Inscriptions are writings made on hard materials such as rocks, wood, bricks or metals. The writings were common during the early ages and were used for a series of reasons. Samudra Gupta was a leader of the Gupta Empire in ancient India and he is also referred to as the father of inscriptions. Epigraphy is the study of inscriptions. Sir Alexander Cunningham is known to be the father of epigraphy. Epigraphers reconstruct, translate and date inscriptions. After that, historians come in to interpret and determine the events that led to the inscriptions.
Most of the time, the epigraphers happen to be historians as well. Early inscriptions and epigraphy have lots of importance and relevance to the world today. Below are some of the advantages that legends have brought along.
Proper Dating of Events
Once epigraphers come across an inscription, the first thing they do is to date the writings on the rock, cave or metal. The dating gives an approximate time that the writings were engraved. After the legends have been translated, historians can keep records of the events according to time. The inscriptions mostly tell stories of what happened ages ago and are therefore perfect for filling some gaps in history. Without proper dating, historians would not have reliable records.
Early inscriptions could either be formal or informal. The official legends keep records of the kings and how they managed to conquer battles. The official writings also cover what happened in the various kingdoms during that era. Informal inscriptions, on the other hand, give small details such as the names of the kings and queens, their habits, what they preferred to do in their spare time and sometimes their favourite foods. Such details enable historians to form profiles of the people they are dealing with and therefore tell the stories better.
Where inscriptions are made sheds a lot of light on the lifestyle of the people. There are writings found in caves. From this, historians can tell that the people in that era lived in caves. At other times, the records are found on buildings made of bricks. Such information shows that bricks had been invented and people had moved from living in caves. The same goes for inscriptions made on wood or metals. Apart from the information itself, the location of the legends gives a clearer picture of the society.
Ancient Culture and Beliefs
The early inscriptions could be writings or drawings, giving detailed information on the happenings. Significant events, such as religious practices and cultural events, were not left out. Taboos and behaviour that qualified as ideal were also listed. The information left behind helps people understand the lifestyle of the people better in terms of their culture and beliefs. Knowing this, people can decipher the events and also classify if the actions of the ancient kings were commendable or not.
Social and Economic Activities
Apart from the political events that occurred, inscriptions also tell stories about the social and economic activities people indulged themselves in. Things like food grown for commercial purposes and the mediums of exchange of goods and services were also recorded. Social events and what people wore during that time are also important details that are not left out in the inscriptions. Such features are essential while trying to understand what happened ages ago.
Inscriptions are the most accurate and reliable source of information about ancient times. Since the reports were written as events happened, the records become the perfect baseline to put together the happenings of the era. The inscriptions hint on all the major transitions and occurrences in history and therefore rule out the speculation aspect. With accurate information, historians ensure that one uniform story spreads throughout the world. Without this, there would exist many inaccurate stories about the past.
Learning New Languages
Early inscriptions were written in different languages depending on the empire. For epigraphers, this becomes a perfect opportunity for them to learn new words. The deciphering of the inscriptions is essential and has to be done accurately. Therefore, before translating what the legends say, epigraphers have to ensure that their mastery of the language is impeccable. Also, translation is done by a team of epigraphers to ensure they get everything right.