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Minerals and Metals: Sarasvati-Sindhu

Transition for the Neolithic culture to Bronze-age

Mehrgarh (Jarrige, 1984, Chronology of the Earlier Periods of the Greater Indus as seen from Mehrgarh, Pakistan, in South Asian Archaeology, ed. by B. Allchin, Cambridge, pp. 21-28) in the northern region of Kachhi plains, at the foot of Bolan pass in Baluchistan, has recorded a continuous cultural sequence from neolithic thru chalcolithic (turquoise workshop, 1st half 4th millennium B.C.) to bronze-age cultures, dated from 7th-6th millennium B.C. (a copper bead, sea-shell belt) to 2500 B.C. (spiral-headed copper/bronze pin, one flat axe, one chisel, pipal leaves painted on red ware). Crucibles used for melting copper were found in the first half of the 4th millennium. The dates of Mehrgarh are earlier than the Iranian sites of Tepe Yahya and Tal-i-Iblis, thus recording a paradigm change and 'a collapse of the earlier Irano-centric view' of diffusion of chalcolithic cultures from Iran to the Sindhu-Sarasvati valleys (Asthana, 1985, Pre-Harappan cultures of India and the Borderlands, Delhi, Books and Books: 16-82).

Mundigak, near Kandahar in southern Afghanistan has yielded a flat blade, a bronze point or punch with a circular cross-section (6th millennium B.C.); a lance-head, a knife, sickles and chisels, mirrors, double-spiral-headed pins and a buckle (ca. mid-4th millennium B.C.)

Damb Sada_t, west of Quetta yielded clay seals, copper dagger and knife (3630-2630 B.C.)

Balakot, 88 kms. NW of Karachi yielded copper-bronze objects, native lead and a shell-bangle workshop (mature Harappan phase).

Kot Diji, 25 km. south of Khairpur on the left bank of Indus. Fine axe, chisels of copper, some bronze bangles, knife blades, arrowheads, beads and shell-bangles.

These and other Pre-Harappan sites right and left banks of the Indus river seem to predicate a Sindhu-centric view of the evolution, for nearly 5 millennia, of cultural sequences from ca. 8th millennium B.C.

There are indications of a pre-Harappan culture in Rajasthan. Bagor located on the left-bank of Kothari river and 25 km. west of Bilwara in eastern Rajasthan had a microlith industry (5000-2800 B.C.)(Sankalia, 1974, The Pre-history and Proto-history of India and Pakistan, Pune, Deccan College, 260-64); the chalcolithic phase at this side yielded bits of copper/bronze, one spearhead, one thin rod and three arrowheads (ca. 2800 B.C.) Jodhpura located on the right bank of river Sabi, near Jaipur and Ganeshwar, 15 km. from Neem-ka-Thana (37.40N and 75.51E) yielded over 1000 copper objects (ca. 2500 B.C.): arrowheads, spearheads, fish-hooks, spiral-headed pins, celts, thin blades, bangles, chisels. Axes were cast in mould and edges bevelled by hot and cold forging. There is a place near Ganeshwar called Kulha_d.e-ka_-Johad. (pond of axes). Round indentations made with pointed copper drills, in combinations of 1-6 dots, totalling between 4-16 were noticed on the butt of the celts, indicating some ancient system of numeration. Similar indentations wre noted in later-day celts found at Kayatha and Navdatoli. Kantali river was close to these sites and this river linked up with the Sarasvati near Kalibangan. A copper hoard was found at Kurada (Nagaur district): 55 rings, 21 curved thin blade or choppers, 11 chisels, 9 bowls, 7 celts. (Agrawala, R.C.,1984, Aravalli, the major source of copper for the Indus and Indus-related cultures, in Frontiers of the Indus Civilization, eds. B.B.Lal, S.P. Gupta and Shashi Asthana, Delhi, Books and Books, pp. 157-62).

Sothi (Bikaner), on the banks of Sarasvati and Jalilpur, 78 km. SW of Harappa has yielded copper or bronze rods. Kalibangan (ca. 2900 B.C.), on the left bank of the Sarasvati river also recorded Sothi ware and copper bangles, an axe, a paras'u and over 100 copper artefacts. Pre-Harappan levels of Kalibangan have recorded only three copper objects: a curved blade (chopper), a celt and a bangle (Lal, B.B.,1979, Kalibangan and the Indus Civilization, in: Essays in Indian protohistory, ed. D.P. Agrawal and Dilip Chakravorty, Delhi, BR Publishing Corpn, pp. 65-97) Agrawala (1984), however, reports 56 copper objects: antimony rods, rings, wire pieces, lumps, bangles, pins, arrowheads, beads, rods, celts. The Harappan period extended this repertoire to include: hooks, chisels, spearheads, knives, awls, nails, blades, ear-rings, drills, daggers, needles, razors, mirrors, figures of bulls.

