Indus Valley Civilization Built By Technically Advanced Ancient Tribe
The sophisticated Indus civilization flourished over four millennia ago spanning an area greater than that of ancient Egypt in what is now Pakistan and western India. They lived in well-planned cities and were known for the advanced use of wells, water storage and drainage systems. They domesticated animals, harvested crops and had their own writing system. Researchers believe it was the Asurs, now one of the most vulnerable tribes in central India, who built the ancient Indus Valley Civilization .
The Asur people are considered to be one of the oldest indigenous communities of India. They are the descendants of the Asur of the Mahabharat Age, and are one of the ancient metallurgist communities of the world. Their indigenous technology of iron smelting showed an extremely high level of sophistication and was interwoven with their rich culture and tradition. When smelting, the Asur women would sing a song relating the furnace producing good quality of iron, to an expectant mother giving birth to a healthy baby.
Nowadays, the Asur can be found in Jharkhand and West Bengal, typically living in very poor conditions like most of the other indigenous communities. They don’t have basic amenities like healthcare, drinking water, and education, and Bauxite mining in their area has caused many issues related to livelihood, pollution, and health. These days, a small number of Asur are fighting to preserve their history & culture.
Despite the fact that there are only around 8,000 Asur people remaining, they are the only tribe in the world today with knowledge of how to extract iron from laterite rocks, while everywhere else it is extracted from hematite and magnetite.
An Asur man at work. Photo credit: Nitish Priyadarshi
A research report produced last year by Ashis Sinha, research scholar and local journalist, highlighted that the origin of the Asurs is indicated in many places in ancient Indian literature, like the Rigveda and Upanishads.
“The Asurs of 12 B.C. were the greatest. They established the Mohenjodaro and Harappan Civilizations. They were tall and Herculean in their builds,” the report said.
It is believed that the Asurs used their unique metallurgical knowledge to build the famous Ashoka Iron pillar at Delhi, which is famous for its purity and even exceeds that of modern smelting methods. The pillar shows little sign of corrosion, despite being almost completely pure iron.
Sinha explained that many other famous ancient iron monuments, like the iron pillar at Dhar and Iron beam at Konark, as well as Damascus steel, are attributed to Asur metallurgical skills.
It is incredible to consider that this now dwindling group of Asur people were once the great builders of an ancient era, but more than that, it is frightening to contemplate the possibility that the database of indigenous knowledge held only within their minds and memories, may one day be extinguished.