In recent years, there has been an increasing awareness among scholars and the general educated public to know the nature and causes of scientific and technological development or stagna-tion in the history of the nation. The History of Technology in India planned in four volumes is an attempt to fmd an answer to this problem under the guidance of the National Commission for History of Science. The volume I, presented here, is based on the analysis of major sources and the results of modem researches by different specialists in the period from Antiquity to 1200 A.D. The contributions spread over Stone & Bronze Age technologies and later technological developments, with special focus on Material Technology, Chemical and Medical practices, Textile Technology, Agriculture and Food, Town Planning, Building and Building Materials, Irrigation Works, and Transportation. The Arts and Crafts section gives interesting information. The section on Units and Social Factors, essential for technological activities, have also been analysed with perspective details.
The volume has varieties of technological de-tails and contains obviously many divergent issues which have made it quite interesting. The nature, views or perceptions are mostly presented with data, analysis, photographs, line drawings, and tables to have sharper focus on different facets of technology. An underlying unity, of course, is visible in treatment, since the contributions are based on common sources.
There is ample testimony for the emergence and evolution of several advanced large human settlements from about 2500 BC in the Indian sub continent from a ariety of artifacts testifying to creativity and skills in areas of agriculture, water management, animal husbandry, construction, tool making, textiles, fired clay pottery, carved stoneware, smelting for metals, alloys and shaped materials for transport, weapons as well as jewellery, decorative objects, toys and instruments for music & games. Natural materials, living renewable resources as well as minerals have been processed to evolve colours, pigments, preservatives, flavours, perfumes adhesives, lubricants, protective coatings and medicinal preparations. The availability in the last 50 years of new 'scientific techniques of micro analysis, spectroscopy photography, computer modelling have enabled persuit of new scientific studies and for precise definition of dates, origin and nature of materials, simulation of processes. The Indian National Commission for the History of Science functioning in the Indian National Science Academy has embarked on the major mission of preparation of a four volume History of Technology in India. The Commission has mobilised several scholars in many disciplines of social, historical, physical and biological sciences for authoritative articles and chapters. I am happy Volume I covering the period from antiquity to 1200 AD, has been completed and is now ready for publication. The other volumes for the periods 1200-1800, 1801-1947 and 1947 to the present time are being planned and of these, volume III for the period 1801-1947 is in its final stages. These volumes resulting from sustained research, critical assessment of knowledge from several sources, with tables, photographs, sketches and references to sources are very valuable documents. The Indian National Science Academy is deeply grateful to the authors and editors for their painstaking and scholarly contribution to this volume, The services of the Members of the Indian National Commission for the History of science and the Members of Advisory Boards are much appreciated. These volumes will undoubtedly fulfil long felt aspirations and will become Major reference sources to scholars and the public all over the world.
Each age has its own technology and the technology carries the stamp of its age. This is a well-known dictum. But this two-way relationship between society at any epoch and its'technology, becomes meaningful only when each topic is taken by itself and linked with other areas of technology upon which it was dependent or the age in which it was developed. This approach has not always been made possible since in ancient times there was as such no strict boundary of regions, and material techniques moved with movement of people, through trade, commerce and for livelihood. The modern specialists, on the other hand, are mostly bound by their individual speciality, age, and sometimes their individual country. Availability of document and their exact decipherment are problems to this kind of approach. In a book of technology, the technical details are also of primary importance. Keeping these in mind the series was restricted to technology of Indian subcontinent only based on the survey of literary sources, archaeological reports and materials of different periods and dynasties, and studies made on them from time to time.
