Monica L. Smith

Urban Traditions of the Early Historic Period: Excavations at the Ancient City of Sisupalgarh, India


South Asia’s social landscape was vibrant and diverse in the Early Historic period (early centuries BC/AD). Buddhist and Jain traditions grew and were manifested in both architecture and literature, and there was widespread trade within the subcontinent and beyond to the Roman Mediterranean and Southeast Asia. More than 60 large urban centers of this period are known archaeologically throughout the Indian subcontinent, providing points of intersection across a variety of political and social networks. With reference to the ongoing excavations at the ancient city of Sisupalgarh, this lecture will explore how we can use literary and archaeological information to understand the appeal of Early Historic cities for both elites and ordinary residents.


Monica L. Smith is Associate Professor  in the Department of Anthropology, UCLA. Her research interests include urbanism, material culture, and archaeological theory. She is the editor of The Social Construction of Ancient Cities (2003) and author of The Archaeology of an Early Historic Town in Central India (2001). Her present research utilizes diverse archaeological and textual sources to understand the actions of ordinary people in the past. She is currently co-directing excavations in Sisupalgarh with R.K. Mohanty of Deccan College (Pune, India).