By Alessandro Ceccarelli and Cameron Petrie
On Saturday 5 December 2020, the first ever online version of the Allchin Symposium was hosted in Cambridge. In keeping with the tradition of the event, scholars at various stages of their careers, usually based in the UK, presented their papers in front of an audience of their peers, but the new online format made it possible to diversify both the speakers and the audience. Rather than a limit imposed by the size of a room at the Ancient India and Iran Trust, hundreds of students and researchers joined the remote event from all over the world, including South Asia, the USA, Spain and Italy.
The first group of speakers presented papers on the prehistoric and protohistoric periods. These included Dr Parth R. Chauhan (HSS, IISER Mohali, India): ‘New Paleoanthropological Evidence from the Central Narmada Basin, India’; Charusmita Gadekar (Institución Milà i Fontanals, Barcelona): ‘Early Harappan Interaction between Sindh and Gujarat: As Evidenced by Lithic Tools from Juna Khatiya, Gujarat; and Carolina Jiménez Arteaga and Óscar Parque (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona): Bioarchaeology of the Indus Civilisation: A Multi-Proxy analysis from Bhando Qubo, Sindh, Pakistan).
A second group of speakers presented research papers spanning from ancient to modern South Asia, with a special emphasis on the impact of their projects on contemporary cultural heritage. These presenters included NTICVA Visiting Fellow at the AIIT, Prof. Arjun Rao (Central University of Karnataka): ‘Revisiting 1954: Raymond Allchin in Raichur, South India’; Jiajing Mo (Durham University): ‘Re-Interpreting Xiyu ji and Reconsidering its Role in the Study of Early India’; Srija Sahay (University of Delhi): ‘Monuments to Water: A Study of the Chand Baori Tughlaqabad Fort, Delhi’; and Diptarka Datta (Deccan College, Pune): ‘Prospects of Rescue Archaeology and Heritage Tourism’.
In the middle of the day, Prof. Massimo Vidale (University of Padua, Italy) delivered an exciting keynote speech on the warehouse of Tappeh Taleb Khan 2 (Sistan, Iran) and the development of sealing in the second half of the 3rd millennium BC.
The final session focused on themes of ancient South Asian crafts, settlements and food production. The speakers were Former AIIT Bursary recipient Nicholas Groat (University of Sheffield): ‘Settlements, Crafts and Food Rethinking Technological Complexity: A Critical Overview of Proffered Distillation Apparatus in Gandhāra and South-Central Asia’; Eduard L. Fanthome (Stanford University): ‘Walking within Walls: Politics, Movement and Settlement on the Margins of the Cosmopolis in Medieval Southern India’; and Jennifer Bates (University of Pennsylvania): ‘Refitted Bone, Food Lumps and Terracotta Cakes: Thinking Through the Complex Creation of a Midden Pit at Kadebakele’.
You can view a recording of the symposium on the event’s Facebook page.