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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 2, p. 1.


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THE INDIAN EMPIRE
VOLUME II
HISTORICAL
CHAPTER I
EPIGRAPHY
I. Introductory Note
THE subject of this contribution to the Imperial Gazetteer Introduc-
is the explanation of the nature and value of the epigraphic tory note.
or inscriptional bases of Indian research for the pre-Musal-
man period. And the topic is an important one; for, not
only is India particularly rich in inscriptional remains, but
also those remains are the only sure grounds of historical
results in every line of research connected with its ancient
past. We have, however, to exclude from our treatment of
this subject one branch which has always been found more
generally attractive than any of the others. The inscriptions
on coins and gems, better termed, by way of avoiding con-
fusion, 'legends' on coins and gems, are epigraphic materials.
But they are a special class of such materials; and the treat-
ment of them falls, most properly, under the subdivision of
numismatology. We have to confine our attention here to
those epigraphic remains which have come to be best known
as 'inscriptions' by way of distinction from the numismatic
materials. Nevertheless, we hope to be able to show that our
topic is no dry and dull one, but is full of interest as well as
importance.
The inscriptions, thus indicated as our topic, are notifica-
tions, very frequently of an official character, and generally more
or less of a public nature, which recite facts, simple or complex,
with or without dates, and were intended to be lasting records
of the matters to which they refer. They are in almost all cases
found engraved, not written. They were occasionally engraved
VOL. II. B



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