Tin (Ancient India's Contribution)

Klaus Karttunen KJKARTTU at elo.Helsinki.fi
Tue Jun 17 16:08:16 UTC 1997

Thu, 12 Jun 1997 Dominique.Thillaud wrote:
>At 6:49 +0200 12/06/97, sudheer birodkar wrote:
>>- the making of tin (the technical English word for tin
>>is Cassiterite which is derived from the Sanskrit term
>>"Kasthira" according to the Oxford Dictionary).
>	That's highly improbable. The Indian word for tin is trapu (AV) and
>kastIra, appearing only in lexicography, is borrowed from the Greek
>kassiteros (Hom.), perhaps via the Latin cassiterum. According are
>Mayrhofer (KEWA) and Chantraine (DELG). (Eurindian common origin is
>impossible, the Greek 'k' is palatalized in Sanskrit)
>	Regards,
>Dominique THILLAUD
>Universite' de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France
A few years ago I was pointed out by the late Dr. Claes Wennerberg of 
Gothenburg that there is actually one text reference for kastIra, in 
Jagaddeva's "Traumbuch" (ed. Negelein). But this is late, too, and it 
has been suggested (by Kern or Speyer, I think) that kastIra was 
actually derived from Arabic. The unfortunate preference for kastIra as 
ancient word and perhaps even as origin of Greek kassiteros hails from 
the pioneers of Western Indology, but is occasionally still quoted 
through some uncritical intermediaries (see my India in Early Greek 
Literature). As noted by Dominique, the real Indian word is trapu (cf. 
Rau, Metalle). The origin of Greek kassiteros is not clear, but in any 
case Greeks obtained their tin from the West, not from India where the 
metal seems always been scarce. In early Roman period the Periplus 
actually mentions tin and lead among imports of India.

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