| Crucibles, copper ingot and iron slag found at the site. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Calcutta, March 18: Excavations at Tilpi in South 24-Parganas have unearthed a wealth of proof that it was once thickly populated by industrious and self-sufficient people.
Tilpi is the twin site of Dhosa in Joynagar, around 50 km from Calcutta. Artefacts and structural evidences found during excavations at Dhosa suggest that a stupa existed there in the 2nd and 1st century BC.
Goutam Sengupta, Bengal?s director of archaeology and museums, said eight hearths for smelting metals have been found in Tilpi.
Speaking from the site, state archaeology department supervisor Amal Roy added that the four hearths discovered on March 18 were at a slightly lower level than the four found on the surface level. The trenches have now reached a depth of almost 2 metres. The hearths measure between 50 cm and 80 cm and are around 30 cm high.
These hearths ?are typical of the early historic era, roughly 2nd century BC, and strewn around them are crucibles, charcoal fragments, copper ingots and punchmarked and cast-copper coins. The small crucibles, measuring 2.5 cm, may have been used to melt metals like silver and copper while the larger ones (8 cm) for iron.?
A large clay jar fixed to the ground near a hearth was probably used to store water used by the smiths, said Roy.
Archaeo-metallurgist Pranab K. Chattopadhyay of the Centre for Archaeological Studies and Training, eastern India, confirmed the importance of the Tilpi find as the single instance in the region where all evidences of the indigenous smelting and casting processes are seen together.
The coins are being tested for bronze, which would prove that the residents of Tilpi knew how to combine metals in various proportions. ?High-tin-bronze or kansha was in use between the 2nd century BC and 2nd century AD as evident from Chandraketugarh,? said Chattopadhyay.
The source of raw material can be found only after further analysis but scholars feel the metals were brought from areas like Midnapore or Jharkhand.