06 May The invention of Metallurgy
The Rigveda has widely referred to hiranya, which is the oldest Sanskrit word for gold. It has also mentioned products made from gold, such as water vessel, necklace and visor. Chariots decorated with gold have also been mentioned.
India was the world-leader in Metallurgy. Indians were very advanced in metallurgy since ancient times. Gold jewelry is available from 3,000 BCE. Brass and bronze pieces are dated back to 1,300 BCE.
Melting of metals and derivation of alloys was done since 3000 BCE in ancient India.
Extraction of zinc from ore by distillation was used in India as early as 400 BCE while William Campion patented the process some 2,000 years later.
Another important metal referred to in Rigveda is ayas. It has a shining appearance. Ayas has different meanings in different periods. In early Vedic period, it meant either copper or copper alloys.
One of the important products made from ayas, as stated in the Rigveda, was the weapon of Indra called vajra. It was made by the process of sinchan (casting). In the later Vedic period ayas or karshnayas meant iron. In the Atharvaveda, rajata (silver), trapu (tin) and sisa (lead) have been mentioned.
The Rasaratnasamuchchaya described three types of ferrous materials, viz, munda, tiksna and kanta. When iron ore pieces are reduced by charcoal in solid state, iron blocks containing porosity results.
Metal smiths were also active in the production of agricultural implements, household articles and above all, the coveted jewelry.
The tempering of steel was brought in ancient India to a perfection unknown till recent times. In the Gupta period India was looked up to as the most skilled of the nations in such chemical industries as dying, tanning, soap-making, glass and cement.
The famous Iron Pillar at Delhi of the Classical Period stands testimony to the extraordinary skills of the metal smiths of the time. A fact of great significance is that this Pillar 7.5 meters in height has stood for over 1500 years without any signs of decay or rust.
World’s only metal mirror has been credited as the invention of ancient India
The only metal mirror in the world is made in Aranmula, a small town on the banks of the river Pamba in Kerala. The Aranmula kannady (Malayalam word for mirror) is an alloy of five metals – copper,brass, silver, bronze, and lead. The reflection in the Aranmula kannady is not equaled even by glass mirrors.