From Library Journal
In 1994, the British Library received a collection of 29 birch bark scrolls from Gandhara, an area in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Written in Kharosthi script, the scrolls are believed to be the oldest Buddhist manuscripts as well as the oldest Indian manuscripts known to exist, estimated at nearly 2000 years old. Salomon (Asian languages and literature, Univ. of Washington), head of a team of scholars from the University of Washington and the British Library, has written this first volume in a projected series on the scrolls as an overview of their general importance. The introduction warns that some of the material may be too technical or esoteric for the lay reader and thoughtfully points out which chapters are more accessible. A great deal of information is carefully presented, ranging from how the manuscripts were preserved through their general place in early Gandharan and Buddhist culture and what they may reveal. For collections in museum studies, archaeology, and ancient languages and linguistics, this is an important source. For Buddhist studies collections, it is indispensable.AMark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll., NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A rare example of a book that appeals equally to the specialist... as well as to the general reader interested in archaeology or in Buddhist thought and practice.
Professor Salomon has brilliantly illuminated the path to a more historically nuanced approach to the study of Buddhist manuscripts.... This volume will serve as a benchmark of clarity, readability, and scholarly precision for anyone attempting to work in similar materials in the future.
The remarkable success of the rescue and conservation by British Library staff, and of the decipherment and reconstruction by the team in Seattle, hold a promise of yet more revolutionary insights into the construction and meaning of the early Buddhist texts.
(Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies