IOWC Associate: Himanshu Prabha Ray

Himanshu Prabha Ray is Honorary Professor, Distant Worlds Graduate Studies Programme, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich and Board Member, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, Oxford. She is former Chairperson, National Monuments Authority, Ministry of Culture and Former Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her research interests include maritime history and archaeology of the Indian Ocean, the history of archaeology in South and Southeast Asia and the archaeology of religion in Asia.

She is the editor of the Routledge Archaeology and Religion in South Asia Series. This Series in association with the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies reflects on the complex relationship between religion and society through new perspectives and advances in archaeology.

As an archaeologist, Professor Ray has participated in excavations at Purana Qila, New Delhi (1971-72 and 1972-73); Mathura (1973-74), Ban Tha Kae, Lopburi Province, Thailand (December 1989); Arikamedu near Pondicherry (December 1990-February 1991); and Mahasthan, Bangladesh (February 1993). She has also been involved in exploratory surveys of indigenous boat-building techniques on the Orissa coast (February 1996) and the site of Sanghol in Punjab (2007-9).

Professor Ray is the recipient of a number of prestigious research awards appointments, including Anneliese Maier research award of the Humboldt Foundation (2013 – 2018); Membership of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (2010 – 2011); Visiting Professor at University of North Texas (April 2009), Concordia University (October – November 2008), and Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris (May 2008); Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, Singapore (July – September 2007); the Shivdasani Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, Oxford (October-December 2005); and is the Jawaharlal Nehru University Visiting Fellow in Arts at the University of Sydney, Australia (June 2005).

Professor Ray is also a member of the Archaeological Society of India, the Indian Association for Prehistoric & Quaternary Studies, the Indian History Congress and the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association.

Current research

History of archaeology in India and its impact on the study of religion in the colonial and post-colonial period.

Seafaring and maritime contacts in the Indian Ocean.

Digital mapping of the archaeological sites of Aihole-Badami-Pattadakal through satellite imagery. JNU has sanctioned a grant under VC's Discretionary Quota for undertaking this work through its University with Potential for Excellence Programme (UPOE) and the Regional Remote Sensing Service Centre - Bangalore. A unit of the Indian Space Research Organization has implemented it.


Published Books

2017 Susan Verma Mishra & Himanshu Prabha Ray, The Archaeology of Sacred Spaces: The Temple in Western India (2nd century BCE to 8th century CE), London, New York: Routledge.

2015 Beyond Trade: Cultural Roots of India’s Ocean, New Delhi: Aryan Books International.

2014 The Return of the Buddha: Ancient Symbols for a New Nation, London, New York, New Delhi: Routledge.

2007 Colonial Archaeology in South Asia (1861-1948): The Legacy of Sir Mortimer Wheeler. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

2007 Incredible India: Monuments. New Delhi: eWisdom Tree and the Department of Tourism, Ministry of Culture.

2006 A Historical Survey of Seafaring and Maritime Networks of Peninsular India. Lecture Series Publication - 2. Bangalore: Indian Council of Historical Research, Southern Regional Centre. (Booklet)

2003 The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia. Cambridge World Archaeology Series. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

1999 The Winds of Change: Buddhism and the Maritime Links of Early South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

1986 Monastery & Guild: Commerce under the Satavahanas. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Edited Volumes

2016 Bridging The Gulf: Maritime Cultural Heritage of The Western Indian Ocean, New Delhi: India International Centre & Manohar Publishers.

2013 Co-editor (with Satish Chandra) The Sea, Identity and History: From the Bay of Bengal to the South China Sea. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers.

2012 Co-editor (with Patrick Olivelle and Janice Leoshko), Reimagining Aśoka: Memory and History. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

2010 Sanghol and the Archaeology of Punjab. New Delhi: Aryan Books International.

2010 Archaeology and Text: The Temple in South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

2007 Sacred Landscapes in Asia: Shared Traditions, Multiple Histories. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers. (Preface by Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, Chairperson, India International Centre - Asia Project.)

