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Prof. Dr. Himanshu Prabha Ray


Himanshu Prabha Ray is at present Chairperson, National Monuments Authority, Ministry of Culture, Government of India, New Delhi. Until August 2012, she was Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, which she joined in 1980. Her research interests include the Archaeology of Religion in Asia, especially Buddhism and Maritime History and Archaeology of the Indian Ocean. She has written extensively on Buddhism, her most recent publication being The Return of the Buddha: Ancient Symbols for a New Nation, Routledge, 2013. Drawing on archaeological reports and newspaper accounts, the book examines the extent to which the institutionalization of archaeology in India influenced the study of India’s Buddhist past in the last three hundred years.
Moving away from conventional periodization of ancient Indian history, a volume titled Reimagining Asoka: Memory and History jointly edited with Patrick Olivelle, Janice Leoshko and Himanshu Prabha Ray published by Oxford University Press, 2012, raises important questions on the beginning of history and archaeology in the modern period. The book examines the extent to which nineteenth century initiatives have affected the study of Asoka and his reign.
In her 2003 publication on Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia, Cambridge University Press, Ray has examined the maritime orientation of communities of the Indian subcontinent prior to European expansion. She has used archaeological data to reveal the connections between the early history of peninsular South Asia and its Asian and Mediterranean partners in the Indian Ocean region.



Chairperson, National Monuments Authority
24 Tilak Marg, New Delhi 110001

603 Ivory Towers, The Retreat Complex
Sector 30, South City I
Gurgaon 122007, Haryana



  • The Return of the Buddha: Ancient Symbols for a New Nation, Routledge India, 2014.
  • Colonial Archaeology in South Asia (1944-1948): The Legacy of Sir Mortimer Wheeler in India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2007.
  • Monuments in India, Wisdom Tree India, New Delhi, 2007.
  • The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia, Cambridge World Archaeology Series, Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  • The Winds of Change: Buddhism and the Maritime Links of Early South Asia, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1994; Oxford India Paperbacks, 1999; 2nd impression 2000.
  • Monastery & Guild: Commerce under the Satavahanas, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1986.

Edited works:

  • Satish Chandra and Himanshu Prabha Ray edited, The Sea, Identity and History: From the Bay of Bengal to the South China Sea, Manohar Publishers, 2013.
  • Patrick Olivelle, Janice Leoshko and H. P. Ray edited, Reimagining Aśoka: Memory and History, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2012.
  • H.P. Ray edited, Sanghol and the Archaeology of Punjab, Aryan Books International, New Delhi, 2010.
  • H.P. Ray edited, Archaeology and Text: The Temple in South Asia, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2010.
  • H.P. Ray edited, Sacred Landscapes in Asia: Shared Traditions, Multiple Histories, Preface by Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, Chairperson, India International Centre - Asia Project, Manohar Publishers, New Delhi, 2007.
  • H. P. Ray and Daniel T. Potts, edited, Memory as History: The Legacy of Alexander in Asia, Aryan Books International, New Delhi, 2007.
  • H. P. Ray and E. A. Alpers, edited, Cross Currents and Community Networks: Encapsulating the History of the Indian Ocean World, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2007.
  • H.P. Ray edited, Coins in India: Power and Communication, ed. H. P. Ray, Marg Publications, volume 57, 3, March 2006.
  • H. P. Ray and Carla Sinopoli, edited, Archaeology as History in Early South Asia, Indian Council for Historical Research & Aryan Books International, New Delhi, 2004.
  • H.P. Ray edited, Archaeology of Seafaring: The Indian Ocean in the Ancient Period, Indian Council for Historical Research Monograph Series I, New Delhi, 1999.
  • H. P. Ray and J.-F. Salles, edited, Tradition and Archaeology: Early Maritime Contacts in the Indian Ocean, Manohar Publishers, New Delhi, 1996. Updated edition 2012.

