of empires in general and Vijayanagara in particular. It is the most broad-ranging study of craft production in South Asia, or in any other early state empire.
• The most broad-ranging study of craft production in South Asia, or in any other early empire or state •Based on evidence gathered from over 20 years of fieldwork at the Vijayanagara capital, one of the wealthiest cities in the world in its time • Calls into question dominant theoretical models for the organization of craft production in the state societies
1. Introduction; 2. Specialized craft production: archaeological approaches; 3. The South Asian state; 4. Vijayanagara: the historical setting; 5. Vijayanagara: sources of evidence; 6. Craft products and craft producers; 7. Artisans and institutions; artisans and each other; 8. Crafting empire: conclusion.
Review of the hardback: 'One of the most significant publications in the archaeology of South Asia to appear in the last decade … [Sinopoli] demonstrates that careful dialogue with indigenous understandings that are embodied in texts, as well as with the historians who privilege such sources, can contribute significantly to our collective knowledge of the products and producers of craft in India and in complex societies more generally.' South Asian Studies