Page:Pre-Aryan Tamil Culture.djvu/9

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The Copper Age in North India

There is some evidence that there was a copper age in some parts of Northern India, which preceded the iron age there. Implements composed of practically pure copper have been found at several sites in Northern India, chiefly in the Upper Ganges Valley. Besides, at Gungeriah in the Balaghat District of the Central Provinces has been found a board, which according to Sir John Evans … is the most important discovery of instruments of copper yet recorded in the old world. In 1870 no less than 424 hammered copper implements, made of practically pure metal, weighing collectively 829 pounds, and 102 thin silver plates were discovered there. The copper. implements are extremely varied in form, principally consisting of flat. celts of many different shapes. There are also many long crowbar-like instruments with an expanded lunette-shaped chisel edge at the lower end, which may be designated as 'bar-celts'. The silver objects are all laminæ about the thickness of ordinary paper, comprising two classes, viz., circular disks and 'bull's' heads. The Gungeria deposits although found south of the Narbada River, is clearly to be associated by reason of its contents with Northern India.'[1] The Upper Ganges Valley was the home of the Arya cult in ancient days. Hence copper became a holy metal in that cult; copper knives were used in some sacramental acts, e.g., marking cattle's ears,[2] hence copper vessels to Brahmanas even to-day possess ceremonial purity which bronze and iron vessels do not possess and are used for holding consecrated water during ceremonial worship. Not so outside the Arya cult, where copper is not considered holier than iron, for it was not discovered earlier than the black metal in South India.

Iron Age Antiquities

Tools of various shapes have been recovered from the graves of this period. From one site on the Shevaroys in the Salem District Foote got 'a large axe, a very fine bill-hook of large size with its handle in one piece, a sharp sword and two javelin heads made with tangs instead of sockets.'[3] From another site were got 'axe-heads, spear heads and fragments of blades of large knives or small swords. The iron axe-heads had a broad butt unlike a very good one (found in another place, which had) a very taper butt end expanding into a rather leaf-shaped blade. The method of fastening the iron axe-heads to their helves would seem to have been that adopted nowadays or certainly not very long ago, namely, of inserting the butt-end of the axe-head into a cleft in a piece of hard wood with a couple of rings and a wedge to tighten the hold of the helve. The rings are placed on either side of the butt end, and the wedge is driven tightly through the ring spaces and prevents the axe-head from slipping; but the lower end also prevents the cleft in the helve from extending downwards.'[4] The shapes of the bill-hooks and some other tools of the

  1. J. Coggin Brown, op. cit. p. 10.
  2. Lohita Svadhiti, Ath. Ved., vi. 141, 2.
  3. Foote, op. cit., p. 62.
  4. Ibid., p. 63., Cf. the way in which the blades of spades, maṇveṭṭi, are furnished with handles now.