Chapters in Books:

  • “Archaeology of Early Temples in the Chalukyan Regions,” Shonaleeka Kaul edited, Cultural History of Early South Asia: A Reader, Orient Black Swan, New Delhi, 2014.
  • “From multi-religious sites to mono-religious monuments in South Asia: The colonial legacy of heritage management,” Patrick Daly and Tim Winter edited, Routledge Handbook of Heritage in Asia, Routledge, London & New York, 2012: 69-84.
  • “Writings on the Maritime History of Ancient India,” Sabyasachi Bhattacharya edited, Approaches to History: Essays in Indian Historiography, Indian Council of Historical Research and Primus Books, 2011: 27-54.
  • “Society and Culture in Southeast Asia and India’s Contacts before 1500 AD,” Satish Chandra and Baladas Ghoshal edited, India and Southeast Asia: Cultural, Economic and Strategic Linkages, Gyan Publishing House, 2011: 57-72.
  • “The Archaeology of Stupas: Constructing Buddhist Identity in the Colonial Period,” Jason Hawkes and Akira Shimada edited, Buddhist Stupas in South Asia, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 3-19.
  • “Interpreting the Mauryan Empire: Centralized state or multiple centers of control?” Grant Parker and Carla Sinopoli edited, Ancient India in its Wider World, University of Michigan Press, 2008: 13-51.
  • “Inscribed Pots, Emerging Identities: The Social Milieu of Trade”, Patrick Olivelle edited, Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006, pp. 113-143.
  • “The Axial Age in South Asia: The Archaeology of Buddhism (500 BC – AD 500)”, Miriam T. Stark edited, Archaeology of Asia, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2006, pp. 303-323.
  • “Far-flung fabrics – Indian textiles in ancient maritime trade”, Ruth Barnes edited, Textiles in Indian Ocean Societies, London: Routledge Curzon, 2005: 17-37.
  • “Shipping in the Indian Ocean: An Overview” & “Seafaring in Peninsular India in the Ancient Period: Of Watercraft and Maritime Communities” in David Parkin and Ruth Barnes edited, Ships and the Development of Maritime Technology in the Indian Ocean, London: Routledge Curzon, 2002: 1-27; 62-91.
  • “South and Southeast Asia: The commencement of a lasting relationship”, in K. van Kooij and Marijke Klokke, eds.,Fruits of Inspiration, Studies in honour of Prof J.G. de Casparis, Leiden, 2001, pp. 407-21.
  • “Coastal Trade in the Bay of Bengal”, in J. Reade, ed., Indian Ocean in Antiquity, Kegan Paul International, London, 1996, pp 351-64.

Published Research Papers:

  • 2009 - 2014:
    “Multi-religious Maritime Linkages across the Bay of Bengal” Nicolas Revire and Stephen Murphy edited, Before Siam: Essays in Art and Archaeology, River Books & The Siam Society, Bangkok, 2014: 132-51.
  • “The Shrine in Early Hinduism: The Changing Sacred Landscape” The Journal of Hindu Studies, 2009, 2: 76-96
  • “Providing for the Buddha: Monastic Centres in Eastern India” Arts Asiatiques, 2008, 68: 119-138.

    2006 - 2008:
  • “Coastal Settlements and Communities: Defining the Maritime Landscape in Early South Asia” Lakshmi Subrahmanian edited, Ports, Towns, Cities: A Historical Tour of the Indian Littoral, Marg Publications, Mumbai, 2008, pp. 58-77.
  • “Archaeology and Empire: Buddhist Monuments in Monsoon Asia” The Indian Economic and Social History Review, 45, 3, 2008, pp. 417-449.
  • “Narratives of Faith: Buddhism and Colonial Archaeology in Monsoon Asia”, Asia Research Institute Working Paper Series no. 99, November 2007, pp. 1 - 42. http://www.ari.nus.edu.sg/article_view.asp?id=267
  • “The Archaeology of Ritual Spaces: Satellite Images and Early Chalukyan Temples”, Man and Environment, XXXII (1), 2007, pp. 89-101.
  • “The Beginnings: The Artisan and the Merchant in Early Gujarat, Sixth-Eleventh Centuries”, Ars Orientalis, 34, 2007, pp. 39-61.
  • “The Archaeology of Bengal: Trading Networks, Cultural Identities”, Journal of the Eonomic and Social History of the Orient, Volume 49, Number 1, 2006, pp. 68-95.

    2001 - 2005: 
  • “The Apsidal Shrine in Early Hinduism: Origins, Cultic Affiliation, Patronage”, World Archaeology, 36,3, 2004: 343-359.
  • “Roundtable Review of Michael Pearson, The Indian Ocean”, International Journal of Maritime History, XVI, 1, June, 2004: 153 – 197.
  • “Accumulation of Knowledge: Pilgrimage as Leitmotif in the Indian Ocean in the Ancient Period”, Frans Hüsken and Dick van der Meij edited, Reading Asia: New Research in Asian Studies, Curzon Press, Richmond, 2001: 110-127.

