The Nilgiri Archaeological Project: Culture and Environment in the Upland Forests of South India from Antiquity to Late Modernity

01 September 2021 → 31 August 2026
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Archaeology of Australia, Asia, Africa, and the Americas
    • Funerary archaeology
    • Landscape archaeology
    • Asian history
    • Landscape and ecological history
Forest-dwellers Nilgiri Mountains South India Surveys Language and text analysis Field research Middle Ages Antiquity Asia Upland Forests Archaeology History
Project description

Indian upland forest-dwellers – like many other indigenous communities around the globe – are under threat from resource extraction, agricultural development and de-forestation as are the material remains of their cultures. These people are still perceived as a-historical therefore research on their past is scant and inadequate. This is the result of a Eurocentric perspective that is still dominant today and relegates Indian upland forest-dwellers to the margins of history. The aim of the NilA project is to change this view and develop a new multidisciplinary framework to study the pre-moder nhistory of indian upland forest dwellers. To this end, research will combine the theories of Subaltern Studies with those of environmental history, and integrate the methods of material culture studies, landscape and environmental archaeology, historical ethnobotany, and textual analysis. To Achieve the project ' s aim, research will focus on the Nilgiri Mountains in southern India, a region of montane subtropical forests and the home country, or (at least) sixteen ethnic groups, from the start of the Common Era to the early 19th century. The NilA project will investigate museum collections, the built and natural environment of the study area, archaeobotanical remains, early colonial botanical collections, and texts in Old Kannada and Old Tamil. Research partnersinclude the Government Museum in Chennai, the Tamil Nadu State Department of Archeology, the Institut Français the Pondichéry, and "L'Orientale" University of Naples.