Intro to the Archaeology of Indian Buddhism

A course of thirteen lectures given earlier this year by Jason D. Hawkes, Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at Leiden University.


Dr Hawkes’ LinkedIn profile


Thanks so much for posting this! Have you listened to the series yet?

For those who are interested, it seems to cover the period from 500 BCE to 1000 CE.


I have just started listening—it seems like very well done! Thanks for posting. :pray:


No, only the first two lectures so far, and then certain sections from some of the later ones that particularly interested me. But just from these I figured the quality was high enough that it merited posting.

It also crossed my mind that Greg Schopen might do well to take a sabbatical so that he can spend a few months with Hawkes, learning to do archaeology properly.


The only thing I know about Greg Schopen (Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks) is that he believes only physical evidence is accurate and that textual evidence is worthless. Is that a fair, if slightly exaggerated, statement?

Yes, fair but slightly exaggerated.

Schopen’s 1991 article, Archaeology and Protestant Presuppositions in the Study of Indian Buddhism is a good starting point for understanding his critical view of what he regards as an unreasonable textualist bias in modern Buddhist studies.

Schopen, Protestant Presuppositions.pdf (2.4 MB)


:joy: Coincidentally, I just read one of Richard Gombrich’s classic clapbacks

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I’ve listened to the lectures 1-3 so far, which cover general material. They are mostly devoted to definitions of terms, defining the scope of the lectures, and then diving into Indian history. He has a section on the red/black pottery, Painted Grey Ware, and Northern Black Polished Ware. I enjoyed that because it is referenced a lot in other histories of India, and the first time I ran across it I kind of glossed over it. So I didn’t really understand its significance. I left off with Dr. Hawkes explaining the way Buddhism was used by the British to help justify their colonization of India (very interesting). He also talks about how once India gained independence, it turned to its Buddhist past for examples of a unified India ruled by Indians.


Does he mention where Northern Black Polished Ware appears in the Suttas? I haven’t come to that lecture yet …

Not yet. Based on what I’ve seen, the first 3 lectures don’t really get into Buddhism too much, except for in very general, broad strokes.

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I’m still in the first lecture … but when reading your comment just remembered an essay by Bhante Sujato on Northern Black Polished Ware.