[INDOLOGY] Experimental Archaeology and ancient India

Dean Michael Anderson eastwestcultural at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 12 05:23:05 UTC 2013

Mark Kenoyer at U Wisconsin at Madison has done a lot of work in this area.



--- On Wed, 6/12/13, Jan E.M. Houben <jemhouben at gmail.com> wrote:

From: Jan E.M. Houben <jemhouben at gmail.com>
Subject: [INDOLOGY] Experimental Archaeology and ancient India
To: "indology at list.indology.info" <indology at list.indology.info>
Date: Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 2:49 AM

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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experimental_archaeology#cite_ref-4
and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experimental_archaeometallurgy
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 useful: 
- 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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