HISTORY & CULTURE: ‘The industrial revolution started here’ – by Vangmayi Parakala (The Hindu – March 15, 2019)


The 2019 Colonel James Tod Awardee, British Musem’s Dr. Paul Craddock talks of early metallurgy in Rajasthan, and how it influenced Europe

At sunset, below the ramparts of the Udaipur City Palace, the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF) recognised service towards nation-building, art, conservation, and culture with their 37th annual awards ceremony this weekend. Along with former ISRO chair Dr. Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan as chief guest, the MMCF’s chairman, ‘Maharana’ Arvind Singh Mewar, presented the honours.

The foundation has 13 instituted awards, of which the Colonel James Tod Award recognises a foreign national’s service or contribution to the country in line with the “spirit and values of Mewar”. Dr. Paul T. Craddock, a scientist attached to the British Museum, was this year’s recipient.

Craddock has been studying early metallurgy in India, especially in the Zawar region, a mining township about 40 kilometres from Udaipur. Previous recipients of this award include journalist Sir Mark Tully and author V.S. Naipaul.

Edited excerpts:

When did you first hear of Zawar?

It must’ve been through the 1970s. I wrote my first big paper on brass (the alloy of copper and zinc) in 1978. By chance, I was introduced in London to a top person from Hindustan Zinc, and we talked about working together. Our first visit was in 1982, our first excavation in 1983. We came again in the 1990s. In the meantime, an awful lot of research was done in Zawar and at the British Museum.

How far back were you able to peg mining and smelting work in Zawar?

In the 4th century BC, Kautilya in the Arthashastra was already writing about how to establish a mine and mining community in hostile territory. This was around the time they were developing Agoocha (about 250 kilometres from Zawar). But then [activity there] crashed.

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