Wrought and quenched, and cast high-tin bronzes to Kerala State, India

Publication Type:

Journal Article


The Journal of the Historical Metallurgy Society, Historical Metallurgy Society, Volume 29, Number 2, p.69–87 (1995)




Binary high-tin bronze alloys have been recorded in SE Asian antiquity, and it had been reasonable to regard known Indian examples as imports from tin-rich SE Asia due to the scarcity of tin in India. However, this paper puts forth new evidence of ancient and surviving high-tin bronze working in the Indian subcontinent. It challenges the above assumption and indicates that the indigenous development of high-tin bronze working, and exploitation of the sparse tin deposits in ancient India, cannot be ruled out. Surviving traditions from Kerala in South India are documented of the manufacture of vessels and instruments of wrought and quenched high-tin bronze, and mirrors of cast high-tin bronze. New metallurgical evidence is presented for the continuous use of artefacts of high-tin bronze in the subcontinent from the 1st millennium BC to the present day, particularly in South India, which is corroborated by literacy and iconographic evidence from the historical period.


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