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Lecture by Julie Hanlon (Department of Anthropology, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago)
25 AUGUST 11
by Julie Hanlon (PhD student, Department of Anthropology, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago)
Syncretizing the Sources: Trade and Exchange in Early Historic South India
The Early Historic period in South India (500 BCE - 500 CE) was a time of great political, religious, and social change, as well as growing local and long-distance commerce.  The overarching historical narrative for this period is chiefly derived from the corpus of classical Tamil literature called Caṅkam Literature.  Research in the fields of archaeology, epigraphy, and numismatics has also contributed to our understanding of this time period.  However, the data gathered from these disciplines are often treated as subordinate, and are used primarily to corroborate or supplement the existing historical narrative.  Julie Hanlon argues that for periods such as the Early Historic, where multiple lines of evidence are available, one should attempt to syncretize these sources, that is, to combine these data in order to provide a more holistic view of the past.  To adequately address each of the sources, one must acknowledge their specific socio-historical contexts as well as their limitations.  This paper will present a preliminary inquiry into trade and exchange in Early Historic South India, specifically Kerala and Tamil Nadu, utilizing data from classical Tamil literature, epigraphy, and numismatics.  She will correlate these data with archaeological evidence, and conclude by presenting the methodology for her dissertation research, which examines both the material and literary records in an attempt to elucidate the political landscape of Early Historic South India.

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