102 TIE INDI4AN EMPIRE [CHAP.
and those of historical ages, and we must be content in practice
to treat the remains left by the peoples who fall within the pur-
view of history as if they were separated by a wide gap from
those of unrecorded prehistoric times. Of course, as a matter
of fact, no such gap really existed. The civilization of historical
India is undoubtedly based on that of the neolithic and copper
ages, as modified by the new arts introduced from time to
time by foreign invaders; but the connexion has not been
clearly worked out, and the story of the origins of Indian
civilization has yet to be written.
The The earliest Indian building to which an approximate date
eardlest can be assigned is the sfzpa at Piprahwa on the Nepal frontier,
building, explored by Mr. W. C. Peppd in I898. Very strong reasons
exist for assigning this building to 450 1B. . in round numbers,
shortly after the decease of Gautama Slkyamuni, commonly
known as Buddha. The edifice, which was almost perfect
when opened, is a solid cupola, or domed mass, of brickwork,
Ii6 feet in diameter at the base, and about 22 feet high, built
round and on a massive stone coffer in which relics of the
body of Buddha were enshrined by his tribesmen, the Sˇkyas x.
The bricks are huge slabs set in mud mortar, of which the
largest measure i6 x II x 3 inches. Such a structure is
obviously a development of the earthen tumulus, kiln-baked
brick slabs being substituted for earth in order to ensure
Buildings of similar construction, but probably two or three
hundred years later in date, situated at Bhattiprolu and Gudi-
vada in the Kistna District of Madras, have been described
by Mr. Rea.
State of The construction and contents of the Piprahwa stizpa offer
civilization valuable testimony concerning the state of civilization in
Northern India about 450 B.c., which is quite in accordance
with that elicited from early literary sources. Even in the
much more ancient Vedic age the civilization of the North-
Western Indians was so far advanced that Professor Wilson
could describe it as ' differing little, if at all, from that in which
they were found by the Greeks at Alexander's invasion'
(326 B.C.). Ve need not therefore feel surprised when the
Piprahwa stipa gives us definite information that the Indians on
the frontier of Nepal in 45o B.c. included skilled masons,
accomplished stonecutters, and dainty jewellers. The masonry
of the st/ipa is excellent of its kind, well and truly laid; the
great sandstone coffer could not be better made; and the
i For another interpretation, see Fleet in J.R.A.S., I9o6, p. 149.