• julia.shaw@ucl.ac.uk
  • Direct: +44 (0)20 7679 4753
  • Internal: 24753
  • Room 407A
  • UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY UK

Julia Shaw

Research Interests

  • The archaeology of early-historic South Asia
  • Early Indian religions
  • Urbanisation and state formation
  • Water management and irrigation
  • Theories of religious, social and economic change
  • Archaeology of sacred places and pilgrimage
  • Archaeology of natural places
  • Archaeologies of well-being
  • Archaeology and environmental ethics
  • Sectarianism, politics and archaeology
  • Theory and method of landscape and survey archaeology
  • Geographical Information Systems
  • Satellite remote-sensing

Research Directory Records

Current research projects

  • The Sanchi Survey Project:Multi-phase survey project around Sanchi, a major Buddhist hilltop complex in Madhya Pradesh. A recently declared UNESCO World Heritage site, it is one of India's best preserved and most studied Buddhist sites with a continuous constructional sequence from c. 3rd century BCE to 12th century CE. The project, initiated in 1998, has sought to relate Sanchi to other aspects of the archaeological landscape including settlements (particularly the ancient city of Vidisha), ritual centres, rock-shelters, and aspects of land-use and water-management. The principal research question is ‘how did the spread of Buddhism from its cradle in the Gangetic valley relate to other key processes such as urbanisation, state-formation and innovations in agriculture during the late centuries BCE’?  The initial phase of exploration over an area of approximately 750 sq km, took place between 1998-2001, resulting in the systematic recording of about 35 Buddhist sites, 145 settlements, 17 irrigation works and numerous sculpture fragments. In subsequent years, the survey has been developed in several ways including the application of intensive site-mapping, satellite remote-sensing, and the collection of dam and reservoir sediments for geological dating and palaeo-ecological analysis. The project is endorsed by the British Association for South Asian Studies.
  • The Sanchi Dams Project: Focuses on a group of ancient irrigation works in central India, documented between 1998 and 2001 during the Sanchi Survey Project described above. Using a range of methods including satellite remote-sensing, geological dating of buried dam and reservoir deposits, the study of surface remains, local present-day hydrology, and ancient pollen sequences, the project has been aimed at building a model for understanding dam chronology and function, associated crop usage, and the relationship between innovations in irrigation technology and the history of Buddhism, urbanisation and state-formation in central India.

Current collaborations

 Previous posts and educational background

  • 2002-5. British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Archaeology, Oxford ; Junior Research Fellow, Merton College, Oxford University.
  • 2002. Visiting Research Fellow and Lecturer, Archaeology Center and Center of Buddhist Studies, Stanford University, California.
  • 1998-2001. PhD in Archaeology, University of Cambridge. Thesis title: The Sacred Geography of Sanchi hill: the archaeological setting of Buddhist monasteries in Central India .
  • 1996-7. Mphil in World Archaeology, University of Cambridge. Dissertation title: India’s Sacred Landscape: the elements of archaeological continuity, ritual contestation, and the invention of antiquity at Ayodhya, north India.
  • 1990-1993. BA in Hindi and Religious Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Dissertation title: The Tree and the Axial pillar in Indian Mythology, Art, and Architecture.

Second Supervisor

  • Raminder Kaur Cultural and environmental variation in Neolithic of South Asia: A comparative perspective on the archaeobotany of the Southern Neolithic (principal supervisor Dorian Fuller)
  • Ellie Kingwell Banham Early rice agricultural systems in India (principal supervisor Dorian Fuller)

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