Banawali, 15 km. NW of Fatehabad on the Sarasvati River had a house with several hearths, ovens and fire-pits. There were bangles of copper, shell and faience. Products: arrowhead, bangle, spearhead, sickle blade, razor, chisel, ring, double-spiralled and simple pin, ear/nose ring/fish-hook (R.S. Bisht, 1982, Excavations at Banawali, in: Harappan Civilization, ed. G.L. Possehl, Delhi, Oxford and IBH Publishing Co., pp. 113-24).

Kalibangan products: celt, hammer, bangle, arrow, fish-hook, axe, paras'u, mirror, pin (B.B. Lal, 1979, Kalibangan and the Indus Civilization, in: Essays in Indian Proto-History, eds. D.P. Agarwal and D.K. Chakrabarti, Delhi, B.R. Publishing Corpn., pp. 65-97).

Gamanwala had an extent of 27.3 ha. and Ganweriwala of 81.5 ha. (almost as large as Mohenjodaro) and were industrial sites on the banks of the Sarasvati River close to the Cholistan desert. Some sites were specifically for melting and fabrication of copper objects. At Siddhuwala Ther, located near Derawar, Sir Aurel Stein had discovered a number of kilns and a copper ingot. (Mughal, M.R., 1982, Karachi, Archaeological Surveys in Bahawalpur, Dept. of Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of Pakistan).


MIC: John Marshall, 1931, London, Mohenjodaro and the Indus Civilizations, Vols. I and II

FEM: EJH Mackay, 1938, Delhi, Further Excavations in Mohenjodaro

EH: Madho Sarup Vats, 1940, Calcutta, Excavations at Harappa

CE: EJH Mackay, Chanhudaro Excavation

Tin has always been found as an alloy with copper in almost all the sites of the civilization during the mature-Harappan phase. The percentage of tin in bronze averages from 6 to 13 percent (MIC, I, 30).

Mohenjodaro was an island between the Indus and the Western Nara loop (27.19N 68.8E). Bronze was used for weapons requiring sharp edges and for figurines or ornaments with fine finish. Another alloy of copper was found: arsenic averaging 3 to 4.5 percent in content. The arsenic component might have come from the copper ore itself or using another arsenic-containing mineral such as lollingite (MIC, I, 31). Weapons of war were: axes, spears, daggers, bows and arrows, maces, slings. No evidence of shields, helmets, or swords were found. Two types of blade-axes were: lay and narrow, shor and broad.

Objects of copper: hook, axe, sword, knife, spearhead, pan, dish, chisel, vase, scale pan, bangle, canister, awl, saw, lance-head, razor, cones, dagger, ring, spoon, reamer, kohl-stick, sickle, casting, broken ingot, scale beam, fish-hook, copper lump, needle. Copper vessels were made in two parts and joined together by running on and rivetting techniques. (Soldering was used for gold and silver).

Objects of bronze: spearhead, mirror, vase, axe, pan, saw, chisel, dagger, axe-adze, fish-hook, scale pans, ornament, spacer, hook, knife, kohl-pot (FEM, 441-94). Short broad axes of copper and bronze, copper leather cuter, bronze razor and saw, bronze fish-hook were also found by Marshall (MIC, II, 488-508). Both bronze and copper were used as spacers and terminals for bead-necklaces. Gold and electrum were in use, in a significant measure with the possibility that cupellation was used to extract silver from its ores (perhaps argentiferous galena). Edwin Pascoe suggests that in ancient times, lead was extensively mined in various parts of India, chiefly to extract the silver associated with it. Hamid's analysis of samples of silver proved the presence of lead, thus enhancing the possibility that silver used in Mohenjodaro was an extract from an ore, perhaps galena rich in silver. (MIC, II, 524). Lead (with silver) was also available in the Fa_ranja_l mine in the Ghorband Valley of Afghanistan.

