The Ancient Geography of India (Signed copy)
Signed by Alexander Cunningham to his son, 1871, first edition—very rare
Full title: The Ancient Geography of India. I. The Buddhist Period, including the Campaigns of Alexander, and the Travels of Hwen-Thsang. With thirteen maps.
First edition, hardback bound in the original cloth with gilt titling to the spine. 23 × 14.5cm. xx, 589pp, 24pp ads.
This copy has been signed "To Fred Douglas Cunningham, from his Father the Author." Another hand has added Simla, August 1875. The son was Sir Alexander F D Cunningham of the Indian Civil Service.
Sir Alexander Cunningham, KCIE, CSI (1814–1893) was a British archaeologist and army engineer, known as the father of the Archaeological Survey of India. He saw action at the Battle of Punniar and was with the Army of Sutlej in 1845–46. He later became the Chief of Commission of Ladakh-Tibet boundary with Richard Strachey, then a captain in the British Army and Dr. Thomson in 1847. The Commission was set up to delimit the northern boundaries of the Empire after the First Anglo-Sikh War concluded with the Treaty of Amritsar, which ceded Kashmir as war indemnity expenses to the British. He was also a member of a previous commission to chart the border of Ladakh under R.A. Vans Agnew. His early works are from his visits to the temples in Kashmir and his travels in Ladakh during his tenure with the Commission. He was also present at the battles of Chilianwala and Gujrat in 1848. In 1851, he explored the Buddhist monuments of Central India along with Lt. Maisey, and wrote an account of these. He was appointed as the Chief Engineer of Burma in 1856 for two years, and later for three years from 1858 he served in the same post in the North-western Provinces.
The Archaeological Survey of India was set up following a correspondence between Cunningham and Charles John Canning, then the viceroy of India. Cunningham was appointed the first director of the project, which operated from 1861 to 1865. He published the first two volumes of the Archaeological Survey of India during his tenure here. In 1865 the Archaeological Survey was halted and he left India in February 1866 to join the Delhi and London Bank at London as its Director till 1870. In the year 1867, Cunningham was knighted. Upon the resumption of the Archaeological Survey in 1870, he returned to India to take up the position of Director-general of the ASI on 1 January, 1871 maintaining his post until 1885. He was the author of 11 volumes of the ASI, while the rest were written under his supervision. He retired on 30 September, 1885 and returned to London, and continued to write books on the Buddhist excavations and on ancient coins. He also published numerous papers in the Journal of the Asiatic Society and the Numismatic Chronicle.
'Ancient geography' refers here to India's Buddhist period up to the seventh century CE, during which time Buddhism was the subcontinent's dominant religion. This rare 1871 first edition of Alexander Cunningham text draws on material ranging from the campaigns of Alexander the Great to the travels of the seventh-century Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang, who recorded much about India's geographical, political, religious and cultural landscape. Although this book was published as Part I, a subsequent volume on the Muslim period was never completed. The book divides India into geographic sections: Northern, Western, Central, Eastern, Southern, and Ceylon. The appendices are i. Approximate chronology of Hwen Thsang's Travels. ii. Measures of Distance, Yojana, Li, Krosa. iii. Correction of Error in Ptolemy's Eastern Longitudes. All thirteen maps are present.
This rare copy is in heavily worn condition, but is complete. The cloth binding has surface mottling all over and some small holes to the cloth at the rear board. The corners and spine ends are rubbed. The front hinge is attached by three cords of the binding and has cracked open, the binding throughout the book is pulled but as yet, no pages are loose. The pages are a little age-toned but essentially clean. All maps are present and are in good order. Cunningham's inscription is crisp and clear, and there is another previous owner's name to the ffep (believed to be a later family member). This book is in well-read condition and does need some care and conservation but is an incredibly rare title to find signed.
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