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Passage to India? Anuradhapura and the Early Use of the Brahmi Script

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 December 2008

R.A.E. Coningham
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeological Sciences University of BradfordBradford BD7 1DP
F.R. Allchin
Affiliation:
Ancient India and Iran Trust Brookstands House Brooklands Avenue Cambridge CB2 2BG
C.M. Batt
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeological Sciences University of BradfordBradford BD7 1DP
D. Lucy
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeological Sciences University of BradfordBradford BD7 1DP

Abstract

The island of Sri Lanka, situated off the tip of southern India, is often perceived as the recipient of material culture diffused from more northerly regions. This article counters this model by suggesting that Sri Lanka may have played a pivotal role in the development of Brahmi, South Asia's earliest readable script. Sherds inscribed with this script, recently found at Anuradhapura, with dates of the beginning of the fourth century BC, now represent its earliest dated examples anywhere in the subcontinent. By analyzing the sherds' archaeological and scriptural context it presents a tentative mechanism for Brahmi's development and spread through South Asia and concludes by discussing the dynamic relationships between scripts, langtiage, material culture and ethnic division within Sri Lanka.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research 1996

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