This project entails a study of Indian sacred centers - Buddhist Bodhgaya and Hindu Gaya. Bodhgaya is directly linked to the life-event of the Buddha and hence the birth-place of Buddhism. It is considered as one of earliest (third century BCE) and important Buddhist sites. Gaya, in proximate distance to Bodhgaya, is a Hindu place of pilgrimage, which emerged as the most important sacred place for the performance of funerary rituals in the early centuries CE. Both of these sites have long multi-layered histories, which have been documented in the ancient and medieval texts and material culture.
Through a study of textual, archaeological and art-historical remains, this project will examine the emergence, multi-phase (re-) constructions and reformulations of both these important centers and their intertwined histories. I have extensively surveyed and documented both these sacred centers and their surrounding areas.
As noted, the project is inter-disciplinary in nature since it draws on historical (textual), archaeological and art-historical sources (material remains). Scholars in the discipline of history, historical archaeology and art-history will benefit from this project since it will examine the dialogical relationship between texts and material culture and their impact on the sacred landscape. This will also help students engage with a geographically distant culture in an interactive and meaningful way.
Students have worked with Amar to complete phase I of the Gaya Project, which included digital documentation and geographic alignment of twenty shrines within the city of Gaya. The collection has been utilized for collaborative presentations with research students and classes. The collection has also been useful for students doining independent research projects for Amar's courses. The field processes and methods for digital collection development has been used by students in the India abroad program, NYSICCSI since Fall 2013. Amar is currently advising two students in this program which include students from Hobart William Smith College and St. Lawrence University. Hamilton College’s Educational Technology Services Department and DHi developed a Google based collaboration site for the study abroad data collection, which continues to be utilized for the program.