Gandhāra in the news: rediscovering Gandhāra in The Times and other media
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Although I have had the pleasure to work alongside colleagues at the British Museum whose research has focused on Gandhāra, my own research has been more peripheral: for example, on East Asia and collection history. For the ‘Rediscovery and Reception of Gandhāran Art’ workshop, I suggested looking at Gandhāra through The Times newspaper, to see how it appeared to an English-language, primarily British, readership, over time. It was also an experiment to see how the process of research has changed. An earlier project in 1998 looking at Sir Aurel Stein in The Times, which resulted in a list of about 100 references (Wang 1999) and the book Sir Aurel Stein in The Times (Wang 2004), necessitated visiting The Guildhall Library, London, in person: to consult the printed reference works on The Times, check the indexes, order the relevant microfilms, and wait for them to be fetched, hoping that the electric reader might be free as the other two readers involved tedious winding by hand, then transcribing in pencil on paper, or putting coins in the coin-slots to pay for print-outs, and going back to a desktop computer to type them up and research the contents. By contrast, the research for this paper was done entirely online, mostly at home, as necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The practicalities of this kind of research have certainly made the process more convenient, and more interesting, the laboriousness relieved by the temptation to look everything up. My aim in this project was simple: to follow ‘Gandhāra’ in The Times newspaper, and see where it led. At the outset, my hunch was that ‘Gandhāra’ was not a well-known term, and I expected to find some references to the art market.