Introduction to Inscriptions

The formation of independent societies like Asiatic Society by Sir William Jones on 15th January 1784, provided the fillip to study the ancient remains of India. The interest kindled was so enormous, that the contributions started pouring from all remote corners of the sub-continent. But Jones himself needs to be appreciated for his identification of Chandragupta Maurya with the Sandrokottos of the Greek historians, thereby providing a firm datum for fixing the chronology of later kings.

Still, the lack of written evidence was a serious poser to the early antiquarians. There were numerous inscriptions engraved on the walls of the monuments in front of them but there were none to read and understand them. Many unfounded stories about them were in vogue, perhaps truly, as per the accounts of early scholars.

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But few enlightened like James Princep believed otherwise. They thought that in deciphering these inscriptions lies the key to unfold the untold history of India. This hurdle was fortunately surmounted by the decipherment of Brahmi script by James Princep between 1834 and 1837 and the identification of Piyadasi of the Brahmi inscriptions with the Emperor Asoka and the establishment of his contemporaneity with Antiochus III and Ptolemy Philadelphos helped the Indian history on a secure datum line.

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From that time onwards, the study of inscriptions have been undertaken by scholars belonging to various organisations like the Epigraphy branch of Archaeological Survey of India, epigraphist from various State departments of Archaeology, universities and the like. In fact, the interpretations offered by many scholars not attached to these institutions are equally important.

Any person, who visits our temples regularly, would have observed that the walls of the temples are engraved with some writings. To them, they are Greek and Latin. Some of the interested may go a bit far and identify the letters in them. To their surprise, they can identify a few letters very similar to the one written now. When they do so, they are happy.

But should this be the end? Can we not take a step or two ahead? To those have this curiosity the Academy has designed this course.


♦ This course will have 36 hours of classroom lectures, currently conducted at Chennai,India

♦ Spread over 12 Sundays with three hours every Sunday

♦ Two day field visit (a Saturday and a Sunday) for on site training


♦ A keen interest

♦ Working knowledge of Tamil script and language

Course Content

♦ Introduction to ancient Indian Scripts and languages (3 hours)

♦ Origin and Development of Brahmi Script (6 hours)

♦ Development of Tamil Script over the centuries (18 hours)

♦ Related subjects like Ephemeris, astronomical dating etc., (3 hours)

♦ Interpretation of Inscriptions and culling historical information (3 hours)

♦ Significant Inscriptions (3 hours)

Methods of teaching

♦ Regular lectures

♦ PowerPoint presentations

♦ Practical works

Launching of the Course

♦ The first set of course was launched on Jan,2009 and successfully completed. More information about this can be seen in this article

♦ The second set of course has been started in Aug 2009. More information about this can be seen in this article

On line version of the course

♦ An online version of the course with 18 lessons will also be launched soon for those interested but living abroad/could not attend the classes in person.

♦ It will be done through mailing the course contents with response mails

♦ Contact classes will be conducted

To Register For A Course

Please send an email to