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Gupta Period – Industry: Mining and Metallurgy

  • Mining and metallurgy was one of the most flourishing industries during the Gupta period.
  • Amarasimha, Varahamihira and Kalidasa make frequent mention of the existence of mines.
  • The rich deposits of iron ore from Bihar and copper from Rajasthan were mined extensively during this period.
  • The list of metals used apart from iron were gold, copper, tin, lead, brass, bronze, bell- metal, mica, manganese, antimony, red chalk (sanssilajata) and red arsenic.
  • Blacksmiths were next only to agriculturists in importance in the society.
  • Metal was used for the manufacture of various domestic implements, utensils and weapons.
  • The improvement in the ploughshare, with the discovery of iron, for deep ploughing and for increasing cultivation happened during this period.
  • The most important and visible evidence of the high stage of development in metallurgy is the Mehrauli Iron Pillar of Chandragupta II in the Qutb Minar Complex in Delhi, identified with Chandragupta II.
  • This monolith iron pillar has lasted through the centuries without rusting. It is a monument to the great craftsmanship of the iron workers during the Gupta period.
  • Coin casting, metal engraving, pottery making, terracotta work and wood carving were other specialised crafts.
  • A significant development of the period in metal technology was the making of the seals and statutes of Buddha and other gods.
  • It was laid down that the people had to pay for the wastage in the process of smelting of iron, gold, silver, copper, tin and lead.

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