• img-book

    Minerals and Metals ...

SKU: 9788124600481 Categories: ,

Minerals and Metals in Ancient India (2 Vols. Set)

by: Arun Kumar Biswas , Sulekha Biswas

This book tells the story of minerals and metals in ancient India by unravelling the mysteries of ‘archaeomaterials’ — with scientific inquiry into production modes and use of minerals. It also studies the indigenous literary sources for the purpose.



ISBN: 9788124600481
Year Of Publication: 1996
Edition: 1st
Pages : xxix, 524,xvii,259,75
Bibliographic Details : 75 Coloured and B/w illustrations; Tables; Figures; Maps; Appendices; Bibliography; Indices
Language : English
Binding : Hardcover
Publisher: D.K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Size: 29 cm.
Weight: 2600


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.


Volume 1
Archaeological Evidence
List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Illustrations
1. Introduction
2. Minerals and Metals in the Pre-Harappan India
Lithic Objects
Gem Minerals
Lithic Artefacts
Gem Minerals
Other Pre-Harappan Sites West of Indus
Nuclear Zones East of Indus
Pre-Harappan Culture in Rajasthan
Ganeshwar-Jodhpura Culture
Significance of the Ganeshwar Discovery
Sothi Culture on the Sarasvati Valley
3. The Story of Material Splendour in Mohenjo-Daro
Topography of Mohenjo-Daro
Summary Statements on Metals/Minerals
Tabulation: Different Metallilc Objects
Different Ornamental Beads
Furnaces and Crucibles
Sources of Minerals at Mohenjo-Daro
Lapis Lazuli
Amazon Stone
Rock Crystal
Agate, Carnelian, Onyx and Chalcedony
Jasper-Agate, Jasper and Bloodstone
Red Ochre
Nepheline-Sodalite Rock
Green Earth
Metals in Mohenjo-Daro
How were the Chalcolithic Objects Made
Metallurgical Work in DK Area
Copper Ore and Lead
Cast Bronze
Metallurgy of Copper Axe
Steatite Beads
Glazed Pottery
Glaze/Vitreous Paste
Saddle Quern
4. Minerals and Metals in Harappa
Geography and Archaeological Excavations
Use of Special Rocks and Stones
Special Potteries and Clays
Special Materials for Animal Figurines and Beads
Other Special Materials
Copper, Bronze and Other Metals
5. Bead and Seal Technology at Chanhu-Daro
Steatite Beads
The Bead Factory with Furnace
Seals and Weights
Stone Objects
Other Minerals/Metals
Red Ochre
Vitreous Paste
6. Harappan Industrial Port at Lothal
History of Excavation
Different Metals
Copper and Bronze
Manufacturing Objects
Copper Ingot
Manufacture of Copper
Source of Copper at Lothal
Manufacture of Beads
Stone Objects
Shell Objects
7. Chalcolithic Ahar
Cultural Sequence
Beads at Ahar
Copper in Ahar
Iron at Ahar
The Origin and Transmission of the Ahar Culture
8. Chalcolithic Cultures of Peninsular India (2000-900 bc)
Kayatha Culture
Malwa Culture
Copper Objects in Prakash
Some General Observations on Malwa Culture
Jorwe Culture
South India
9. Chalcolithic Culture in the Eastern India
The Copper Hoard Traditions
Flat Celts
Shoulder Celts
Antennae Sword
Anthropomorphic Figures
Chalcolithic Culture in the Easterly Provinces
Pandu Rajar Dhibi and Associated Culture in Bengal
10. Copper in Ancient India
Artefact-Ore Correlation
Ancient Copper Mines and Metallurgy in Rajasthan
Three Ancient Indian Traditions In Copper Metallurgy
Copper in the Historical Period
Some Ancient Copper Mines
Copper Slag and Artefacts from Rajghat
The Use of Copper in the Iron Age of India
11. Iron, PGW and Urbanisation at Atranjikhera
History of Excavation
OCP Culture
Black and Red Ware Culture
PGW Culture
Stone Objects
Iron Objects
Copper Objects
Glass Pieces
NBP Culture
NBPW Pottery Constituents
Semi-Precious Stone Beads
Stone Objects
Iron Objects
Copper Objects
Other Metal Objects
Fragment of a Crucible
Powdery Materials
12. Iron in Ancient India
The Science of the Ancient Iron Technology
How did the Iron Technology Arise in India?
The Diffusionist Paradigm
The Earliet Indian Iron in 1300 bc Chalcolithic Ahar?
The Five Iron Age Culture in India
North-Western Culture
Iron Age Culture of North India
B&RW Culture Iron in the Eastern India
Iron Age in the Megalithic cultures of the Peninsular and Central India