    1991 - 2000:
  • “Maritime Archaeology: the Ethnographic Evidence”, Man and Environment, vol XXI, no 1,1996, pp 74-85.
  • “Seafaring and Maritime Contacts: an Agenda for Historical Analysis”, Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol XXXIX, no 4, 1996, pp 422-31.
  • “The Parallel Tradition – Early Buddhist Narrative Sculpture”, Bulletin of the Deccan College Research Institute, vols LIV-LV, Sir William Jones Commemoration Volume, Pune, 1996, pp 349-56.
  • “Buddhism and Trade in Early Historical India”, in D. Mitra, ed., Explorations in Art and Archaeology of South Asia, Calcutta, 1996, pp 545-56.
  • “The Western Indian Ocean and the Early Maritime Links of the Indian Subcontinent” Indian Economic and Social History Review, vol XXXI, no 1, January-March 1994, pp 65-88.
  • “Kanheri: Archaeology of an Early Buddhist Pilgrim Centre in Western India”, World Archaeology, vol XXVI, no 1, June 1994, pp 35-46.
  • “Satavahanas” & “Mauryan and post-Mauryan Developments”, in G. Burenhult, ed., Old World Civilizations, Harper Collins, 1994, pp 72-7.
  • “Trade and Contacts”, in R. Thapar, ed., Perspectives in Ancient Indian History, Popular Prakashan, Bombay, 1995, pp 142-67.
  • “East Coast Trade in Peninsular India – c BC 200 to 400 AD”, A.J. Gail, ed., South Asian Archaeology, Berlin, 1993, pp 573-84.
  • “A Resurvey of Roman Contacts with the East”, TOPOI, vol 3/2, 1993, pp 479-91.
  • “In Search of Suvarnabhumi: Early Sailing Networks in the Bay of Bengal”, Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association, no 10, 1991, pp 357-65.

    1981 - 1990:
  • “Seafaring in the Bay of Bengal in the Early Centuries AD”, Studies in History, vol VI, no 1, 1990, pp 1-14
  • Papers on: “Ahar”, “Jaina”, “Jorwe”, “Monastic Establishments”, “Navdatoli-Maheshwar”, “Nevasa”, “Personal Ornaments”, “Pottery – Glazed Ware” in A. Ghosh, ed., Encyclopaedia of Indian Archaeology, New Delhi, 1989
  • “Early Maritime Contacts between South and Southeast Asia”, Journal of South East Asian Studies, vol XX, no 1, 1989, pp 42-54
  • “Early Historical Settlements in the Deccan – an Ecological Perspective”, Man and Environment, vol XIV, no 1, 1989, pp 103-8
  • “Early Historical Trade – an Overview”, Indian Economic and Social History Review, vol XXVI, no 4, 1989, pp 437-57
  • “Yavana Presence in Ancient India”, Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol XX, no 1, 1988, pp 311-25
  • “Early Buddhist Caves in the Western Deccan”, Expedition, vol XXX, no 2, 1988, pp 3-9
  • “Early Trade in the Bay of Bengal”, Indian Historical Review, vol XIV, nos 1&2, July 1987-January 1988
  • “Inscribed Potsherds – a Study”, Indica, Journal of the Heras Institute, Bombay, vol XXIV, no 1, 1987, pp 1-14
  • “Early Historical Urbanisation – the Case of the Western Deccan”, World Archaeology, vol XIX, no 1, 1987, pp 94-104
  • “Trade in the Western Deccan during the Satavahana Period”, Studies in History, vol I, no 1, 1985, pp 15-35

    1970 - 1980:
  • “Sakti Cult in the Seventh to the Ninth Centuries AD”, in UV Singh, ed., Archaeological Congress & Seminar: 1972, Kurukshetra, 1976
  • “Zoomorphic Ornaments in Early Indian Sculpture”, in R. Subramanyam, ed., Sri M.S. Sarma Commemoration Volume, Hyderabad, 1976
  • “Anthropomorphic Ornaments in Early Indian Sculpture”, Puratattva, vol VII, 1973
  • Regular reviews in: Indian History Review, Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Asian Perspectives, International Journal of Maritime History, Biblio.