Marshall found in HR area, House VII an oval-shaped, 7 ft. long pottery kiln with a narrow mouth, surrounded by a thin wall of a single course of burnt bricks. A few betel-leaf-shaped clay plaques were found near the mouth of the furnace. A kiln in VS area, House VII had a circular shape and dia 6 ft. srrounded by a wall of a single course of bricks. This was possibly a pottery kiln (MIC, II, 226). DK mound, G section had six kilns, this mound was perhaps the artisans' quarter (perhaps potters). A number of copper melts found near House VI of Block 2 point to metallurgists at work. House VI, Room 51 yielded copper ore and a small piece of lead in a brick-kilned pit. Lead was perhaps used to assist smelt copper (FEM, 41). SW wing, room 33 produced two kilns, both 4ft. 3 in. deep and paved with brick, with a 4 in. ledge. The kilns were used to fire at high temperatures using wood or charcoal. (FEM, 49-50). At courts 21 and 26 two kilns had floor at a level of 3.5 ft, perforated with a number of holes for the heat of the fire to penetrate to the pottery. These holes were arranged in a ring round the edge of the floor with one hold in the centre. (FEM, 102). Mackay believed that G section DK kilns were to bake pottery but those in the 'palace' might have been used by an armourer in the making and repair of weapons and tools, which recall the armourer's shop in the palace ta Kish. Copper ore came from Jaipur state in Rajputana, the Shah Maqsud in Southern Afghanistan and Robat in the extreme west of Baluchistan (MIC, II, 676). Lead was available from Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Rajputana and Hazaribagh. Tin content of 4.5-13.2 percent indicate the use of high grade bronze. Another proof is the completely oxidized state of a substantial core of white stannic oxide enveloped in a layer of red cuprous oxide in many objects. Bronze was used for tools, razors, jewellery (MIC, II, 481-83). It is likely that the discovery of bronze occured in North Persia. It is noted that daggers and knives discovered in the Mohenjodaro civilization resemble some weapons found at Susa, Anau and in SW Caspian areas (MIC, II, 483-84). Bronze statues (e.g. the dancing girl statue, animal figurines) were cast bronze perhaps using cire perdue process and also direct casting in a mould (FEM, 283-84, MIC, I, 345).

Metallurgy of Copper axe. "In terms of Brinell hardness, the axe of Mohenjodaro was 85 close to the cutting edge (the figure is much above that of mild steel), decreasing to 63 towards the middle of the blade. HCH Carpenter of the Royal School of Mines suggested that it is possible that the ancient axes do not retain their original hardness; it is also possible that such an axe was once harder. Mackay concludes from the examination of the rejected castings that the axes of Mohenjodaro were cast very much in the same shape as the finished specimen that we have found, even to the curved cutting edge; these would therefore have required not only hammering to shape them, but also possibly a great deal of hardening." (FEM, 594-95; A.K.Biswas, Minerals and Metals in Ancient India, Delhi, DK Printworld, 1994).

Ston seals or steatite seals and bosses on them were first cut into shape by a saw, whose thickness was 0.025 in. (Faience was used for amulets, animal figurines, balls and marbles, beads, button, finger rings, bracelets, head ornaments, seals, studs, vessels and weights.) The rounding off of the boss was perhaps done with a knife and finished off with an abrasive. A hole was bored through the boss from opposite sides. (MIC, II, 377). The Harappan seals found at Kish, Mesopotamia had traes of oroginal blue or green colouring, indicating the use of glazing techniques. Herbert Beck concluded that the surface of the seal was painted with some alkali and then subjected to heat (FEM, 346). Marshall felt that the vitreous paste on faience objects was an Indian invention and was applied to faience. Glaze as mixed with a siliceous powder   and manganiferous haematite or red ochre as pigments, and fired at high temperature; the paste resembled glass in some respects.

Harappa had a number of furnaces. Harappa is loated at the confluence of two sukhra_va_s (dry beds of the Ravi river), 15 miles WSW of Montgomery town. Copper objects found: a two-wheeled copper chariot, copper antimony rod stopper, copper mace-head, copper beads, ornaments. A large hoard of copper and bronze implements was found in a copper jar No. 277, Mound F: one hundred weapons, implements, utensils both finished and unfinished, cast bars, lance-head, bangles, thick sheet of copper with hammer marks (EH, 470-73). In 48 samples examined, the percentage of arsenic (harita_l) ranged from .3 to 7 percent); the percentage of tin ranged from 1 to 14 percent. Rajputana mines contain As (Arsenic) and Ni (Nickel) . Sources of tin were Hazaribagh, Bihar and Mesopotamia. A simple tin solder of its alloy with lead and soldering of silver and gold were used. In Mound F, 16 furnaces have been discovered: (a) part of round pottery jar; (b) cylindrical pits dug in the ground with or without brick lining; (c) pear-shaped pits dug in the ground with or without brick lining. Jar-furnace filed with charcoal fuel is still in use by goldsmiths in the region. Some furnaces were found with ashes and quantities of vitrified slag. In many furnaces, there is a small rectangular pillar or sometimes a wall set at the back and an air passage for the circulation of heat between itself and the back wall.