Early Iron Age in the Hallur Area
Megalithic Culture of Central India
Iron in the Vidarbha Megalithic Culture
Early Iron Age Culture at Nagda and Ujjain
Early Iron Industry at Ujjain
Iron Metallurgy at Dhatwa
Reconstruction of the Techniques
Iron Metallurgy at Rajghat, Varanasi
13. Minerals and Metals in the Mahabharata Epic Sites of Hastinapura and Ahicchatra
Ahicchatra Archaeology
Comments on the Mahabharata Sites
14. Minerals and Metals in Taxila Through Centuries
The Stone Objects
The Beads at Taxila
Gold and Silver Jewellery
Gems, Inlays and Intaglios
Metals Coins at Taxila
Copper and its Alloys in Taxila
The Iron and Steel Objects at Taxila
15. India’s Trade in Minerals and Metals: Pre-Harappan to Pre-Roman Periods
2000-300 bc
16. Indo-Roman Trade in Minerals and Metals
Mineral-Wise Discussion
The Quartz Group
Varieties of (Unhydrated) Quartz
Corundum-Related Minerals
Silicate Gem Minerals
Beryl-Group of Minerals
Garnet Family of Minerals
On Pearl
On Ivory
On Diamond
On Arikamedu, A Sea-port
Diamond Drill
Indo-Roman Trade in Metals
Items of Import to India
Mineral Imports
17. Mining in Ancient India: Non-Ferrous Ores and other Minerals
Gold Ore in Ancient India
Gold in Alluvial Washings
Tin Ore in Ancient India
Argentiferous Lead Ores in Ancient India
Ancient Lead-Silver-Zinc Mines in Rajasthan
Rampura-Agucha Mines
Pre-Mauryan Era Lead Slag at Zawar Mines
The Raw Materials for the Kshatrapa Coins
The Antiquity of Diamond- and Gem-Mines of India
18. Antiquity of Zinc and Brass in Ancient India
Brass Before the Discovery of Zinc
Zinc Metal and High-Zinc Brass
Mining Archaeology Related to Indian Zinc Ore
Journey Down the Zawar Mala Mines
Some Other Zinc-Ore Mines
Making of Zinc and Brass in Ancient India
Literary Evidences on Zinc and Brass in Ancient India
Discovery of the Ancient Zinc Smelting Outfit
Ancient Retorts and Furnances at Zawar
Thermodynamics of Smelting
The Retort Residue or the Spent Charge: Results from the British Museum Research Laboratory?
Phase Studies on Ancient Zawar Residue at IIT, Kanpur
The Charge in the Unfired Retorts
Summary of the Ancient Process
Primacy of India in Zinc and Brass Metallurgy
19. Iron in the Ancient India of the Post-Christian Era
The Evaluation of the Literary Evidences
What is ‘Steel’?
The Later-Day Evidences
References to Indian Steel: Sixth-Seventeenth Centuries ad
The Art of Damscening Wootz
Concluding Remarks on Wootz
The Tradition of Forge-Welding
The Delhi Iron Pillar
The Composition and Properties of the Delhi Iron Pillar
Rusting of the Pillar
The Causes for the Rustlessness of the Delhi Iron Pillar
Compositional Factors — Environmental Factors
Forge-welding and Dhar Pillar
The Orissa Beams
20. Some Indian Archaeo-Materials in Ancient Works of Art
Stones and Gems
The Buddhist Relic Caskets
Historical Period Art-Works and Stones
Mortars, Plasters and Pigments
Metal-Alloy Systems
Literary References to Metals, Alloys and Their Casting
Other Metal Working Techniques
Household Objects and Ornaments
Neck Ornaments
Ornaments for Hand
Ornaments for Legs
Ornaments for the Waist
Ear Ornaments
Bead Strings
Metals and Alloys in Ancient Indian Coins
Punch-Marked Coins
Cast Coins
Repousse Coins
Die-Struck on Both Sides
Elemental Analysis and Metallography of Coins
Metals and Alloys in Icons of Ancient India
Metallic Art-Traditions in Gujarat
Ancient Bronze and Brass Icons from Other Parts of India
The Art Tradition at Nalanda
Some Other Centres of the Pala Art
The Icon-Metallurgy of Tibet
Bronzes in South India
On-Lead and Iron in Indian Coins and Icons
Multi-Metal Alloys in India
Further Comments on the Sanskrit Texts
Twelfth Century ad — The Dividing Line
21. The Future of the Past
What Next? Required More Analytical Investigations
No Magic Solution from Scientific Investigations
The Literary Evidences
The Past Has a Future
Coloured Illustrations
Volume 2
Literary Evidence
List of Tables
List of Illustrations
1. Introduction
2. Minerals and Metals in the Rigveda
Transition from the Neolithic to the Chalcolithic Age
Fire in Matallurgy
The Meaning of Ayas
