Field

Iron-smelting and deforestation: an alternative ethnoarchaeological perspective

INTRODUCTION
It has long been assumed that there is a direct relationship between pre-industrial iron-smelting and large-scale deforestation. The general argument is that pre-industrial bloomery iron production depended on the consumption of huge quantities of charcoal, which over several centuries denuded the forest cover and depleted sources of wood for making charcoal. This led to a significant transformation of the landscape, ecology and environment in several regions where iron-smelting was widely prevalent. Iron-smelting was seen as one of the main agents of deforestation, desiccation and environmental change in West Africa (Goucher 1981, Haaland 1985), continental Europe and the British Isles, and recently, India (Sivramkrishna 2009). An overwhelming rate of charcoal consumption by several iron-works was responsible for adversely affecting the forest cover in different parts of pre-revolutionary United States (Muntz 1960). Due to the lack of high-grade coal deposits, charcoal is still widely used in the iron and steel industries of Brazil which is adversely affecting the ecology of the Amazonian region (Kato, Demarini et al. 2005).

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Field, Identity

Mudda Kammari: the homogenization of craft and identity among the iron-smelters of Telangana

I am from Kammari Jati…we were Mudda Kammaris. Now we don’t do that work so we only do Kammar-pani (blacksmithing). We’re also Viswabrahmin caste. we are BCB (Backward Classes Category B)–Kammari, Kanchari (bronzesmith), Ausala (goldsmith/silversmith), wadla (carpenters) and the stone workers.

INTRODUCTION
The above quote by Desaradi Bakkaiah (pseudonym), the son of an iron-smelter-turned-village blacksmith, represents the complex (and often confusing) layers of identity of the iron-workers in present-day northern Telangana. Although the iron-smelters of northern Telangana I met during my Ph.D. fieldwork suggested that they belong to the Kammari (village blacksmith) community, which in-turn was a “sub-caste” of the Viswabrahmin caste, their claims to a mainstream Kammari identity was often disputed by the traditional village blacksmiths of the area.

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