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Arun Kumar Biswas

Nationality: Indian

Gender: male

Date Of Brith: 06/07/1934

Present Position: Emeritus AICTE Fellow, Jadavpur University

Academic & Professional Qualifications:

Master S.M. in Metallurgy MIT, USA 1962
Ph.D Surface Active Agents from Fats  Calcutta University 1959


Position(s) Held:

1 Professor, IIT, Kanpur 1963 1995
2 Professor, The Asiatic Society, Kolkata 1995 2002
3 Emeritus AICTE Fellow, Jadavpur University 2002 Till date


Membership(s) of Societies/Association:

Founder Member, Indian Institute of Mineral Engineers.

About the Author

Arun Kumar Biswas, holding Calcutta University’s M.Sc. Tech. and D. Phil. (Applied Chemistry), besides an M.S. (Metallurgy) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, has, over the years, concentrated his research effort around ‘archaeo-metallurgy’ and ‘history of science’, notwithstanding his professional specialization in applied chemistry, surface chemistry, mineral engineering and hydrometallurgy. For over three decades: 1963-95, he has taught at the prestigious IIT (Indian Institute of Technology), Kanpur.
A scholar with varied pursuits: ranging from the history of religions to sacred and secular literatures, Professor Biswas has authored a number of papers and books - which eminently include his Science in India (1969). Also, he has edited the internationally acclaimed, multi-authored Profiles in Indian Languages and Literatures. Currently associated with the Asiatic Society, Calcutta - for further research, Prof. Biswas has had the distinction to be on the National Commission for History of Science, Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi.

Details of Books/Monographs

1 Science in India Firma KLM 1985
2 Profiles in Indian Languages and Litt. IIT, Kanpur 1985
3 Swami Vivekananda and the Indian Quest for Socialism Firma KLM 1986
4 A Pilgrimage to Khetri and the Sarasvati Valley Sujan Publications 1987
5 Buddha and Bodhisattva - A Hindu View Cosmo Publications 1987
6 Frontiers in Applied Chemistry Narosa Publishers 1989
7 Swami Vijnananda and His Paramahamsa Carita Sujan Publications 1994
8 Sarasvati Saradar Anudhyane Ananda Publishers 1994
9 Gleanings of the Past and Science Movement in the Diaries of Drs, Mahendralal and Amritalal Sircar The Asiatic Society 2000
10 History, Science and Society in the Indian Context The Asiatic Society 2001
11 Father Lafont of St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata and the Contemporary Science Movement The Asiatic Society 2001
12 Sri Ramakrishna Janmotsav O Avatarpujar Adiparva Firma KLM 2002
13 Collected Works of Mahendralal, Lafont and the Science Movement The Asiatic Society 2003


Details of Articles

1. The Primacy of India in Ancient Brass and Zinc Metallurgy, Indian Journal of History of Science, 28(4), 1993.
2. Reverend Father Eugene Lafont and the Scientific Activity of St. Xavier’s College, Indian Journal of History of Science, 29(1), 1994.
3. Vaidurya, Marakata and Other Beryl Family Gen Minerals: Etymology and Traditions in Ancient India, Indian Journal of History of Science, 29(2), 1994.
4. Gem Minerals in Pre-Modern India, Ibid 29(3), 1994.
5. Non-Gem Minerals in Pre-Modern India, Ibid, 29(3), 1994.
6. Iron and Steel in Pre-Modern India, Ibid, 29(4), 1994.
7. Vaidurya Marakata Katha (in Bengali), Desh, 64, No. 5, 1997.
8. Kicchu Prasna Mane Elo, A few Questions Came to Mind, S&T in Indian History, Bangiya Vijnan Parishad, Dec. 1997.
9. Gems and Mimerals, Chapter 3.6 in History of Technology in India, Vol. I, INSA, 1997, pp. 225-255.
10. Social Factors in the Development of Technology, Chapter 10 in History of Technology in India, Vol. I, INSA, 1997.
11. Science, Spirituality and Socialism: A Tribute to Joseph Needham in Life and Works of Joseph Needham, The Asiatic Society, Calcutta, 1997.
12. Characterization of Synthesized Wolframite Minerals and their Leach Residues, Hydrometallurgy, 44, 1997.
13. Dr. Mahendralal Sircar - The Man and His Vision, Indian Journal of Physics and Proceedings of the IACS, November 1997.
14. The Pre-IACS Period (1873-1875), Journal of the Asiatic Society, Vol. 39, No. 3-4, 1997.
15. The Dawn of IACS (1876-1883), Ibid.
16. A Decade of IACS abd Anritalal’s Diaries (1884-1894), Ibid, Vol. 40, No. 1-2, 1998.
17. Social Factors in the Promotion of S&t: A Historical Approach, Journal of the Asiatic Society, Vol. 40, No. 3-4, 1998.
18. Role of Characterisation in Minerals Separation by Froth Flotation, in Froth Flotation: Recent Trends, Indian Institute of Mineral Engineers, Jamshedpur, 1998.
19. Archaeo-Materials in India: Some Residual Problems and Future Prospects, in Archaeometallurgy in India, Sharada Publishing House, 1998.
20. A Literary Perspective on Archaeomaterials and Scientific Concepts in Ancient India, Ibid.
21. James Prinsep’s Scientific Contribution and an Era (1820-1840) of Cross-Cultural Knowledge transfer, James Prinsep Bicentennary Volume.
22. Mahendralal and the Ramakrishna Movement - A Dialogue between Science and Religion, Journal of the Asiatic Society, Vol. 41, No. 1, 1999.
23. The Diaries of Dr. Mahendralal Sircar (1896-1899) and the Dawn of Nationalist Science in India, Ibid, Vol. 41, No. 2, 1999.
24. The Finale of the Sircar-Lafont Era (1900-1908) and the Sunrise of the Nationalist Science in India, Ibid, Vol. 41, No. 3, 1999.
25. Science and technology in India during the Mauryan Era, Indian Museum Bulletin, Special Issue, Vol. XXXIV, 1999.
26. Study of the Roasting of Chalcopyrite Minerals by 57Fe Mossbauer Spectroscopy, Minerals Engineering, Vol. 13, No. 8-9, 2000.
27. Minerals and Metals in Medieval India in History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization, Vol. III Part I.
28. History of Science Movement in India in Science and Tradition, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, 2000.
29. History of Technology in Ancient and Medieval India in Students’ Encyclopedia Britannica (South Asian Project) 7 volumes, 2000.
30. Moneralogy and Metallurgy in Ancient and Medieval India, in Encyclopedia Italiana, Vol. III, 2000.
31. Minerals and their Exploitation in Ancient and Pre-Modern India, in Metallurgy in India - A Retrospective, Golden Jubilee Special Volume, India International Publisher, 2001.
32. Science, Spirituality and Samya - The Tripod of Consciousness Research in Thoughts on Synthesis of Science and Religion, The Bhaktrevedanta Institute, Calcutta, 2001.
33. Science Consciousness in the Literature of Kalidasa (in Bengali) Gyan O Bigyan, May 2002.
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Minerals and Metals in Ancient India (2 Vols. Set)

In two volumes, the book tells the fascinating, coherentlywoven story of the Minerals and Metals -- from across the entire sub-continental sprawl of the old-world India (including Pakistan and Bangladesh).

Covering a vast span of over five millennia: from the Pre-Harappan Chalcolithic sites, like Mehargarh, Mundigak and Ganeshwar to about ad 1200, Volume 1 is a brilliant effort to unravel the mysteries of 'archaeo-materials' -- with scientific inquiry into both the modes of production and use of minerals, gems, metals, alloys and other kindred artefacts. Including, as he does, a chronological discussion of the 'specifically excavated' sites, from Mehargarh to Taxila, Professor Arun Biswas captures a panoramic view of the hoary, richly variegated cultures -- which, in their final analysis, lead him not only to question the diffusionist theory concerning the 'Aryan intrusion', but also to highlight, among a range of his first-time-arrived conclusions, the primacy of India in the areas of non-ferrous ore mining, production of carburised iron, wootz, steel, forge-welding of wrought iron, distilled zinc and high-zinc brass. Barring the foreign travellers' accounts, the volume draws exclusively on archaeological evidence.