2007 Co-editor (with Daniel T. Potts), Memory as History: The Legacy of Alexander in Asia. New Delhi: Aryan Books International.

2007 Co-editor (with E. A. Alpers), Cross Currents and Community Networks: Encapsulating the History of the Indian Ocean World. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

2006 Coins in India: Power and Communication. Mumbai: Marg Publications.

2004 Co-editor (with Carla Sinopoli), Archaeology as History in Early South Asia. New Delhi: Indian Council for Historical Research and Aryan Books International.

1999 Archaeology of Seafaring: The Indian Ocean in the Ancient Period. Monograph Series I. New Delhi: Indian Council for Historical Research.

1996 Co-editor (with J.-F. Salles), Tradition and Archaeology: Early Maritime Contacts in the Indian Ocean. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers.

Articles, Chapters and Reviews

2011 "Writings on the Maritime History of Ancient India." In Approaches to History: Essays in Indian Historiography, edited by Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, 27-54. New Delhi: Indian Council of Historical Research in association with Primus Books, Delhi.

2011 "Society and Culture in Southeast Asia and India’s Contacts before 1500 AD." In India and Southeast Asia: Cultural, Economic and Strategic Linkages, edited by Satish Chandra and Baladas Ghoshal, 57-72. New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House.

2009 "The Archaeology of Stupas: Constructing Buddhist Identity in the Colonial Period." In Buddhist Stupas in South Asia, edited by Jason Hawkes and Akira Shimada, 3-19. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

2009 "The Shrine in Early Hinduism: The Changing Sacred Landscape." The Journal of Hindu Studies 2: 76-96.

2008 "Interpreting the Mauryan Empire: Centralized state or multiple centers of control?" In Ancient India in its Wider World, edited by Grant Parker and Carla Sinopoli, 13-51. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

2008 "Providing for the Buddha: Monastic Centres in Eastern India." Arts Asiatiques 68: 119-138.

2008 "Coastal Settlements and Communities: Defining the Maritime Landscape in Early South Asia." In Ports, Towns, Cities: A Historical Tour of the Indian Littoral, edited by Lakshmi Subrahmanian, 58-77. Mumbai: Marg Publications.

2008 "Archaeology and Empire: Buddhist Monuments in Monsoon Asia." The Indian Economic and Social History Review 45.3: 417-449.

2007 "Narratives of Faith: Buddhism and Colonial Archaeology in Monsoon Asia." Asia Research Institute Working Paper Series 99: 1-42. (Accessible at

2007 "The Archaeology of Ritual Spaces: Satellite Images and Early Chalukyan Temples." Man and Environment XXXII.1: 89-101.

2007 “The Beginnings: The Artisan and the Merchant in Early Gujarat, Sixth-Eleventh Centuries." Ars Orientalis 34: 39-61.

2006 "The Axial Age in South Asia: The Archaeology of Buddhism (500 BC - AD 500)." In Archaeology of Asia, edited by Miriam T. Stark, 303-323. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

2006 "The Archaeology of Bengal: Trading Networks, Cultural Identities." Journal of the Eonomic and Social History of the Orient 49.1: 68-95.

2006 "Inscribed Pots, Emerging Identities: The Social Milieu of Trade." In Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE, edited by Patrick Olivelle. New York: Oxford University Press.

2005 "Far-flung fabrics - Indian textiles in ancient maritime trade." In Textiles in Indian Ocean Societies, edited by Ruth Barnes, 17-37. London: Routledge Curzon.

2004 "The Apsidal Shrine in Early Hinduism: Origins, Cultic Affiliation, Patronage." World Archaeology 36.3: 343-359.

2004 "Roundtable Review of Michael Pearson, The Indian Ocean." International Journal of Maritime History XVI.1: 153-197.

2002 "Shipping in the Indian Ocean: An Overview" and "Seafaring in Peninsular India in the Ancient Period: Of Watercraft and Maritime Communities." In Ships and the Development of Maritime Technology in the Indian Ocean, edited by David Parkin and Ruth Barnes, 1-27 and 62-91, respectively. London: Routledge Curzon.

