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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Professor Chris Scarre

Scarre, Chris & Roberts, J. (2005). The English cemetery at Surat: pre-colonial cultural encounters in western India. Antiquaries Journal 85: 250-291.

Author(s) from Durham


During the 17th century East India Company merchants settled in several cities of western India under the control of the Mughal Empire. The most important of these was Surat in Gujarat, where an English Cemetery of impressive brick and stucco tombs was established. The style and nature of these monuments gives insight into cultural interactions between the English merchants and the local population, as well as indicating the political aspirations of the East India Company officials. A description of these tombs, the earliest dating to 1649, is followed by a discussion of the origins of the cemetery, the chronology of the tombs, and the identity and status of the dead. It is shown how the adoption of Indo-Islamic architectural styles for the earliest tombs was modified during the 18th century by the increasing use of Western architectural features, in line with growing British political power in India during this period. Changing architectural styles are paralleled by changing attitudes to the tombs by British visitors from the 17th to early 20th centuries.