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Ahmed, Shamsuddin1


Ahmed, Shamsuddin1 (1889-1987) an archaeologist and numismatist, was born in 1889 in Dewanpara under Murshidabad district. The fourth amongst nine children of Md Golamuddin Sarkar Dewan, Shamsuddin Ahmed passed the junior and senior Madrasah examinations with credit from Rajshahi Government Madrasah in 1905 and 1909 respectively. Subsequently, he passed the Matriculation and Intermediate examinations in 1911 and 1914. While serving as a teacher at the Burdwan Municipal School he passed the BA examination (1922) and the MA examination (1925) in Arabic as a private candidate.

In 1927 Shamsuddin Ahmed joined the central government services as an Assistant Curator of the indian museum, Calcutta. This offered him an opportunity to study Muslim epigraphy and numismatics in a museum, which had a rich collection of Arabic and Persian manuscripts and coins. On his promotion as Assistant Superintendent, he successively served at New Delhi, Bareilly, and Hydrabad (Deccan). At Hydrabad he had to undergo vigorous training in epigraphy and numismatics for two years under the guidance of Dr Ghulam Yazdani. He was promoted to the post of Superintendent of Archaeology of the Eastern Circle, Calcutta in 1946.

Ahmed opted for Pakistan in 1947 and settled in Rajshahi where he organised the new circle office. In 1948, he became the Director of Archaeology at Karachi and retired from this position in 1954. On his retirement, he established the Rajshahi City Night College in 1955-56 and remained its honorary (founder) Principal for five years. In 1960 he joined the university of rajshahi as an Honorary Treasurer and continued to serve the institution in that capacity for 11 years. Due to failing health he relinquished this responsibility in 1971.

Shamsuddin Ahmed is remembered for his enormous contribution to Bengal epigraphy and numismatics. He compiled two volumes of the Supplementary Catalogue of Coins in the Indian Museum, Calcutta (vol. I: Sultans of Delhi; vol. II: Sultans of Bengal) and was awarded a medal by the All India Numismatic Society for contributing a series of articles on epigraphy and numismatics in the Epigraphia Indo-Moslemica. He published over 50 articles in this journal between 1929 and 1941.

Shamsuddin's reputation as an exceptional epigraphist, however, rests on his work, The Inscriptions of Bengal, vol. IV, which was published by the varendra research museum in 1960. He deciphered and edited all available epigraphic records of the Muslim rulers of Bengal. He visited Turkey and Iran as a government delegate on a cultural programme in 1966. For his work, the varendra research society awarded him a medal and a sanad. In recognition of his scholarship the Islamic Foundation, Dhaka awarded him the Islamic Foundation Prize and a sanad (for the Hijri era 1405) on 27 November 1980. Shamsuddin Ahmed died on 7 June 1987. [Nazimuddin Ahmed]