This project aims at reconstructing the religious, cultural and political history of the Kathmandu Valley during the early medieval period. A particular focus is the analysis of the Kathmandu Valley’s valuable corpus of Sanskrit stone inscriptions dating from the fifth to the eighth centuries CE, centuries known as the “Licchavi period”. Despite their historical significance for the study of early medieval Nepal, prior to the research activities of the PI and her collaborators, these inscriptions had not been systematically documented and only studied with pre-digital methods. Historical reconstructions of this period have largely adopted a purely textual approach, focused on individual inscriptions, whereby the inscription texts have been studied disassociated from their immediate locational context. Going beyond the purely textual approach, this project aims to retrieve such untold histories and map administrative, political and donative patterns involving the power of the ministers and feudatories, dynamics between the central areas associated with the royal line and outer villages along trade routes, and the role of Hindu and Buddhist religious networks. In addition, the findings will be linked and contextualized against insights from relevant manuscript sources – including early Śaiva, Vaiṣṇava and Tantric works preserved in palm-leaf manuscripts in the Kathmandu Valley – as well as against larger religio-political and cultural developments in South Asia at large.
The project will also for the first time make available the majority of the corpus of early Nepal inscriptions in an online database, including comprehensive documentation of their material aspects, English translations, philological and historical commentaries, and a glossary.