Copper Smelting Slags at Ingaldhal Mines, Karnataka: Early Historic Satavahana Links

Abstract

The study of old mining sites from archaeometallurgical perspectives is an area which is still not systematically undertaken in the Indian context. Whereas geological survey reports, both present and past going back to British geological reports, have generally taken care to report old workings, the finds of archaeometallurgical slag heaps have not merited that much attention. This paper reports the explorations into finds of old workings for copper mining in the region of Ingaldhal, Karnataka. A slag heap was also indentified in the vicinity, with russet coloured ware associated with the early historic Satavahana period. Analyses of the slags confirmed them to be from copper smelting, very likely from sulphide ores. Given that some old timbers from the Ingaldhal mine have yielded carbon dates of the 1–2nd century, this is consistent with the notion that copper could have been mined and smelted from this region by at least the early historic Satavahana period. Given that inscriptional records of early mining activity are not very common; such field-based investigations assume greater importance in piecing together the probable historical trajectories.

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Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Chitradurga Copper Unit of Hutti Gold Mines and Mr. Fahim Khan for the support in visiting Ingaldhal old workings, late Dr B. P. Radhakrishna, Geological Society of India, Bangalore, late C.S Patil, Directorate of Archaeology, Mysore, and the Institute of Archaeology, London, Dr J. Merkel, H. Bachmann, Bochum Mining Museum and late N. Seeley for support in the investigations.

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Correspondence to Sharada Srinivasan.

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Srinivasan, S. Copper Smelting Slags at Ingaldhal Mines, Karnataka: Early Historic Satavahana Links. Trans Indian Inst Met 70, 541–546 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12666-016-1013-6

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Keywords

  • Timber
  • Chalcopyrite
  • Galena
  • Malachite
  • Copper Smelting