By Dr. Robert Simpkins, Lecturer in Anthropology, San Jose State University
The seventeenth-century jewel merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier wrote a record of his travels called Les Six Voyages that is particularly noteworthy for its description of the diamond-rich kingdom of Golconda in India's Deccan plateau. Many later authors on Golconda relied heavily on Tavernier's descriptions, particularly those of his travel itineraries across the kingdom, despite his inaccuracies and the availability of other sources with similar material. Tavernier's visits to the diamond mines of Golconda, however, do not have parallel. Reading Tavernier's accounts about a decade ago, I resolved to verify the stops on his itinerary from Golconda to the diamond mines of Kollur and the port of Masulipatnam, and visit them first-hand. As an archaeologist with an interest in buildings and landscapes, I believed doing so would provide additional perspectives on the Golconda kingdom as well as explain better the experiences of foreign travelers like Tavernier. This talk will include an overview of Tavernier's itinerary and the problems in using it as a source of information, as well as what I concluded a decade later after attempting to follow in Tavernier's footsteps and make sense of my observations from the landscape of modern Andhra Pradesh in India, as well as the value of linking perspectives from textual sources and material remains.
Dr. Robert Simpkins is a Lecturer in Anthropology at San Jose State University and De Anza College. His training is in Archaeology, with field experience in the prehistoric and historic periods of South Asia and North America, and interests in perspectives from Archaeology, History, Geography, and Art History, particularly with respect to cultural landscapes, road networks, and built environments. His Ph.D. through the University of Wisconsin-Madison was completed in 2011.
Light refreshment will be served.
Sponsor(s): Center for India and South Asia
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