British Assessments of Tipu Sultan's Hill Forts in Northern Mysore, South India, 1802
International Journal of Historical Archaeology 16:164-198
Hundreds of early modern forts dot the South Indian landscape, but more is known about their art-historical aspects than how these fortifications were built, maintained, and used. The latter aspects are examined in a comparative analysis of six Mysore hill forts, using East India Company surveys that were prepared in 1802 shortly after British forces took command of these installations from Tipu Sultan's garrisons. These highly detailed inventories show that the hill forts were poorly maintained, inadequately supplied, contained relatively few garrison buildings, and, from the British perspective at least, were inadequately armed to mount a successful defense. At the turn of the century, these forts were functionally obsolete, ill prepared to serve as supply depots, and strategically valuable only to quiet local populations and deny the use of such places to potential enemies.