11 SEPTEMBER 1959, Page 25

Ancient Uses

Early India and Pakistan. By Sir Mortimer

• Wheeler. (Thames and Hudson, 25s.)

UNTIL recently the only book on Indian archaeology available to the general reader was a Pelican (Prehistoric India, by Stuart Piggott). which was sparsely illustrated. Although during the last two or three years several books of a more general and synthetic nature have appeared in India, even the best of them, the Personality of India, by Subbarao, although eminently read- able and often more profound, lacks the illustrations which would bring it to life for the English reader. in view of the vistas opened by the present finely illustrated hook, which covers the whole sweep of Indian prehistory from pakeolithic times to the beginning of the historic period, to point out its minor technical deficien- cies would be carping. For the general reader the value of the book lies in its clear descrip- tions of ancient Indian cultural remains and its excellent documentation. A far more pro- found point of criticism is the absence of inter- pretation—of any attempt to give life to the archaeological facts and the beautifully illustrated objects. In this respect the book falls somewhat behind contemporary archaeological writing in the European field, but this is understandable. for in India much less detailed research has as ■ ci been done. However, neither the geographic nor the ethnographic evidence available have been given the weight that they deserve in a continent Where objeCts found stratified deep down in the ancient city sites may also be found still in use in remote areas--a Use sometimes very different from that attributed by the archaeologist.