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Sitamarhi, India's Gothic first?

Published May 20, 2022
Updated Oct 27, 2022

📍 🇮🇳 Sitamarhi, India's Gothic first?

Sitamarhi caves, the first pointed vault in India, dated 3rd century BCE thanks to its gleaming polish. But might this also be the first pointed vault in the world? The same vaults that enabled Europe to build elevated cathedrals one millennium later, as of the 12th century?

Charming theory. Yet always difficult to assess East-West architectural transfers or imitations, as written archives are often scarce before modern times. One cannot help but considering this would be particularly ironic if that transfer did happen, as it is commonly assumed nowadays that England's Durham Cathedral introduced pointed vaults to the world in the year 1100 CE, thirteen centuries after Sitamari...

The first chapter of the essay "Indian Summer" by English historian Alex von Tunzelmann comes to mind to catch that drift:

"In the beginning, there were two nations. One was a vast, mighty and magnificent empire, brilliantly organized and culturally unified, which dominated a massive swathe of the earth. The other was an undeveloped, semi-feudal realm, riven by religious factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate, diseased and stinking masses. The first nation was India. The second was England".

____ Sources ____

>> Alex von Tunzelmann, “Indian Summer”, 2007
>> Pic courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

3th BCE