Dissertation Defense - Complexity on the Periphery: A study of regional organization at Banavasi, c. 1st – 18th century A.D.
The fortified settlement of Banavasi, in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, has a long history from at least the beginning of the first millennium AD to the present day. The site was the capital of the regional kingdom of the Kadambas from the fourth to the seventh century AD. Before and after this period, Banavasi was at times a small regional administrative center and also emerged as a local sacred and pilgrimage site.
However, the development and organization of Banavasi remains poorly understood due to its ‘peripheral’ location on the edges of larger states and Empires, and its periodic incorporation within these larger systems. How did Banavasi function in its immediate hinterland? How did imperial and intermediate elite groups maintain their authority in the region? What impact, if any, did imperial incorporation have at the site? This defense will answer these and other questions about the organization of what are considered ‘peripheral’ places. Uthara Suvrathan presents the results of a systematic survey conducted at the site, which, along with an analysis of early inscriptions, will show how regional nodes such as Banavasi were important arenas of the creation and display of alliances, both between elite groups at different levels in the political hierarchy and between political and religious groups.