Lothal had an exclusive commersmiths' quarter (2300-2000 B.C.)(Sr Rao, Lothal, Vols. I and II, Delhi, ASI, 1979 and 1985).  Lothal is between the Rann of Cambay (khambat) and Little Rann of Kutch, close to the Nal lake, about 52 miles from Ahmedabad and 4 miles from Bhurki. The ancient mound is between Bhogava and Sabarmati rivers. Bronze (low-tin) was used for pins, mirrors, rods, chisels, flat axes, daggers and arrowheads; bronze (high-tin) was used for bangles and pins. Lead was used to harden tools with sharp edges. Tin became a rarity in Sumer by 2700 B.C. until it could be obtained again by 1500 B.C.Sayce cites that tablets from Kara Huyuk refer to tin which was a rare and precious metal in Babylon ca. 2500-2200 B.C. Of the 71 objects from Lothal examined by Lal, only 8 objects contained tin: the tin content of two bangles were 11.2 to 11.82 percent. A grooved rod had 9.02 percent, a mirror 5.47 percent, a pin 13.80 percent, two chisels 9.02 to 9.62 percent, an engraver 3.96 percent, a spear 2.27 percent. Lothal metal-workers knew the art of forging bronze. The manufactured objects found: axes with long narrow blade or broad blade; spearhead, arrowhead, razor, chisels, dagger head, mirror awls and needles, nails and rods, fish-hooks and saw. Personal ornaments of copper and bronze: bangle, ring, ear-ornament, beads. Figurines: bull, hare, dog, bird, fowl. Jar, mirror, spoon, chair were also fabricated. Copper ingots of plano-convex shape (99.81 percent purity) were also found. The ingots from Susa also have a concave under-surface and short projections. Perhaps some copper was imported and remelted in clay crucibles (Rao, 520-21). A coppersmith's workshop was discovered. One furnace was circular with a rectangular projection to supply fuel. A second furnace (House 154) had a muffle. A kiln yielded ash and fragments of terracotta crucibles and a stone mould used for casting pins and awls. A copper pin, a broken copper chisel and a hammer stone with a socket for hafting are finds from the vicinity of this workshop. A sample of cementation brass (1500 B.C.) from Dwaraka has also been reported. Electrum was used for making gold pendants (Rao, 664-65). Kolar gold-fields yield electrum. At the smiths' workshops were found clay tablets containing impressions from the Harappan seals. (These are further analyzed in this website).

The presence of zinc in a Lothal arteact (2200-1500 B.C.) (No. 4189) assayed: 70.7 percent copper; 6.04 zinc; 0.9 Fe, 6.04 acid-soluble component (probably carbonate, a product of atmospheric corrosion). The zinc and other components could have come from the Ahar-Zawar area, Rajasthan. The next dated brass artefacts are: from the Gordian tomb in Phrygia of the eigth and seventury B.C. and Etruscan bronze of the fifth century B.C. containing 11 percent zinc.

Chanhudaro produced seals, beads and weights.  Chanhudaro is 12 miles away from the left bank of the Indus, near Jamal-Kirio (Nawabshah District, Sind). Mound II yielded in four hoards, a large quantity of tools and implements, of copper and bronze. Unfinished castings and ingots were discovered in some of the hoards, indicating a metal-workers' quarter. Objects: copper jar cover, scale-pans and beams, bronze blade axes, saw, spearhead, daggers, small knives, rajors, arrow-heads, bronze fish-hook, copper and bronze awls, rods, bronze stave-heads and plumb-bob. Ornaments were: bracelets, pendants, rings and pins in coper and bronze only (CE, 190). One ingot was bronze formed by pouring the molten metal into a vertical hole in the ground. A second ingot has a flat top and a rounded base. Small blocks of lead were also found (CE, 187-88). In room 215 a concreted mass of minute steatite beads was found. There were also three copper or bronze knives, a copper pin, a steatite seal, a flake drill, a faience gamesman, a shell object and some carnelian nodules. Courtyard 297 produced a large pan with copper and bronze tools, an ingot of bronze, a copper chisel, bangles and razors (CE, 43).

