Written Sources

13644 words 55 pages

The Analysis-criticizing Method of Written Sources
(Through surveying Kautilya’s Arthashastra)

Department of South Asian Studies
Faculty of Oriental Studies
University of Social Sciences and Humanities
Vietnam National University
December, 2012


Historians have used different kinds of sources to reconstruct the narratives of the past or to create a complete and accurate picture of what happened in the past on such aspects as politics, economy, society, culture, religion and art. Their task is not easy and obviously, studying early Indian history also follows this principle. In fact, sources of ancient Indian history are complicated, especially in the case of the written sources, so
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Their significance has sprung from particular features themselves. These sources have become abundant from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries because of the rapid spread of printing. Actually, they have valid points, namely, precision in time, place and authorship which other sources including archaeology, oral tradition, etc. can’t do. However, the author’s subjective perceptions as manifested in these evidences had its limitations. Obviously, all sources of history have the pros and cos. For example, archeological sources give us direct information on matters related to material culture but when it comes to using archaeology for reconstructing the past, we often get some clues, but not a definite or detailed picture. So different ways of interpreting archeological evidences absolutely rely on researchers’ subjective thoughts; or the study of oral traditions can provide available information but their interpolation over the periods brings many scholars troubles in dating exactly or exploiting their content effectively. While studying written sources, historians have also divided them into primary and secondary sources. If the primary sources refer to events or people from the period being studied, the secondary sources are works of historians and their predecessors who have written about the past counts. In brief, written sources encompass narratives and memoirs;


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