William Dalrymple

India-based Scottish historian and art historian, curator, broadcaster and critic



The Golden Road: How Ancient India Transformed the World
recently Published
The Golden Road: How Ancient India Transformed the World
About Dalrymple

The historian and co-host of the chart-topping podcast Empire, William Dalrymple, shares the rarely told story of India’s role as a cultural and scientific superpower of the ancient world.

One of Britain’s greatest living historians, William Dalrymple is known across the globe for his ability to bring the extraordinary history of the Indian subcontinent to life, whether through award-winning, bestselling books like Return of a King and The Anarchy, or his chart-topping podcast, Empire.

Now he joins us to tell the story of how, from 250 BC to 1200 AD, India transformed the world: exporting religion, art, science, medicine, and language along a Golden Road that stretched from the Red Sea to the Pacific, creating a vast and profoundly important empire of ideas.

Like ancient Greece, ancient India came up with a set of profound answers to the big questions about what the world is, how it operates, why we are here, and how we should live our lives. Out of India came holy men, monks, and missionaries as well as pioneering merchants and artists, astronomers, healers, and scientists. Indian ideas crossed political borders and influenced everything they touched, from the statues in Roman seaports to the Buddhism of Japan, the poetry of China to the mathematics of Baghdad.

William Dalrymple is focusing on one of the future champions of the world: India. According to Tony Blair, not Europe but India will dominate the future. With 1.2 billion inhabitants and numerous investors, India is poised to make a great leap forward. India has a philosophical and artistic culture deeply rooted in its present society, and this is the theme of Dalrymple’s new book, The Golden Road: How Ancient India Transformed the World.

The Golden Road: How Ancient India Transformed the World

India is the forgotten heart of the ancient world. For a millennium and a half, India was a confident exporter of its diverse civilisation, creating around it a vast empire of ideas. Indian art, religions, technology, astronomy, music, dance, literature, mathematics and mythology blazed a trail across the world, along a Golden Road that stretched from the Red Sea to the Pacific.William Dalrymple draws from a lifetime of scholarship to highlight India's oft-forgotten position as the heart of ancient Eurasia. For the first time, he gives a name to this spread of Indian ideas that transformed the world. From the largest Hindu temple in the world at Angkor Wat to the Buddhism of Japan, from the trade that helped fund the Roman Empire to the creation of the numerals we use today (including zero), India transformed the culture and technology of its ancient world – and our world today as we know it.

'At the forefront of the new wave of popular history' Observer

'A superb historian with a visceral understanding of India' The Times