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In Bada Bagh, located in the Indian state of Rajasthan, royal chhatri cenotaphs were constructed by the Maharajas of the Jaisalmer State in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries CE.

Vaishnavi Patil, a Ph.D candidate in the Harvard Department of History of Art and Architecture, was a recipient of a Mittal Institute’s Winter 2020 Student Grant. Her digital humanities project brings together scholarship based on literature, numismatics and archaeological evidence to provide a comprehensive timeline for South Asian History. Read more about her endeavor in her own words.

Over the wintersession, I worked on a digital humanities project, titled “A Timeline of South Asian History: Dynasties, Rulers and Key Events” which aims to present a detailed chronology of dynasties, regions, and key events throughout South Asian history, stretching from the dawn of the Indus Valley civilization through 1947 CE. Establishing a chronology remains very important to South Asian Studies, as our understanding of history and historical events depends on the dynasties and rulers active within South Asia throughout the centuries. This project brings together new and emerging scholarship to provide the latest proposed dates for the dynasties, rulers and historical events. The goal of the project is to present a comprehensive chronology that will be valuable to scholars of history, art history, South Asian studies, and those interested in the particulars of South Asia’s geographic regions. 

The website is divided into two sections: Chronology and Key Events. During the months of December 2020 and January 2021, I undertook research for the “Chronology” section of the website. While I conducted the research for the timeline, Nina Chen ( (AM, ’21) helped me build a website using OpenScholar, a website platform available to Harvard students. 

The “Chronology” section is divided into pages based on the maps created by Joseph Schwartzberg for A Historical Atlas of South Asia (1978). Each page of the “Chronology” of Dynasties and Rulers of South Asian History has the following components:

  • List of Dynasties: A list of dynasties based on geographic location. 
  • List of Rulers: Date range for dynasties and the list of rulers of the various dynasties active during a particular time period. Organized by region.
  • Geographic Map: Geographic map created by Joseph Schwartzberg for A Historical Atlas of South Asia (1978), outlining the geographic demarcations of each of the dynasties active during a particular time period. 
  • Citations: The lists of dynasties and rulers are accompanied by citations for sources for the dates and chronologies.
  • Bibliography: A bibliography for the citations. The bibliography is arranged in accordance with the organization of the timeline. 

This information frequently changes, with chronological dating changing through new publications. Completion of the site will never occur; we are always in the process of collecting new dates proposed by scholarship and revisiting the chronologies presented on this platform. While the grant helped us to kick off the project and complete the “Chronology” section for the website, I will continue work on the “Key Events” section of the Timeline, and Sarah Fleming (HDS ’21) will help me build a comprehensive Key Events timeline over the upcoming summer.