[INDOLOGY] Experimental Archaeology and ancient India

Jan E.M. Houben jemhouben at gmail.com
Tue Jun 11 21:19:18 UTC 2013

Dear List Members,

Experimental archaeology has been widely used to test hypotheses in
archaeological interpretation. A famous case is Thor Heyerdahl’s balsa raft
Kon-Tiki. A special type concerns archaeometallurgy. The term is also used
in connection with data in the history of science such as Leonardo Da
Vinci’s designs of a parachute and a tank.

Wikipedia pages on experimental archaeology and experimental
archaeometallurgy and several examples:

These two webpages give NO EXAMPLE from Indian archaeology and history.

Now my question:
Is this absence accidental or has experimental archaeology indeed little
importance in the study of Indian antiquity?

The closest we get to an Indian case according to these wikipedia pages is
“Attempts to manufacture steel that matches all the characteristics of
Damascus steel” ... “including ... reconstructions ... of the Sri Lanka
furnaces at Samanalawewa.”

In this connection I am searching for a pdf of Harry Falk’s 1994
"Copper Hoard Weapons and the Vedic vajra" which if I remember correctly
contains a reference to a reconstructed vajra.
Proc. of the Twelfth Int. Conf. of the European Ass. of South Asian
Archaeologists held in Helsinki University 5-9 July 1993. Ed. by A. Parpola
and P. Koskikallio. Vol. I, pp. 193-206.

In many domains experimental archaeology COULD be imagined to be quite
- seafaring with primitive vessels?
- earliest minting technologies in India (esp. Taxila and NW India)?
- do the ingredients in preparing the mahavira vessel contribute to its
capacity to undergo extreme circumstances of heat and pressure?
etc etc

Are there any (or even many?) well-attested examples of such experiments
having already been done?

Any reference, pdf etc. will be greatly appreciated.

Jan Houben

Prof. Dr. Jan E.M. Houben,
Directeur d Etudes « Sources et Histoire de la Tradition Sanskrite »
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, SHP,
A la Sorbonne,45-47, rue des Ecoles,
75005 Paris -- France.
JEMHouben at gmail.com

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