I r o n and steel, the backbone of modern western civilization, were of relatively little importance even in Europe before the Industrial Revolution, and their place in the life of ancient Asia was no larger. In India, steel was used for weapons, for decorative purposes and for tools, and remarkably high-grade articles were produced. The old weapons are second to none and it is said that the famous damascus blades were forged from steel imported from Hyderabad in India.1 The famous iron column, called the Kutab pillar, at Delhi, weighs over six tons and carries an epitaph com­ posed about 415 a .d .2 No one yet understands how so large a forging could have been produced at that time. Remains of old smelting furnaces found throughout India are essentially like those in Europe prior to modern times.3 Compared with a modern country, India had very little iron, but it was produced in widely scattered communities.