Major early nineteenth century spatial patterns of the Mysore kingdom are reconstructed from archaeolog- ical field surveys and archival research. Central to the reconstruction is the Mysore Survey geographical infor- mation system (GIS) and database, which is now being developed at the University of Illinois. The Mysore GIS is based on the unpublished topographical maps cons- tructed by Colin Mackenzie between 1799-1808 as part of the Mysore Survey. Drawn at a scale of 2 miles to the inch and covering some 30,000 mi2 (78,000 km2), these extraordinary maps encode details about thousands of cultural features that are otherwise unavailable to archae- ologists and historians working in South India. These features are of considerable analytical interest as spatial representations of local political and economic relation- ships that existed in the early days of British hegemony in the region.
My objective is to describe the preliminary results of a spatial analysis of the Mysore kingdom, the predeces- sor of the modern state of Karnataka, India, as it existed at the end of the Nayaka period 1 in AD 1800. The study is based on archaeological field surveys and archival research on eighteenth and early nineteenth century East India Company (EIC) and Indian records. The key resource of this research is the Mysore Survey2 of Colin Mackenzie, a 200-year old EIC mapping project that enables researchers to construct a virtual archaeological site file of contemporaneous Nayaka period sites, includ- ing towns, villages, roads, tanks, and place names.
The first part of the article briefly describes the geog- raphy and recent history of the study region and basic details of the Mysore Survey. Next, the major adminis- trative divisions of the Mysore kingdom and their archae- ological implications are outlined and illustrated by examples drawn from the results of recent field surveys in the region. Finally, we discuss the interpretive value of early colonial manuscript maps as primary sources of set- tlement location information, the analysis of which can further the understanding of aspects of India’s recent past for which there are few contemporary written documents and available archaeological data.