Maj-Gen Sir Alexander Cunningham (Biographical details)

Maj-Gen Sir Alexander Cunningham (archaeologist; military/naval; academic/intellectual; scientist/engineer; British; Male; 1814 - 1894)

Also known as

Cunningham, Alexander


Archaeologist, numismatist, engineer. He went to India in 1833 as an officer of the Bengal Engineers Regiment (1831-61); after retiring from the army, he became the first Archaeological Surveyor for the Government of India (1861-65); later Director General of the newly created Archaeological Survey of India (1871-85). During this time he produced the first extensive archaeological survey of India, exploring up to 30 sites a season. His work on coins provided a chronological framework for Indian numismatics. He was awarded the C.S.I. (1871); C.I.E. (1878); K.C.I.E. (1887). He sold 118 coins to the Museum in 1857 for £83. In 1888, 1893 and 1894, the British Museum purchased a large part of the Cunningham collection of Bactrian and Indian coins. The Museum also received his collection of sculpture and other antiquities (1887). His grave is in the Kensal Green Cemetery, London.


John Allan, 'Guide to the Department of Coins and Medals', British Museum, London 1934.
Obituary in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1894, Jan, pp. 166-77.