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Ancient sugarcane crusher unearthed in Aligarh

The archaeology department of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has excavated a "stone sugarcane crusher" of the late medieval period.

According to Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir of AMU's history department, the huge stone object was unearthed during excavation of agricultural land in Dhanipur village in the district.

"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 the art of extracting sugarcane juice to make jaggery and sugar since ancient times," he explained.

He said that the sugar industry progressed greatly in medieval India.

Irfan Habib, professor emeritus, AMU, has written in his Economic History of Medieval India (1200 A.D.-1500 A.D.), that "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 sub-continent. 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 the gear mechanism, which enabled the conversion of circular motion in vertical and was used in water lifting devices, sugarcane industry and the oil pressing industry.

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