2001 "South and Southeast Asia: The commencement of a lasting relationship." In Fruits of Inspiration: Studies in honour of Prof J.G. de Casparis, edited by K. van Kooij and Marijke Klokke, 407-421. Groningen: Egbert Forsten.

1996 "Maritime Archaeology: the Ethnographic Evidence." Man and Environment XXI.1: 74-85.

1996 "Coastal Trade in the Bay of Bengal." In Indian Ocean in Antiquity, edited by J. Reade, 351-364. London: Kegan Paul International.

1996 "Seafaring and Maritime Contacts: An Agenda for Historical Analysis." Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient XXXIX.4: 422-431.

1996 "The Parallel Tradition - Early Buddhist Narrative Sculpture." Bulletin of the Deccan College Research Institute LIV-LV: 349-56.

1996 "Buddhism and Trade in Early Historical India." In Explorations in Art and Archaeology of South Asia, edited by D. Mitra, 545-556. Calcutta: Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of West Bengal.

1995 "Trade and Contacts." In Perspectives in Ancient Indian History, edited by R. Thapar, 142-167. Bombay: Popular Prakashan.

1994 "The Western Indian Ocean and the Early Maritime Links of the Indian Subcontinent." Indian Economic and Social History Review XXXI.1: 65-88.

1994 "Kanheri: Archaeology of an Early Buddhist Pilgrim Centre in Western India." World Archaeology XXVI.1: 35-46.

1994 "Satavahanas" and "Mauryan and post-Mauryan Developments." In Old World Civilizations, edited by G. Burenhult, 72-77. San Francisco: Harper Collins.

1993 "East Coast Trade in Peninsular India - c. BC 200 to 400 AD." In South Asian Archaeology, edited by A.J. Gail, 573-584. Wechselnde Verlagsorte: Wechselnde Verl.

1993 "A Resurvey of Roman Contacts with the East."TOPOI 3/2: 479-491.

1991 "In Search of Suvarnabhumi: Early Sailing Networks in the Bay of Bengal." Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association 10: 357-365.

1990 "Seafaring in the Bay of Bengal in the Early Centuries AD." Studies in History VI.1: 1-14.

1990 "Ahar," "Jaina," "Jorwe," "Monastic Establishments," "Navdatoli-Maheshwar," "Nevasa," "Personal Ornaments," and "Pottery – Glazed Ware." In Encyclopaedia of Indian Archaeology, edited by A. Ghosh. Leiden: E.J. Brill.

1989 "Early Maritime Contacts between South and Southeast Asia." Journal of South East Asian Studies XX.1: 42-54.

1989 "Early Historical Settlements in the Deccan - An Ecological Perspective." Man and Environment XIV.1: 103-108.

1989 "Early Historical Trade - An Overview." Indian Economic and Social History Review XXVI.4: 437-457.

1988 "Yavana Presence in Ancient India." Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient XX.1: 311-325.

1988 "Early Buddhist Caves in the Western Deccan." Expedition XXX.2: 39.

988 "Early Trade in the Bay of Bengal." Indian Historical Review XIV.1/2.

1987 "Inscribed Potsherds - A Study." Indica (Journal of the Heras Institute, Bombay) XXIV.1: 1-14.

1987 "Early Historical Urbanisation - The Case of the Western Deccan." World Archaeology XIX.1: 94-104.

1985 "Trade in the Western Deccan during the Satavahana Period." Studies in History I.1: 15-35.

1976 "Zoomorphic Ornaments in Early Indian Sculpture." In Sri M.S. Sarma Commemoration Volume, edited by R. Subramanyam. Hyderabad.

1973 "Anthropomorphic Ornaments in Early Indian Sculpture." Puratattva VII.

1972 "Sakti Cult in the Seventh to the Ninth Centuries AD." In Archaeological Congress & Seminar: 1972, edited by U.V. Singh. Kurukshetra.

Professor Ray also regularly reviews books for the Indian History Review, Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Asian Perspectives, International Journal of Maritime History, and Biblio.