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5. CHEMISTRY

Ancient India’s Development in Chemistry was not confined at an abstract level like Physics, but found development in a variety of practical activities.

In any Early Civilization, Metallurgy has remained an activity central to all Civilizations from the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, to all other Civilizations that followed. It is believed that the Basic Idea of Smelting Reached Ancient India from Mesopotamia and the Near East. In Ancient India, the Science of Smelting reached a high level of Refinement and Precision. In the 5th Century BC, the Greek Historian Herodotus has observed that Indian and the Persian Army used Arrows Tipped with Iron. Ancient Romans were using Armour and Cutlery made of Indian Iron.

In India itself, certain objects testify to the higher level of Metallurgy achieved by the Ancient Indians. By the side of Qutub Minar, a World Heritage Site, in Delhi, stands an Iron Pillar. The Pillar is believed to be Cast in the Gupta Period around Circa 500 AD. The Pillar is 7.32 Meters Tall, Tapering from a Diameter of 40 cm at the base to 30 cm at the top and is estimated to Weigh 6 Tonnes. It has been standing in the open for last 1500 Years, withstanding the Wind, Heat and Weather, but still has not rusted, except very minor natural erosion. This kind of Rust Proof Iron was not possible till Iron and Steel was discovered few decades before.

The Advance Nature of Ancient India’s Chemical Science also finds Expression in other Fields, like Distillation of Perfumes and Fragment Ointments, Manufacturing of Dyes & Chemicals, Polishing of Mirrors, Preparation of Pigments and Colours. Paintings found on walls of Ajanta and Ellora (both World Heritage Sites) which look fresh even after 1000 years, also testify to the High Level of Chemical Science achieved in Ancient India.

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