Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New research cuts into origins of iron and steel in India

Date:
March 22, 2010
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
Researchers in the UK have returned from a six-week archaeological research expedition to a remote region of rural Andhra Pradesh in India. The team studied the origins of high carbon steel-making in the southern Indian sub-continent.

Exeter graduate Marc Cox with fellow student, V. Ganga Rao of Osmania University, Hyderabad, during field survey.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Exeter

A small but intrepid team of Exeter staff and students has returned from a six-week archaeological research expedition to a remote region of rural Andhra Pradesh in India.

The team, led by Dr Gill Juleff of the University of Exeter's Department of Archaeology, formed one half of a project to study the origins of high carbon steel-making in the southern Indian sub-continent. Funded by UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI), the 'Pioneering Metallurgy' project is a joint venture between Exeter and the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore.

Setting out at 7.00 every morning from their base camp in the small town of Dharmapuri, on the banks of the Godavari river, the team travelled hundreds of miles criss-crossing the arid landscape of Northern Telangana, a region now fighting for independent statehood within India, to explore and record archaeological sites where iron and steel were produced over the last two millennia. Over a period of six weeks the team recorded over 120 archaeological sites where iron and steel were produced.

The area is renowned for the specialised production of crucible steel, sometimes called wootz, a material used in the manufacture of the fabled swords of Damascus. Islamic merchants and European travellers of the 18th and 19th century describe the area as one of the principal sources of wootz steel.

Dr Gill Juleff said, 'While a great deal is known about wootz as a high quality material for making weapons, the underpinning indigenous metallurgical traditions and technologies from which this remarkable material emerged have not been studied'

She added, 'our aim is to try to unravel both the chronological origins of iron smelting in the region and its technological development. To do this we are examining and recording sites where iron has been smelted from local ores. This means visiting rural villages and exploring forest areas to identify heaps of slag waste left by these processes.'

The team has also interviewed traditional blacksmiths and the descendants of the last smelters of the region to record their memories.

When the field work began in mid-January the climate was mild and the nights were cold, but by late February daytime temperatures had soared to 40+C.

Marc Cox, an Exeter graduate said of the experience, 'The contrast between student life in England and everyday rural life in India has changed my outlook on the world, it has been a huge adventure which will stay with me forever. We have been welcomed by everyone we have met. We have joined in local festivals, visited temples, bathed in the rivers and welcomed into peoples homes.'

The project co-investigators, Dr Gill Juleff and Dr Sharada Srinivasan and Professor S. Ranganathan from NIAS, share many years of experience in the field of the archaeometallurgy of South Asia. Dr Juleff's work on the monsoon wind powered furnaces of Sri Lanka and Dr Srinivasan's work on the metallurgy of Chola Bronzes is world renowned. Professor Ranganathan brought a lifetime's experience in the world of advanced modern metallurgy and its application in archaeometallurgy to the project.

As well as Dr Juleff and the UK team, there were Indian students and researchers from NIAS, Central University, Hyderabad and Dharmapuri Degree College. Also in the team were Exeter MA archaeology graduates Neogi Tathagata from Kolkata and Smirthi Haricharan from Chennai.

Also, critical to the success of the expedition was the project's local Dharmapuri research Dr S. Jaikishan, who has spent many years studying the iron-working history of the region.

The next stage of the project involves compiling and analysing data collected from the field expedition in India. Interpreting the data will take place in Exeter and experts from the Indian archaeological team will visit the UK to work together on analysing the material with their UK colleagues in a reciprocal visits planned for later this year.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "New research cuts into origins of iron and steel in India." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100322101531.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2010, March 22). New research cuts into origins of iron and steel in India. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100322101531.htm
University of Exeter. "New research cuts into origins of iron and steel in India." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100322101531.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) Thundering surf spawned by Hurricane Marie pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town. High surf warnings were posted for Los Angeles County south through Orange County. (Aug. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) Researchers at UC Berkeley are testing a prototype of an earthquake early warning system that California is pursuing years after places like Mexico and Japan already have them up and running. (August 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

AFP (Aug. 25, 2014) A factory in the industrial state of Sao Paulo produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins