Review: Archaeometallurgy in India. Tripathi Vibha (Ed.). 1998. New Delhi: Sharada Publishing House. Pp. 387. Price Rs. 1300/-. by D.P.

Agrawal & Lalit Tiwari
Vibha Tripathi has done a great service by organizing this seminar on metallurgy and bringing out this very informative volume of proceedings covering so many different dimensions of archaeometallurgical studies in India. This is a very valuable volume as a source book on Indian archaeometallurgy - a subject not much popular among archaeologists! India has a very old iron technology tradition, as indicated by the 6 ton rust-free Delhi Iron Pillar of 4th-5th century A.D., beams of Konark temple (10th century A.D.) and the famous Dhar pillar of 10th -11th centuries A.D. All these are proof that the Indian ancient alchemy and metallurgical science are rich and vast. The detailed description of metallurgical processes and intricate properties of minerals and chemicals in the 10th -11th century alchemy-text, the Rasaratna Samuchchaya is yet another proof of the high level of knowledge of metallurgy. Metals had a very close relationship with human civilization and the levels attributed to different stages of cultural growth are dominated by the metals being used at a particular period, viz. the Copper-Bronze Age or Iron Age etc. Metallurgy in the Indian subcontinent dates back to circa 6000B.C. as indicated by the occurrence of a few copper objects, from the early phases of Mehrgarh (Pakistan). The main theme of this book is the ancient Indian metallurgical traditions and techniques. This volume is edited Vibha Tripathi, a Professor at the Department of Ancient History, Culture and Archaeology at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. She organized a National Seminar on Indian Archaeometallurgy in 1991 at Banaras Hindu University. The present volume is an valuable outcome of the deliberations of that seminar, even though it took seven years to publish it! The volume contains 37 articles by well-known scholars in the field of the History of Technology and Archaeology. A total of 68 scholars have contributed to this volume. The volume is divided into four sections: Mining and Metallurgy, Ethno-Archaeological Evidence on Archaeometallurgy, Literary Evidence on Archaeometallurgy, and the last section is devoted to Socio-Economic Implications of Metals. Section I: - Mining and Metallurgy. This is a very lengthy section containing 20 articles by various authors. Arun Kumar Biswas writes the first article of this book that discusses some issues related to Indian archaeomaterials, trace element correlation, etc. Second article of this book is " The Metallurgical Tradition of the Harappans" written by D. P. Agrawal and Rajam Seshadri. In this article they explain that the Harappans made prolific use of

a site in district Rohtas. .C. P. Chattopadhyay describe the transition from Neolithic to Copper Age at Kushadwip. A detailed discussion of Indian iron and steel technology in archaeology is presented by Syed Jafar Mahmud. is an important archaeological site. 11th /12th Century B. which has a continuous history since 1000 B.a Brief Review.D. and in China it is not earlier then 16th century A. In the first article they describe the metallographic study of copper antiquities of Manjhi site. P.P and metallurgical study of ancient swords. The regular zinc production in India started approximately around 12th century A. Freestone." There is confusion about early occurrence of zinc. He describes the ancient iron mines. They also discuss the culture context of the different periods in the first paper. K. were found at the excavations of Rajghat site. "Studies and Archaeometallurgical Significance of some Gold. P. Agrawal present two different articles in this volume. Duari and Pranab H. Prakash describe the historical development of iron technology in the Morar valley. etc from Sringverpura site of Uttar Pradesh. Tiwari deal with the archaeometallurgical study of Rajghat site in their article entitled. silver and copper coins belonging to 400 B. Pranab Kumar Chattopadhyay and Birendra Pratap Singh discuss the metallographic and chemical analyses of copper artefacts of this site. C. weapons. Hari Narayan. It also describes the Neolithic Chalcolithic copper objects. Jay Prakash.C. district Saran. V. M. In the second article they deal with the metallographic study of iron artefacts of domestic use like tools. Ashok Datta deals with the beginning of ancient iron technology in west Bengal region in the Chalcolithic phase. mining technology and smelting processes with the help of archaeological data. C. Silver and Copper Coins from Rajghat (Varanasi) Excavations . N. Sudhir. 12% with arsenic and 80% with lead. Somnath Misra and T.D. Rajghat site is located within the Varanasi area and Varanasi is one of the most important ancient living cities of the world. V. Hegde. R. L. silver and zinc industry of Rajasthan area. M. Lynn Willies. T. Pande and B. Gurjar and K. I. Paliwal. Tradition associates Sringverpura site with Rama who crossed the Ganga here after banishment from Ayodhya.T. In the next article. in the next article of this section. Bihar. District Bankura. Swarna Kamal Bhowmik gives evidence in his article that the metal craftsmen of ancient Gujarat knew the method of extraction of metallic zinc from zinc ore. They also emphasise that they analysed more then 200 Harappans artifacts of which only 23% were alloyed with tin. respectively. Nair and O. copper.M. Bihar. Craddock.D. West Bengal with the help of chemical and metallographic analysis. located south of Sasaram on the right bank of the river Kundra. A number of gold. to 900A. and lead in addition to the alloys of these base metals but the Pre and Early Harappan contexts are generally poor in copper. deal with ancient lead. He states that the beginning of iron technology in west Bengal may safely be placed c. silver.C. Senuwar.

