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Epigraphy

Epigraphical Survey and Publications

The word Epigraphy consists of two words - ‘Epi’ meaning old and ‘graphy’, that is old writing, which means ancient writing. Epigraphy, starts at the threshold of history, where pre-history ends. It is a science of the knowledge of script which takes shape and is subjected to constant change, when the man of antiquity, gives vent to his thoughts in the forms of signs of writing. The earliest form of the script so far discovered in India was found in the Indus Seals.

The next stage in the evolution of writing is the inscriptions of Ashoka Maurya, who extended his sway over entire India. James Princep, the Essay Master of the East India Company at Calcutta, first deciphered this script on the basis of bilingual inscriptions, in Kharoshti and Greek languages. Thus he paved the way for Epigraphical Research in Modern India.

Information regarding political, social, religious and economic conditions of the people can be gleaned from inscriptions. Each inscription contains (1) Invocation to the God, (2) the genealogy of the donor, (3) genealogy of the donee, (4) the grant and lastly (5) an address to the future kings quoting Vysya gitas. Information is to be gathered from the above contents in the inscription. Generally, the epithets of the donor gives us a clue to his achievements.

The Government of Andhra Pradesh had officially started the Epigraphy Section on 2nd December, 1964 in the Department of Archaeology. The main basis of Epigraphy section is to collect lithic and copper plate inscriptions, by conducting village to village survey in the districts and to publish the collected material.

During the Epigraphical Survey, the Department of Archaeology & Museums has collected 7,478 estampages belonging to the different dynasties which had ruled the Andhra Desa, out of which 2,795 are from the districts of Telangana State, which are primary sources for reconstructing the history of the State of Telangana. So far the Department has published Inscriptions collected from five Districts namely Karimnagar, Nalgonda, Warangal, Mahabubnagar and Medak. Epigraphical survey in Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, and Nizamabad is completed and the volumes have to be published. In Khammam and Adilabad a village wise survey has to be taken up.

The Epigraphy section has so far collected about 7242 Epigraphs by conducting village to village survey in various districts of the state. About 47 books and monographs have been published under Epigraphical Series by the Department, which consists of individual inscriptions, Corpus of inscriptions, Annual reports, Epigraphia Andhrica Volumes and District wise volumes.

1. Inscriptions of Warangal District
2. Inscriptions of Karimnagar District
3. Inscriptions of Nalgonda District
4. Inscriptions of Medak District
5. Inscriptions of Mahabubnagar District

Epigraphy which deals with study of inscriptions on various structures such as rocks, pillars, copper plates, temple walls, and other writing material is considered as one of the most fascinating and studies. The field deals with art of writing, thereby distinguishing man from animals and offers an important instrument for conservation as well as transmission of historical traditions from one generation to other generation.

Inscriptions have become the main source for reconstruction of the history and also the culture of ancient civilizations. Epigraphy forms the primary documentary evidence for establishing legal, socio-cultural followed by literary, archaeological, and historical antiquity derived on the basis of engravings.

Many inscriptions are of independent value and also interest, and based the object they are used for the purpose, they are classified as (a) Religious and (b) Political & Social. Since most of ancient civilizations have religion as part of the established State, there is no much distinction between the two.