Annual Allchin Symposium on South Asia Archaeology
Massed group of Gandhara Buddha and Boddhisattva images collected at Loriyan Tangai (Peshawar District), Photo by: Alexander E. Caddy, 1896 © The British Library Board, Photo 1003/(1042)
The Annual Allchin Symposium on South Asian Archaeology was established to create a forum where UK‐based scholars working in South Asian Archaeology can meet annually. It was named after Raymond and Bridget Allchin to commemorate their work, and the outstanding contribution that they made to the development of South Asian studies in the UK.
The UK is currently home to the largest community of scholars working on South Asia outside of South Asia itself. Yet, until recently, there has been no regular forum to meet, exchange ideas and share research. The Annual Allchin Symposium provides an opportunity to bring together UK‐based scholars working in South Asian Archaeology, and also those researching South Asian History and the History of Art and Architecture, including established lecturers as well as post‐doctoral researchers and PhD students. It creates a much‐needed forum for the presentation and discussion of current research as well as methodological and theoretical concerns that affect research in South Asia. Discussions strengthen existing research, foster new ideas and promote synergies between different areas, periods and subjects of study. This is of great benefit to staff and students alike, many of whom work as isolated researchers within larger departments and institutions where the needs and questions relevant to the study of ancient South Asia do not necessarily correspond with mainstream agendas, and, at times, are overlooked. This is especially critical now that the British Academy has withdrawn its funding for South Asian studies, and scholars of South Asia are being asked to compete for funding on an increasingly uneven playing field.
The symposium is traditionally held during the first week in December, and we have followed a relatively consistent formula, with a keynote address on a Friday evening, and the main symposium taking place on the Saturday. Since 2015, the aim has been to alternate the venue between the Ancient India and Iran Trust and another UK university.
7 December: The 6th Allchin Symposium was held at SOAS University of London |Programme
30 November–1 December: The 5th Allchin Symposium was again held in Cambridge: jointly at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and The Ancient India and Iran Trust |Programme
2–3 December: The 4th Annual Allchin Symposium was held in Cambridge: jointly at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and The Ancient India and Iran Trust |Programme
4–6 December: The 3rd Annual Allchin Symposium, ‘South Asia and its Neighbours’, was held at Durham University.
Whilst the natural home of the Allchin Symposium is the Ancient India and Iran Trust with its library and strong link with the Allchins, the post-2014 symposium discussion voiced a clear desire for alternate venues to reflect other regional foci of expertise across the UK. As a result, it was agreed that the 2015 event be co-hosted at Durham University on account of its expertise in early historic South Asian archaeology and the presence of the Oriental Museum, home of Sir John Marshall’s photographic archive.
The Symposium Steering Committee also agreed to expand the Symposium to include ‘South Asia and its Neighbours’, in the expectation that this would strengthen links between those studying South Asia and those studying the related regions of Central Asia, South-East Asia, Iran, the Persian Gulf and the Himalayas. These regions are not often brought together in a forum of this kind with South Asia at the centre, although researchers are faced with similar methodological and theoretical challenges as well as exploring similar themes. The papers and sessions were grouped thematically rather than geographically to help facilitate this comparative approach.
The Symposium began on Friday 4 December with a keynote lecture and reception at the Oriental Museum on Friday evening. It continued on Saturday 5 December at the Department of Archaeology and finished in the evening. On Sunday 6 December, a roundtable discussion was held in the morning for Early-Career Researchers and PhD students.
5–6 December: The 2nd Annual Allchin Symposium symposium was again held in Cambridge: jointly at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and The Ancient India and Iran Trust |Programme
6–7 December: The inaugural Annual Allchin Symposium in South Asian Archaeology was held in Cambridge: jointly at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and The Ancient India and Iran Trust |Programme