The Bronze-age triangle: Sarasvati-Sindhu, Persia and Mesopotamia

The jury is still out on the issues related to dating the bronze-age artefacts in the three contiguous areas: India, Iran and Mesopotamia/Anatolia.

D.K. Chakrabari (1979, The problem of tin in early India--a preliminary survey, in: Man and Environment, Vol. 3, pp. 61-74) opines that during the pre-Harappan and Harappan periods, the main supply of tin was from the western regions: Khorasan and the area between Bukhara and Samarkand. The ancient tin mines in the Kara Dagh District in NW Iran and in the modern Afghan-Iranian Seistan could have been possible sources. Harappan metal-smiths used to conserve tin by storing and re-using scrap pieces of bronze, making low-tin alloys and substituting tin by arsenic. It is possible that some of the imported tin (like lapis lazuli) was exported to Mesopotamia. A cylinder seal of Gudea of Lagash (2143-2124 B.C.) read: "copper, tin, blocks of lapis lazuli-- bright carnelian from the land of Meluhha." (Muhly, J.D., 1976, Copper and Tin, Hamden, Archon Books, pp. 306-7).  Trapu is tin in the Atharva Veda (11, 8.7-8: s'ya_mamayah asya ma_m.sa_ni lohitamasya lohitam; trapu bhasma haritam varn.ah pus.karamasya gandhah) and van:ga is also tin with the possible association of chalcolithic cultures in Bengal (2nd millennium B.C.) with possible links with the culture of Thailand of the same period (Solheim, W.C., Sciene, Vol. 157, p. 896).   Hegde suggests the possibility that water-concentrated placer deposits referred to as 'stream tin' in the proximity of Aravalli and Chota Nagpur Hills might have also been the sources of tin.

S. R. Rao (1979, 1985: Lothal report) noted that Mohenjodaro copper and Rajasthan ore contained arsenic while the copper artefacts of Lothal were remarkably arsenic-free. The possible inferences are: Mohenjodaro artisans used copper obtained from sources other than Rajasthan to add arsenic; Lothal artisans might have used copper imported from Oman; Lothal artisans knew the techniques (evident in later-day Ahar) of roasting copper ore to remove arsenic.

Arsenic alloying preceded tin alloying in West Asia. Tin alloys started in Iran only during the third millennium B.C. Lollingite (FeAs2) samples were found in Nal (Southern Baluchistan). It is likely that arsenic might have been used both as hardener of copper and as a deoxidiser. Lead was used as a flux.

S.R. Rao further notes: "The fact that bar-celts and chisels and flat rectangular axes (celts) were as popular in the Copper Hoard and the Indus Valley Cultures should not be overlooked. By 1900 B.C. the Harappans had already evolved at Lothal the crescentic sleeved axe which is associated with the Copper Hoard people and resembles the Bisauli anthropomorphic figure (S.R.Rao, 1973, Lothal and the Indus Civilization, Bombay, Asia Publishing House, 183-84). Copper Hoard Culture (1100-800 B.C.) is characterized by antennae sword, anthropomorph and the harpon, celts, axe-blades, socked axes and knowledge of closed casting method (similar to the methods of the Harappans).

KTM Hegde and Ericson, J.E., 1985, Ancient Indian Copper Smelting Furnaces, in: Furnaces and Smelting Technology in Antiquity, ed. P.T. Craddock, Occasional Paper No. 48, British Museum, London, pp. 59-67: The survey covered six ancient copper ore mining and smelting sites in the Aravalli (Arbuda) hills extending over a thousand kms.: Khetri and Kho Dariba in NE, Kankaria and Piplawas in the Central part and Ambaji in SW.. A large majority of mine-pits measure 7-8 metres in dia. and 3-4 metres deep showing evidence of fire-treating of the host rocks on the mine walls to widen rock joints. The evidene indicated probable mining in the chalcolithic period. Timber supports recovered from a gallery at a depth of 120 metres at Rajpura-Dariba mines in Udaipur District were radio-carbon dated to 3120+_ 160 years before the present (1987). This correlates with the zinc-containing copper artefacts of Atran~jikhera. Finely crushed ore was concentrated by gravity separation at the smelting sites which were invariably close to the banks of hill streams. This helped separate gangue from the ore. Smelting charge was by crushed quartz equal to the weight of the ore, crushed charcoal twice the weight of the ore. Furnace walls showed evidence of residues of small, hand-made, fistfuls of spherical lumps. The smelter furnace was a small, crucible-shaped, clay-walled, slag-tapping deice worked on forced draught from bellows; 'this simple furnace appears to have been continuously used in India over the millennia without little innovation.' It would appear that the facilities in the metropolis of the civilization on the banks of Sarasvati and Sindhu were only purification and fabrication facilities with limited or no smelting operations. Bun-shaped copper ingots from Ganeshwar taken through the riverine routes were perhaps carried by itinerant metal-smiths of the copper-hoard culture and fabricated in cities like Mohenjodaro and Harappa to meet the specifications of the consumers of this doab or the Tigris-Euphrates doab.