Volume 2 approaches the theme from the viewpoint of indigenous literary sources -- chronologically marshalling over three thousand years of Sanskrit writings: ranging from Rigveda to Rasaratnasamuccaya. Reviewing, among other things, the entire gamut of studies in gemmology (ratnashastra) and alchemy (rasashastra), the authors here set out a meticulous analysis of Rasaratnasamuccaya: a fourteenth century text, high-lighting the climactic heights of iatrochemistry in ancient India. With detailed explanations of Sanskrit technical expressions, the volume also tries to correlate, wherever possible, literary evidence with archaeological data.

Sponsored by the Indian National Science Academy (INSA), New Delhi, Minerals and Metals in Ancient India has involved years of the authors' painstaking research. Together with maps, figures, tables, appendices and illustrative photographs, it will evoke enormous interest in geologists, metallurgists, archaeo-metallurgists, mineralogists, gemmologists, historians of science, archaeologists, Indologists, and the scholars of Indian pre- and ancient history.

Vol. 1: Archaeological Evidence; ISBN: 812460049X

1996, xxix, 524 p.; 75 Coloured and B/w illustrations; Tables; Figures; Maps; Appendices; Bibliography; Indices; 29 cm.


Vol. 2: Literary Evidence; ISBN: 8124600503

1996, xvii, 260 p.; 75 Coloured and B/w illustrations; Tables; Figures; Maps; Appendices; Bibliography; Indices; 29 cm.

Minerals and Metals in Pre-Modern India

A Sequel to his widely acclaimed Minerals and Metals in Ancient India, in two volumes, (1996), Professor Biswas here continues with the fascinating story of indigenous gems, non-gem minerals, metals and metallic art : from 1200 ad onwards to almost the threshold of modern times. Like its predecessor, this volume too is sponsored by the Indian National Science Academy (INSA), New Delhi.

Beginning with a view of medieval India's enchanting gems, its highly dexterous diamond mining, and an array of non-gem minerals including, among others, metallic ores of copper, lead, zinc, ferrocobaltite, aluminium, and even building stones, the book offers a focussed study of iron and steel, brass and zinc in pre-modern India -- with coherent descriptions of the diversities of ores processed, smelting techniques, wootz-making and other products in different parts of the subcontinent.

A painstakingly researched work based on foreigners' travelouges and many other sources, the book re-explores the achievements of indigenous industries of the day, highlighting how, for about two millennia since the Lothal and Atranjikhera eras, India commanded primacy in zinc and brass; how its zinc smelting and distillation technology were transferred to the West, like the Chinese technologies of paper and gunpowder; and how its artisans could work marvels in metal. The author examines, in retrospect, Indian traditions of metallic works, which are vividly exemplified in its arts of enamelling, encrustation, jewel-setting, brass and high zinc Bidriware, and much else.

Concludingly, Professor Biswas also goes into the causes that spelt decline of the Indian industries and the superb vitality of its artisans' tradition.

Science in Archaeology and Archaeo-Materials

Archaeology seeks to reconstruct the past by critically analysing various archaeo-remains such as artefacts, monuments, fossils etc. While much of what archaeology teaches, such as the postulates regarding the origin of the universe, social organisation in pre-historic times, the division of time periods etc., rightfully belong to the domain of conjecture, the ever-increasing use of tools derived from the various sciences -- in particular the material and digital sciences -- is rapidly justifying the description of archaeology as "the most basic of sciences."

This book, in which twenty-six authors have collaborated to present fifteen articles, seeks to level a new focus on archaeology and underscore the importance of using scientific knowledge and methods in its pursuit. This book can be broadly segmented as the section on "Science in Archaeological Studies" and "Science in Archaeo-material Studies."

To that end, the very first leading article in this monograph reviews the "two cultures" inherent in archaeology and strongly endorses the scientific aspect. The recent contributions of modern science towards archaeological research have been reviewed in this article and strongly recommended to the young learners and researchers for emulation. Thereafter, methods as diverse as radio-carbon dating; remote sensing in archaeological surveys aided by micro-electronics; genetic perspective of the Indian population; analysis of archaeological residues and slag, Indian pottery and archaeo-metals; use of non-destructive testing methodo-logies etc., are discussed in detail. These articles will serve as pointers for future generations of archaeologists in their quest for more exhaustive and verifiable knowledge.