The volume contains contribution of thirty Indian experts and begins with Stone Age and Bronze Age technologies to have some idea of the Indian subcontinent in global context. Various Prehistoric cultural terms like Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age etc. are used in Indian context following European and Mediterranean cultures. There is abundant evidence of Stone Age cultures from the time of Pleistocene and these have been described as early, middle and late Stone Age on the basis of major type of Stone industries found in Soan and Beas Valleys (Punjab & Himachal Pradesh) and river of Narmada (Adamgarh, Jabalpur area, Bhera Ghat, Barasimla, Maheshwar etc.), Krishna Bridge, Ganga & Sone valleys (Barkaccha, Sidhpur, Lekhand etc.) and other places around Bombay and Madras. The fashioning of Stone Age tools and techniques, indicates that there was a continuous struggle by prehistoric man for survival which changed skills of fashioning of crude pebbles or lithic tools stage by stage. The next phase of Neolithic culture is marked by some kind of mixed farming, domestication of animals, use of potteries, building of dwelling houses etc, in which the stone is still :le basic material of protection.
The Bronze (copper + tin) is found in use in Indian subcontinent at quite an early Phase and became a distinctive feature of the Indus Valley Culture (Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, Chanhu-daro & other sites). The materials known to the Indus Valley people are gold, silver and copper in alloy with tin (bronze) and with arsenic and lead. From 200 sample analysis, it is found that 23% copper was alloyed with In. 12% with arsenic and 5% with lead. Tin and arsenic alloy (with copper) were common with Harappan culture whereas tin alloy (with copper) were exclusively used in post-Harappan Banas, Jorwe and other Chalcolithic cultures. The varied mange of copper and bronze implements, weapons and house-hold utensils point to large exploitation of metals and flourishing industry of mining, metallurgy and manufacturing trade. Harappan culture witnessed a remarkable standarization of ceramics, brick sizes, both burnt and mud bricks. The skill of brick layers is visible in great public buildings of the citadel complexes, great bath of Mohenjo- daro and granaries of both Mohenjo-daro & Harappa. There is ample evidence of agricultural activities, textiles, town planning, fabrication of houses, domestication of animals, transportation, arts & crafts attesting the antiquity of many other organised technical activity in later times in which India was well-known. What is that supported this vast technological, economic and social activities ? Is it surplus agriculture? Huge brick built granaries is of course an indicator. Trade also assisted in two way diffusion of culture and technology.
Rgvedic civilization (c.1500 - 1000 B.C.) has been underrated by few paradigms like Aryan invasion, rural civilization (with reference to urban Harappan civilization), absende of cosmic order (rtam) including scientific spirit. These criticisms are not found meaningful. These get added significance when examined against a backdrop of high monistic order, civil war of oppressed agriculturists living in Haryana & Punjab, semi-urban surroundings of people living side by side and other factors. lion-use got slowly a new lease of life in Karnataka in South U.P.,Rajasthan area in Ahar,Atranjikhera (c.1150 B.C.), and West Bengal - Bihar area in Pandu-rajar Dhibi & Barudih (c 1200 B.C.). This led to some kind of urbanization and power struggle and a complex process of class structure. Originally there was division of labour but no institution of caste. Gradually the impact of caste system categorized people as well as metals, woods and even mundane things into castes and subcastes, a stigma for free exchange of knowledge. The revolt against tradition and conservatism brought in many new ideas and new pursuits. The period from c. 1000 B.C. to the beginning of the Christian era saw new technology with the vedic people. The power struggle and rivalry promoted technology further to protect and augment the power structure. Nanda and Maurya empires flourished. Rapid growth took place in mining, metallurgy, semi- precious gems and weaving industry to manage state control economy. This is clear from the Arthaidstra of Kautilya which had prescribed duties for superintendent of mines, metals, coins and mints, ocean-mines etc. The head Superintendent of metals was entrusted to carry. on the manufacture of coins, the ocean mine superintendent was for the collection of conch shells, diamonds, precious stones,pearls, corals and regulate commerce on the above activities. There is also reference to guilds of workinen and those who carry on the co-operative along with the details of manufacturing and processing techniques. The work shows unique specialization. To assess the extent of this knowledge, papers have been grouped for better understanding.
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