Mega Mammals in Ancient India ventures to look into eras bygone in order to chronicle the passage of three mega species – the rhinoceros, tiger, and elephant across millennia in early north India. It carefully sifts through an archive comprising faunal remains and visual depictions retrieved from the archaeological record as well as a gamut of Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, and classical Western accounts to document the presence of these big mammals in various cultural niches from hunter-gatherer societies to the first urban civilization of India and beyond. The narrative goes beyond treating these species as mere cultural icons to one that is also sensitive to their importance as markers of ecology. The focus is two-fold: to comprehend perceptions, attitudes, and sensibilities oscillating between veneration and persecution in order to reconstruct the cultural dimensions of human-megafaunal relations in the past, as also to use these species to understand the larger ecology of ancient India.
At a time when the conservation of our megafaunal heritage is a major concern for biologists, ecologists as well as conservationists, Mega Mammals in Ancient India underlines the need to historicize human interactions with these mega mammals keeping in mind that an animal's past is critical in thinking about its future.
List of illustrations
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 Trailing the One-horned Wonder
Chapter 3 Beyond the Glittering Eye: Tiger Tales from Ancient India
Chapter 4 Trunk Calls in Antiquity: The Elephant in Archaeology and Art
Chapter 5 Trunk Calls in Antiquity: The Elephant in Textual Traditions
Chapter 6 Conclusion
About the Author
Shibani Bose is currently a visiting scholar in the Department of History, University of Minnesota. She has also been a visiting scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She received her MPhil and PhD from the Department of History, University of Delhi, and has taught at Miranda House, University of Delhi, and also at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota. Her research interests include archaeology, animal studies, human-animal interactions, and environmental history. She has contributed essays in edited volumes, and has also co-authored The Story of India's Unicorns with Divyabhanusinh and Asok Kumar Das.