A reference to itinerant metal-smiths who make arrows of metal, in the Rigveda (9.112.2) will have to be re-evaluated in the context of this evidence.

jarati_bhih os.adhi_bhih parn.ebhih s'akuna_na_m
ka_rma_ro as'mabhih dyubhih hiran.yavantam icchati_
(RV. 9.112.2)

This is a description of a smithy, perhaps an allusion to the making of copper reducing the ores. The metalsmiths sold the products (a copper implement or copper-tipped arrow or golden ornament) to moneyed-people.

a_la_kta_ ayomukham is.u (RV. 6.75.15): reference to poison and metal-tipped arrow.

r.s.t.i: a_sr.ukmaira_ yudha_ nara r.s.va_ r.s.t.i_h assr.aks.ata (RV. 5.52.6): javelin thunder spear

brahman.aspatireta_ sam. karma_ra iva_dhamat
deva_na_m. pu_rvye yuge asatah sadaja_yata
(RV. 10.72.2): reference to metalsmith who blows in a furnace and makes metal objects.

kr.ti: has.tes.u kha_dis'ca kr.tis'ca (a guard and a sword)(RV. 1.168.3)

ks.ura: yada_ te va_to anuva_ti s'oirvapteva s'mas'ru vapasi prabhu_ma (RV. 10.142.4): With the wind at its back, fire wipes out the trees and forests and 'shaves' the land just as the barber shaves (with a razor).

khanitra: khanama_nah khanitraih (RV. 1.179.6): by the digging spade

kha_di: kha_dayo (RV. 7.56.13): shoulder decoration, sword?

paras'u: s'is'ite paras'um. sva_yasam. (RV. 10.53.): sharpened metallic axe.

pra_ca_ gavyantah pr.thupars'avo yayuh da_s.a_ ca vr.tra_ hatama_rya_ni ca (RV. 7.83.1): with big axes came to the east came the cow-plunderers -- the da_sas as well as some a_ryas.

va_s'i_: va_s'i_ a_yasi_ (RV. 8.29.3): bronze tool-chisel, axe or adze. The neolithic one was as'manmayi_ va_s'i_ (RV. 10.101.10) made of stone.

svadhiti: ks.n.otren.eva svadhitim sam. s'is'i_tam (RV. 2.39.7): sharpen the swords/axes on the whetstone. means a sword?

It may be appropriate to contract these notes with anecdotes of trade and some etyma during the later periods.

Ca. 1015 B.C., King Solomon and King Hiram of Tyre sent ships sailing directly from the Arabian port to India, touching 'Ophir', Sophir or Sauvira in the Gulf of Khambat (near Lothal) and brought back gold, silver, ivory and peacocks.

Homeric times refer to tin along with ivory coming from India (V. Ball, 1880, A geologist's contribution to the History of Ancient India, in: Journal of Royal Geological Society of Ireland, Vol. 5, Part 3, 1879-89, Edinburgh, pp. 215-63). Ball reiterates Lassen's comment that the Greek word kassiteros was derived from kastira whereas Bevan feels (E.J. Rapson ed., 1921, The Cambridge History of India, Vol. I, Delhi, Indian Edn., S. Chand and Co., p. 351) that kastira was derived from kassiteros. Such a controversy also existed about a_raku_t.a in Sanskrit and oreichalkos in Greek  ('mountain copper') which refer to brass. Pliny called this aurichalcum or golden copper (since brass is yellow) )(Pliny, Naturalis Historia, 34.2 and 37.44).

Monier-Williams' lexicon suggests that the root for kastira was ka_ns (to shine). There is a possibility that the root might have yielded kan:sa_ which means bronze or copper-tin alloy. (AV, 10.10.5: s'atam. kan:sa_h indicating the possible use of the metal as an exchange unit).


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