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Key Metals and Alloys from Indian and South Indian Antiquity: An Archaeometallurgical Overview

Author(s): Sharada Srinivasan
Paper category: Proceedings
Book title: Proceedings of the International Conference on Advances in Construction Materials and Systems, Vol. 1
Editor(s): Manu Santhanam, Ravindra Gettu, Radhakrishna G. Pillai, Sunitha K. Nayar
ISBN: 978-2-35158-193-3
e-ISBN: 978-2-35158-191-9
Publisher: RILEM Publications SARL
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 99-112
Total Pages: 14
Language : English

Abstract: Archaeometallurgy is increasingly becoming a widely inclusive discipline of archaeology which attempt to trace the history of ancient metal production, distribution and usage in antiquity and the related socio-cultural and economic ramifications (Srinivasan 1996). Metals have played a crucial role ever since post-Neolithic societies being used progressively through the Copper Ages, Bronze Ages and Iron Ages across different regions. The early metals to be exploited were those which were found in the native state, followed by those which could be smelted or reduced easily from ores, while those which were more difficult to smelt were discovered last. The commonly used metals in antiquity include gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, lead, zinc and mercury (Srinivasan and Ranganathan 1997). Many modern developments in metallurgy draw from in ancient practices that pre-date the Industrial Revolution. The earliest usage of copper seems be around the 8th millennium BCE in Turkey or Anatolia (Rehren and Pernicka 2008). The use of non-ferrous metals is seen in the river valley cultures of Mesopotamia, Egypt; and also the coeval Harappan civilisation of the Indian subcontinent (c. 2500 BCE) (Possehl and Rissman 1992, Kenoyer 1998). The trajectory of some of the metals used in antiquity is traced in this paper with some archaeometallurgical insights, field studies and technical investigations by the author, particularly from southern India. Various techniques of scientific examination find increasing use in archaeometallurgical and archaeometric study, including microscopy, spectro-chemical and elemental analysis, x-ray fluorescence and others. Investigations of archaeometallurgical debris such as slags, crucible and furnace remnants can be made using SEM-EDAX, EPMAWDS and so on. Lead isotope ratio analysis can be a useful technique for identifying the source of lead alloyed in an artefact since the lead isotope ratios remain unchanged through smelting processes (Srinivasan 1999a), which has been attempted by the author on some artefacts as reported here.

Online publication : 2017
Publication type : full_text
Public price (Euros) : 0.00

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