A Conservation Code for the Colony: John Marshall’s Conservation Manual and Monument Preservation Between India and Europe

  • Indra Sengupta
Part of the Transcultural Research – Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context book series (TRANSCULT)


This article addresses the framing of the rules of preservation of ancient buildings in colonial India and the resulting code of practice that the first Director-General of Indian Archaeology, Sir John Marshall, published in 1923. The code or John Marshall’s Conservation Manual was designed as a prescriptive colonial text, setting down stringent rules for the practice of monument preservation in a colony, and thus constituted a text of authority. Yet, it was also the product of the kind of tension that was implicit in the operation of colonial state power in India, which resulted from the need to reconcile ideas produced in the metropolitan culture of contemporary Britain with local pressures on the ground in the various regions and localities of India. The intentionality of the text that thus emerged must therefore be understood in the context of the multiple audiences that it sought at the same time to address. By examining the context in which the Conservation Manual was conceived and finally produced, that is, from the early years of the twentieth century until its appearance in 1923, this paper hopes to contribute to a clearer understanding of the problems of the preservation of monuments, especially religious structures, in colonial India during two decades of the most intense legislation and regulation of ancient monuments.


John Marshall Conservation Manual Archaeological Survey of India Cultural heritage Colonial India 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.German Historical Institute LondonLondonUK

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