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Minerals and Metals in Ancient India ( In 2 Volumes)

Arun Kumar Biswas (Author) Sulekha Biswas (Author)
Synopsis In two volumes, the book tells the fascinating, coherently woven story of the minerals and metals--from across the entire subcontinental 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 I 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 Rgveda to Rasaratnasamuccaya. Reviewing, among other things, the entire gamut of studies in gemmology (ratnasastra) and alchemy (rasasastra), the authors here set out a meticulous analysis of Rasaratnasamuccaya: a fourteenth century text, highlighting 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.
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About the authors

Arun Kumar Biswas

Arun Kumar Biswas (b. 1934) educated at the Calcutta University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, has been Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (1963-1995) and, since 1995 at the Asiatic Society, Calcutta. An authority on applied chemistry, surface chemistry, mineral engineering, archaeo-metallurgy, history of science, and the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda literature, Professor Biswas continues to nurture concepts of archaeo-material science, futuristic emphasis on the history of civilization, and lastly syncretism of science, spirituality and the Vedantic concept of socialism (samya). His published work comprises about a hundred articles and over a dozen books that not only reflect the versatility of his academic / research concerns, but have also brought him international recognition.

Sulekha Biswas

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, she has had the expert guidance of Professor Biswas.

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Bibliographic information

Title Minerals and Metals in Ancient India ( In 2 Volumes)
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.1996
Edition 1st ed.
Publisher D K Printworld
Language: English
isbn 8124600481
length xxx+xviii+784p.,Tables; Maps; Bibliography; Index; Appendices; Indices; Illustrations; 29cm.