Fortified Cities of Ancient India

Fortified Cities of Ancient India

A Comparative Study

By Dieter Schlingloff

Cultural, Historical and Textual Studies of South Asian Religions

Anthem South Asian Studies

Based on solid textual and archeological research, this volume offers a comparative exploration of the development of towns and cities in ancient India.

Hardback, 112 Pages


October 2013

£70.00, $115.00

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About This Book

Authored by one of the leading scholars of German Indology, “Fortified Cities in Ancient India” offers a comparative exploration of the development of towns and cities in ancient India. Based on in-depth textual and archeological research, Professor Dieter Schlingloff’s work presents for the first time the striking outcomes of intertwining data garnered from a wide range of sources. This volume scrutinizes much of the established knowledge on urban fortifications in South Asia, advancing new conceptions based on an authoritative, far-reaching study.


The author’s analysis of individual urban dwellings at Bhita, in
light of the Ajanta paintings, is particularly illuminating and provides invaluable context for Kauṭilya’s instructions on the construction of the king’s residence as well as more humble homes. ... Throughout this volume, Schlingloff makes many further contributions to our understanding of the
Arthaśāstra'. —Mark McClish, Journal of the American Oriental Society 136.1 (2016)

Author Information

Dieter Schlingloff is an honorary professor at University of Leipzig, and is the former head of the Department of Indology and Iranian Studies at the University of Munich.


Cultural, Historical and Textual Studies of South Asian Religions

Anthem South Asian Studies

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1. THE LAYOUT OF THE CITY: The analysis of the reference to towns in epic, Buddhist and Jain literature shows that such texts contain a variety of stock phrases concerning city architecture (p. 11–14). Specialist statements contained in the Kauṭilīya Arthaśāstra elucidate these (p. 14–16). A survey of the results of archaeological research (p. 16–28) verifies these statements and confirms the planning of Old Indian cities (p. 28–29). The investigation of house architecture (p. 30–32) illuminates the question of the population density in the cities, which had the same dimension as contemporary Greek and Roman cities (p. 32). According to Megasthenes, Pāṭaliputra, however, was 10–20 times larger than the usual towns; nearly double the size of imperial Rome, it was the greatest city of the ancient world (p. 32–33). Combining the notes of Megasthenes with statements from Indian literature (p. 33–35) and archaeology (p. 35–37), the boundaries of ancient Pāṭaliputra can be reconstructed (p. 37–40). This proves that the Bhikna Pahadi was on the one hand, in accordance with the prescriptions of the Kauṭilīya, a monument in the centre of the city (p. 39–40); Kumrahar, on the other, never could have been a palatial area, but rather was a pleasure hall outside the city wall (p. 40–43). After investigating the historical development of Pāṭaliputra (p. 43–46), the similarities and differences in the development of Greek and Indian cities are discussed which proves that the different constitutions of the states are conform with the different positions of Greek and Indian cityscapes (p. 46–48). Overview (p. 49). Figures 1–29 (p. 52–56). CHAPTER 2. THE CONSTRUCTION OF A FORTIFICATION: The chapter on city fortifications in the Arthaśāstra, regarded as the most obscure in Kauṭilya’s work, is elucidated by the results of excavations as as by building technical and military considerations (p. 57–59). Its prescriptions regarding the size and form of moats, ramparts and walls (p. 59–63) generally correspond with the archaeological finds (p. 63–69). The texts continues with the description of the defences, viz. towers, embrasures etc. (p. 69–72). The most elaborate description concerns the city gates, details of which reveal a striking similarity with gates, especially in Sisupalgarh and Śrāvastī (p. 72–82). Lexicographical results (p. 83–84). Figures 1–30 (p. 86–90). CHAPTER 3. THE MODEL OF THE CITY IN NARRATIVE AJANTA PAINTINGS: Some of the narrative Ajanta paintings show the depicted events embedded into an ideal city plan. This plan, divested of the figures acting in them reveals a generalised sketch of the cityscape which may complete the picture of the cities of Ancient India elaborated on in chapters 1 and 2 (p. 91–92). Figures 1–8 (p. 93–96). LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS; INDEX; ABOUT THE AUTHOR


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