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Times of india
May 28, 2020 at 8:00:00 PM
Mughal-era stone sugar mill unearthed by AMU team

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Mughal-era stone sugar mill unearthed by AMU team

Agra: The archaeology section of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has excavated a “stone sugarcane crusher or mill” belonging to the late medieval period. According to officials, the huge stone object was unearthed during excavation of agricultural land in Dhanipur village. Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir of AMU’s history department told TOI, “The stone object appeared to be a stone sugar mill or a sugarcane crusher. The length of the discovered object is approx. 3.75 metres and its diameter is 2.6 metres. During the medieval period, sugarcane crushers were made of two parts — mortar and pestle.” “Indians knew extracting sugarcane juice to make jaggery and sugar since ancient times. It involved some technology consisting of technical devices,” said Pundhir. Sugar industry progressed greatly during medieval India. Irfan Habib, professor emeritus, AMU, has written in his Economic History of Medieval India (1200–1500), “Sugar mills appeared in India shortly before the Mughal era. Evidence for the use of a draw bar for sugar-milling appears at Delhi in 1540, but may also date back earlier, and was mainly used in the northern Indian subcontinent. Geared sugar rolling mills first appeared in Mughal India, using the principle of rollers as well as worm gearing, by the 17th century.” Abul Fazl in his Ain-e-Akbari describes various techniques used in Mughal-era karkhanas (workshops). One of them was gearmechanism, which enabled the conversion of circular motion in vertical and was used in water lifting devices, sugarcane industry, oil pressing industry etc. In another instance, Fazl calculated that white sugar cost about three times the price of rice and the price of brown sugar was almost the equivalent. This was much lower as compared to sugar prices at the time in west Asia and Europe. Sugar making was mainly spread in Gangetic doab, Bengal, Gujarat and Punjab. Arab entrepreneurs adopted sugar production techniques from India which eventually reached Europe too. In fact, the English word sugar comes from the French sucre, Latin seachrum, Arabic sukkar, Persian schkar, which in turn comes from Sanskrit sharkara. Among many other things, Shah Jahan’s recipe book Nuskhah-yi Shah Jahani has an interesting account of how the world’s largest sugar lump was produced once in the imperial kitchen.
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