Indian Antiquities

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    SIR EDWABD GAIT'S review of British research work in India in the fields of archæology, philology, and ethnology in his address to the first meeting of the Royal Society of Arts in the current session (Jour. Roy. Soc. Arts, Nov. 13) records a remarkable achievement, especially when it is taken into account that such research, often demanding intense application, in the majority of cases has been no more than the distraction of a busy official career. India can now boast of an ancient civilisation and a literature, of which the older elements may go back so far as 2000 B.C.; but when British rule began in the eighteenth century, Sanskrit literature and lore had lapsed into disrepute, the ancient monuments had been allowed to fall into decay, and the course of events in the Hindu period had been forgotten. From the time when the study of Indian antiquities was placed on an organised basis by Sir William Jones, who had gone to India as a judge of the Supreme Court in 1783, and the Asiatic Society of Bengal was founded, British officials have engaged in all branches of Indian studies with enthusiasm. Forgotten scripts, forgotten languages, and even forgotten empires have been rescued from oblivion, while the investigation of the customs, races, and religions of the people of India has been pursued in a scientific spirit without reference to racial or political prepossessions. Thanks largely to the efforts of Lord Curzon, ancient monuments have been restored and the care of antiquities made a matter of administrative charge. It is to be regretted that Sir Edward Gait has to record a falling off in the number of British civil servants who now devote themselves to such studies; but on the other hand there is a measure of compensation in the fact that the number of natives of India who are interested in the history and antiquities of their own country is on the increase.

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    Indian Antiquities. Nature 129, 18–19 (1932) doi:10.1038/129018c0

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