R. Maula Ali. Dasgupta and Bhupendra Pal Singh in the next two articles report on the issue of metal working in medieval Assam and appearance of iron in the archaeological context in eastern India with especial reference to ethnological data. to examine whether there is any correlation between ancient archaeological settlement patterns and the probable resource areas exploited by humans. . He also focuses on the traditional iron smithy of Orissa with the help of ethnological and archaeological evidence. Rangesh discuss the iatro-metallurgical practices of ancient Indians in the next article of this section. D. The next three articles are written by R. Next article is "Probable Sources of Silver in Ancient India: A Historico-Scientific Approach" by Bhagirathi Prashad and Nisar Ahmad.The next article by K. in their articles. in her paper entitled. N. respectively. Aeron. R. Srivastava who give an historical review of ancient mining. I. In her interesting article. Section II: . D. "Evaluation of Earlier Iron making Processes and their Relevance in Indian Context". These writers try to recapitulate the evolution and development of earlier iron making processes throughout the world in general and the special status. Agrawal. Amit Tripathi and Vibha Tripathi in the next paper focus on the location and nature of iron ore deposits and associated rocks. The relevance of these earlier iron making techniques to modern India has also been discussed. R. G. which is claimed to be as much as 75% pure. K. and possesses a very high grade of iron ore. Vibha Tripathi deals with the ancient iron technology with the help of archaeological and ethnological evidence. Coimbatore. ecology and archaeology of the Seruwila copper-magnetite deposit in North East Sri Lanka and bronze tools and technology in protohistoric Afghanistan. K. Nagesh Rao and P. Prasad. Leshnik reports that in India tin bronze vessels of 22-30% tin have been found in the Iron Age megalithic burials of Tamil Nadu of the first millennium BC from Adichanallur. K. M. B. S. They discuss the history of silver with the help of some literary evidence. K. The next paper is written by B. Chauhan. C. Sharada Srivasan discusses modern bronze works. and also the Nilgiris. Srinivasan discusses a very relevant question of how can we revive the traditional rural iron making of Orissa in his paper. K. Chaudhuri and S.Ethno-Archaeological Evidence on Archaeometallurgy This section contains 10 articles. "High Tin Bronze Working in India: The Bowl Makers of Kerala". P. Sudharashan Seneviratne and V. which India achieved in this field. N. Madhya Pradesh is considerably rich in minerals. Bajpai summarises the ancient iron metallurgy of this region in his article. P. Singh. Rao is very interesting as it describes the uses of metals in Indian traditional medicine systems like Ayurveda and Sidha systems.

Kamanagama. 1000 to 500 BC)" and "Newly Discovered Anthropomorphic Figures from Nupur. This paper is based on the material contained in the three original early texts of Buddhist (Tripitaka) Sutta. Jatarupa. D. and not iron. etc. Madhucchista Vidhana. UP" are the next two articles of this section presented by J. In his article P.K. The writers claim that this paper deals with their own observations on correlation of the literary evidence with archaeological data and other historical facts and scientific concepts and attitudes in ancient India related to archaeomaterials and material science. This section contains only one article by Vijay Kumar Thakur entitled. First article of this section is "A Literary Perspective on Archaeomaterials and Scientific Concepts in Ancient India" by Sulekha Biswas and A.Literary Evidences on Archaeometallurgy The third section of this edited book contains only seven articles by well-known authors with archeological background. metallic objects of art and metal technology with special reference to literary data from Ramayana. Section IV: . R. Biswas. Agrawala deals with the Indian archaeometallurgy with special reference to earlier Indian literature. It is also the last article of this edited book. It is well known that the National Museum of India. respectively. 200 BC India". Swarna Kamal Bhowmik and Mudrika Jani summarize the evidence of metals. S. "Social Implications of Technology: a Study of Iron in pre-c. Sharma. But in this article after a comparative study of literature and archaeological evidence. The next paper is "Iron in Early Buddhist Texts" written by Priya Srivastava and Vibha Tripathii. Pathak and Prem Sagar Chaturvedi is entitled. K."Metal Implements of Northern India (c. etc. It is well known that the world ayas occurs at a number of places in the Rigveda. . N. New Delhi has 191 Copper Hoard implements from several locations in the lower middle Ganga Yamuna Doab of UP. and from Mehsana in Gujarat. "Antecedent Stage in the Evolution of Metal Technology". Sharma discusses 37 shouldered axes and 2 lugged shouldered axes from the middle Doab. Silpasastra. now placed in the National Museum of India. Charak Samhita. D. Vinay and Abhidhammapitaka. In his article B. the writer concludes that ayas. P. was actually copper. It is an interesting though lengthy article covering more than 25 pages of this book."Socio-Economics Implications of Metals". Upadhyaya and Madhuri Sharma. Mahabharata. Mani explores metals and minting techniques for coin making in ancient India with the help of some literary evidence from sources like Atharvaveda. "Ayas in the Rigveda-a note" is the next article of this book written by D. Tripathi. its exact nature is doubtful. P. In his next article. Next article written by V. P. Though its definitely a metal. Section III: .

. At the end. which can be described only as mediocre. we would like to strongly recommend that the volume is a must for all students of not only archaeology but also of History of Science and Technology in India. One always wishes that the quality of articles should be of high grade but in such volumes. there are some. pictures and diagrams. its almost impossible to maintain uniformly high quality. While there are excellent papers.The volume has good quality maps. tables.