Dates of non-meteoric iron in India

Steve Farmer saf at SAFARMER.COM
Wed Jun 21 06:21:46 UTC 2000

I've often seen c. 1200 BCE reported as the putative date for the
introduction of iron into India. How well grounded, in fact, is this
date? What methods were used in arriving at it? Can someone point me
to some recent detailed discussions? The little I know concerns the
exploitation of ore deposits nearly a millennium later, in the Mauryan period.

One reason I'm asking the question is because recent work by Don
Wagner (for some bibliography, see
redates the arrival of non-meteoric iron in China to a surprisingly
late period -- c. 600 BCE. This makes me curious as to whether the
traditional c. 1200 BCE date for India isn't way too early. I run into
the same question when I think of the curious mix of bronze and iron
culture still evident in the Homeric corpus, whose final redaction
came in the second quarter of the first millennium BCE. (The exact
dates are still disputed, but the tendency is to move them towards the
middle of the millennium; even more radical moves forward in dating
are taking place in China.) In Central Asia, the older literature puts
the arrival of iron at c. 800 BCE, but I don't yet know what more
recent scholarly trends are like there.

In any event, the dates in India are obviously critical due to the
part they continue to play in dating Vedic sources. I'd very much like
to take a look at the evidence. Can someone point me to the most
recent scholarly studies?

Thanks in advance,
Steve Farmer

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