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  • Channabasappa Soodayya Patil 1951–2001
  • Carla M. Sinopoli and Kathleen D. Morrison

Dr. Channabasappa Soodayya (C. S.) Patil, Deputy Director of the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Karnataka, India, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack in October 2001. Dr. Patil was a gifted scholar of epigraphy, architectural history, and archaeology who, in 20 books and more than 100 articles, made important contributions to our understandings of the South Indian past.

Dr. Patil received his Ph.D. from Karnatak University in Dharwad in 1990. Among his many additional academic degrees were a Diploma in Epigraphy from Karnatak University, a Diploma in Archaeology from the Archaeological Survey of India, and a degree in Sanskrit from KSEE Board in Bangalore. He also undertook training in conservation and chemical preservation and held a number of international fellowships, including the Charles Wallace India Trust Visiting Fellowship, University of Edinburgh. He was hired by the Karnataka Directorate of Archaeology and Museums as an assistant curator in 1977, and rose through the ranks to become deputy director in 1994.

C. S. Patil was a passionate scholar and a tireless researcher of the history and prehistory of Karnataka. He was an avid fieldworker, and even as his administrative duties became more onerous, he continued to energetically document archaeological sites spanning from later prehistory to the seventeenth century A.D. This often meant taking all-night bus trips from his office in Mysore to spend two or three days in non-stop fieldwork, followed by a return overnight trip so that he could be in his office early the next morning. From 1979–1984, Dr. Patil supervised the Karnataka Department's excavations at Vijayanagara, while also conducting his doctoral research on early medieval temples of Raichur and Bellary District, producing a volume that still stands as the authoritative work on the subject. In 1984–1985 he was selected as a member of a Government of India team to participate in excavations at Madinat Hamad in Bahrain. Dr. Patil had long-standing interests in the forts of southern India and documented more than 70 such sites throughout the state. In the 1990s, he began a collaborative project with R. Barry Lewis,1 of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he was a research associate who focused on Chitradurga Fort and its environs. Dr. Patil [End Page 185] also conducted research at several Megalithic and Early Historic sites. Among his proudest accomplishments in the field was his discovery of an Ashokan edict at Udegolam, Karnataka.2

Dr. Patil balanced his love of fieldwork with an interest in epigraphy. Working with his wife, Vinoda Patil, he had embarked on a planned fifteen-volume publication series of the Inscriptions of Karnataka. These volumes sought to compile all reported and recently discovered inscriptions (many discovered by Dr. Patil himself) from the fifteen northern districts of Karnataka State. The first four of those volumes (in English) were published before his death, with the first two also published in Kannada. Among his many research interests, Dr. Patil had been systematically studying the narrative sculptures of southern India, particularly those depicting Panchatantra stories. He documented more than 100 narrative sculptures from throughout the state and presented his findings in three books and at invited lectures and conferences in London, Edinburgh, the Netherlands, and the U.S.

From the late 1970s until his death, C. S. Patil worked with many international collaborators from the United States, Europe, and Bahrain. His early involvement with the Vijayanagara Research Project, directed by Drs. John M. Fritz, George Michell, and M. S. Nagaraja Rao, was both formative in his career and created personal and professional bonds that endured throughout his life. Other international collaborators included R. Barry Lewis, James Shaffer (Case Western Reserve University), Kathleen D. Morrison and Mark T. Lycett (University of Chicago), Anna L. Dallapiccola (Edinburgh), Philip B. Wagoner (Wesleyan), and Carla M. Sinopoli (University of Michigan), among others. Although Dr. Patil did not have a teaching position, he worked closely with several graduate students from India and abroad. To all, he was an unending source of support, friendship, knowledge, and enthusiasm. He will be deeply missed.

Publications Books

1991 Vijayanagara: Progress of Research...