Dr. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, archaeologist extraordinaire, visits IIT Gandhinagar.

Dr. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer has recently joined IIT Gandhinagar (IITGN) as a Scholar-in-Residence in the Archaeology discipline. He has been teaching archaeology and ancient technology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison since 1985, and served as Field Director and Co-Director of the Harappa Archaeological Research Project. His main focus lies in the Indus Valley Civilization and he has worked in both India and Pakistan, as well as in other adjacent regions such as Oman and China. His work has been featured in the National Geographic Magazine and Scientific American and on the website www.harappa.com. A pioneer in experimental archaeology, he has recreated many Harappan Civilization Technologies using traditional methods. Also, he has recreated Harappan stone beads, seals, pottery, copper mirrors, stoneware bangles and other artefacts.

India has been reputed for its iron and steel since ancient times, and steel from India rated as some of the finest in the world and was traded across the world. The fame of steel from India is well captured in the words of the Arab Edrisi (a 12th century traveller), who said, “The Hindus excel in the manufacture of iron and it is impossible to find anything to surpass the edge from Hinduwani (Indian) steel.” Credit goes to India for developing complex metallurgy and producing alloys. This reveals the metallurgical skills which artisans of ancient India possessed, but somewhere this traditional way has been lost. Prof. Kenoyer took steps to recreate the metals in the same way as it used to be in the ancient times. One of the objectives of his current visit to IITGN is to recreate Harappan technologies in copper ore smelting. For this, he collected copper ore from the Ambaji mines, Gujarat, which he then sorted and segregated, and used them to smelt in a traditionally built furnace at the IITGN Palaj Campus. He also put up a tent on the area near the road joining our hostels and the academic blocks, where he set up his traditionally built furnace. The students got very excited and visited his tent many times to see what he was doing, and how.

Due to Prof. Kenoyer’s visit, we learnt a lot about the Indian archaeology and the ancient ways of smelting ore. His immense knowledge about the Indus Valley Civilization and ancient archaeology mesmerized all students and encouraged them to pursue a career in this domain. He is one of the world’s leading experts on the Ancient Indus Valley Civilization, and at the same time speaks Urdu, Hindi, and Bengali fluently. I found myself very lucky as I got an opportunity to meet this amazing person, and got a glimpse of Indian archaeology and methodologies that were followed during the ancient times. Interacting with such a humble and knowledgeable person is one of the richest experience of mine that I got here at IITGN.

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