Some Metallic Objects
Ornaments and Gems
3. Minerals and Metals in the Vedic Literature after Rigveda
Minerals and Metals
Different Kinds of Ayas
On Trapu or Tin
On Lead
Ornamental and Barter Metals
Iron Implements
Potteries and Other Inorganic Materials
Mani in the Vedic Literature
4. Materials and Concepts in Panini’s Ashtadhyayi
Mine and Mineral Engineering
Extractive Metallurgy
Minerals and Metals
Gold and Coins
Shatamana to Karshapana
Concept of Unit Operations
Technical Concepts in Ashtadhyayi
5. Minerals and Metals in Kautiliya Arthashastra
Mines and Metals in the Society
Indian Topography of the Mineral Resources
The Director of Mines — His Duties
Gem Minerals
Non-Gem Minerals and Materials
Metallic Ores
Precious Metals: Gold, Silver and their Alloys
Minting Coins
The Lohadhyaksha
On Vaikrintaka, Vritta and Tikshna
Iron and Steel Armoury
Tula Mana Desha Kala Pautavam
6. Minerals and Metals in the Indian Epics from An Archaeological Viewpoint
The Antiquity of the Background of the Epic Story
The Text of Mahabharata in the Light of the Archaeological Evidences
500-100 bc Additions
Metals in the Mahabharata
Post-Christian Era Additions to the Epic
On Ramayana
Buddhist Literature Sources
7. A Millennium of Ratnashastra (Gemmology) Literature in India
Categorisation of Gems
Ancient Categorisation Viewed in Terms of the Modern Science
The Scope of Ratnashastra (Gemmology)
Item-wise Discussion on Gems with Decreasing Hardness
Diamond (10)
Corundum, Ruby and Sapphire (9)
Gem Minerals Containing Beryllium
Vaidurya and Marakata
Topaz (8) Pushparaga or Pushyaraga
Zircon, Garnet and Tourmaline
Is Pulaka Garnet?
Quartz (7) family of Gem-Minerals
Is Bhishma Quartz or Chalcedony?
Chalcedony Group of Gems
On Jade
Feldspar Group of Gems
Two Softer Blue Gems of the Ancient World
Coral, Pravala or Vidruma
Pearl of Mukta
The Oyster Pearl
Pearl Market in India
Origin of Pearls: The Mythological Theory
8. Non-Gem Minerals and Metals in Ancient Texts Culminating to Rasashastra
Samhitas of Caraka and Sushruta
Yajnavalkya and Patanjali
Patanjali’s Successor: Nagarjuna
The Yavanajataka
Minerals and Metals in the Gupta Era Literatures
Angavijja and Amarakosha
Varahamihira’s Brihatsamhita
The Rasashastra Texts
The Texts of the Tantric Alchemy Period (7th-13th Century ad)
Rasarnava — A Brahmanical Tantra
Iatro-Chemical Texts
9. Rasaratnasamuccaya — A Pinnacle in the Indian Iatro-Chemistry
Technical Terms Related to Mineral And Metal Processing
Gem Minerals
Eight Maharasas
Uparasa Materials
Some Salts and Natural Products
Metals and Alloys in RRS
Rasa and Rasaka in RRS
Ferrous Materials in RRS
Some Tentative Interpretations
Extracts From
Different Methods of Making Zinc from its Ore (Rasaka)
Extracts From
On Lead and Brass
Extracts From
On Different Kinds of Iron (Ayas) — Munda, Tikshna and Kanta
10. Resume
Archaeology and History
Scientific Concepts Related to Material Science
Scientific Attitude in Ancient India: The Irrational Trends
A More Sympathetic View
Colour Plates
Appendix A: Scientific Information on the Minerals used in the Ancient Period of Human History
Appendix B: Words Related to Minerals and Metals in the Rigveda
Appendix C: Technical Terms Related to Minerals and Metals Mentioned in Panini’s Ashtadhyayi
Appendix D: Some Typical Technical Words in Kautiliya Arthashastra
Appendix E: Some Technical Words in the Post-Christian Era Indian
Literature Related to Minerals and Metals

Meet 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.
Books of Arun Kumar Biswas
(Mrs) Sulekha Biswas, Kanpur University’s Ph. D, has teamed up, since 1964, with Professor Arun Kumar Biswas: her husband, not only in some of his published papers on the History of Science, but in several other academic exercises as well. Her chief research concerns, though, have involved her with Sanskrit texts/treatises on science and religion. In writing Minerals and Metals in Ancient India, Volume 2, (which, incidentally, is also the outcome of her doctoral research), she has had the exp[ert guidance of Professor Biswas.
Books of Sulekha Biswas