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date: 13 December 2019

Cunningham, Sir Alexanderlocked

(b London, Jan 23, 1814; d London, Nov 28, 1893).
  • E. Errington

Extract

(b London, Jan 23, 1814; d London, Nov 28, 1893).

British archaeologist, numismatist and engineer. He obtained an Indian cadetship in 1828 through the patronage of Sir Walter Scott and received his commission as Second Lieutenant, Bengal Engineers, in 1831. After training at Addiscombe and Chatham, he was sent to India in 1833. Friendship with James Prinsep encouraged an immediate interest in Indian antiquities and led to his excavation of the Sarnath stupa (1835–6). After three years with the Sappers at Calcutta, Delhi and Benares (Varanasi), he was appointed an aide-de-camp (1836–40) to Lord Auckland. A geographical mission (July–September 1839) to trace the sources of the Punjab rivers in Kashmir provided access to the antiquities of the region. While Executive Engineer to Muhammad ‛Ali Shah, the ruler of Avadh (1840–42), he discovered the Buddhist site of Sankasya (Sankisa).

As a field engineer, he saw action during the Bundelkund rebellion (1842), at Punniar (...

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Dictionary of National Biography, 63 vols and suppls (London, 1885–)