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Vol 89, October 2008 9

D Bhattacharya is with Odissi Research Laboratory,

Bhubaneswar 751 002 and P C Naik is with the Rural Institute of
Science and Education, Kendrapada 754 250.
This paper was received on March 18, 2008. Written discussion on this
paper will be entertained upto December 31, 2008.
Archaeometry : A Glimpse into History of Ancient Indian
Engineering Science
D Bhattacharya, Non-member
P C Naik, Non-member
Elevation measurements of curvilinear spires require trigonometry or theodolite . The Orissan curvilinear
spire have in-built elements that allow application of a combination of linear arithmetic and geometry for
elevation measurement. They also offer surfaces for application of equations pertaining to smooth
mobious curves of various pitches. Khapuri anla ( Ka ) and bhumi anla ( Ba ) are two such elements which
are exclusive to the kalingiya school. Using this elements the height can be estimated in any units at day
or night without physically measuring any elevation, without using any instrument. Curvilinear spire
celebrates ancient science and may have been used as a model for instruction of computational subjects
pertaining to elevation, altitude, etc. The study articulates theme specific archaeometry.
Keywords : Elevation; Bakrakara; Cordant methodology; Inbuilt Elements; Archaeometry
Elevation calculation has drawn the attention of human
mind since ancient times. In India, ancient mathematician
and astronomers have done pioneering work
Mahamahopadhyya Samanta Chandrasekhar
of Orissa used embryonic theodolite (proto theodolite) to
measure heights of mountains and hills from very wide
distances. He even measured elevation of astral bodies
Samanta's exploits are house hold legend in Orissa
, who
was the last great exponent of the school of naked eye
astronomy. Orissa is also home to a tome of well preserved
palm leaf manuscripts relating to mathematics and
. Kalinga is a historical entity with present
Bhubaneswar (Ekamra), asits the then proven capital
Adherence to curvilinear type of architecture having
prominent vertical lines in such historical geography, makes
it as the home grown school, herein after called as the
kalingiya bakrakar rekha deula (KBRD) (Kalingan curvilinear
line temples). Within earstwhile Kalinga, KBRDs are
concentrated in and around Bhubaneswar within 100 km
radius. In present day, Orissa KBRDs are noted from
historical period when no other term other than Kalinga is
encountered in local epigraphs
. Although KBRDs are
noted in few other sites outside Orissa, they are either of
Kalingan historical process or of later period. Hence the
term Kalinga is adopted. The earliest cognate group of
temples in Orissa are ancient structure and 90% temples
belonging to this group are KBRDs. In Orissa, all high rise
structures of all historical periods are KBRD.
M M Ganguly
had opined that KBRD was a learned
exercise in engineering. While discussing on architectural
and engineering aspects of ancient hindu edifices, A K
has opined that they are well developed
concepts, which encouraged to enquire into the so called
erstwhile 'learned exercise' and 'well developed concepts',
which all have remained unexplored and unexplained so far.
Elevation measurement and architechtural outline (surface
angulation) are an important and interesting exercise in
modern engineering, that are synonymous with
In the domain of Hindu mathematics, geometric progression
was discussed by Mahavira
. Further, N K Basu
extensively to locally sourced palm leaf manuscripts and
books etched in Nagari and Oriya script and has provided for
the first time similar arithmetic fractals which concurrently
allowed geometric progression as are employed by
sthapatis of KBRDs. Citing other palm leaf manuscripts, V
was the first to indicate schematically geometric
fractals in the base plan of KBRDs. By applying pure
mathematics, fractals have been studied in natural cycles,
in pyramidal forms and in mechanical engineering
. K
reported fractals from among major Hindu schools
of temple architecture. Currently, elaborate use of
instruments are noted in all elevation measurement and
computational exercises. The KBRDs are denoted as steep
structures sans stair case, which results negligible data
about elevation and measures of KBRDs, that is
encountered in published literature.
Neither it has been tried to explain the applied meaning of
various abstract inbuilt elements as are noted on a KBRD,
nor any attempt has been made so far to explain as to why
the treaties, the canons, the often quoted shilpasastras (the
term Shilpasastras reveals tenets of industry, where editions
of various dates from many regions of Orissa have been
reported. At past, structural erection was considered as a
10 IE(I) Journal-AR
shilpa, and the master craftsmen always refer to anguli
(1.04166 cm) of the siddhanta system
as the unit of
measure for all radian, horizontal, vertical fractions and in
iconometry, Siddhanta implies ancient Hindu school of
Astronomy and Mathematics
1,2,6,19 and 20
. As per this
school. 1 angula is the breadth of middle finger at mid level.
Therefore, possibility of a inbuilt scheme, scope of
application of the in-built elements and inter-relation
between in-built elements and angula or any unit of measure
remained unrevealed. This study address all these aspects.
Applying first time the interdisciplinary approach for this
exploratory study, two methodologies are used, by which
the ancient kalingiya sthapati (kalingan builder) could have
accurately measured the height of a KBRD using any unit,
without using any instrument, neither by climbing the spire
nor by using any parallel structure or shadow projection
methodology. Relevance of anguli as the unit of measure
has also been dealt upon. Moreover few mobius surface
related aspects have also been touched fleetingly.
It involves marking the length of any given measure (control)
on ground, holding the control in vertical position to
ground and observe the length of the shadow as cast by
a rising or setting sun. When shadow length equals the
measure of the control, at that very moment the length
of the shadow as cast by the object of interest (spire) has
to be marked on the ground. The measure of the shadow
from its tip to the base of the object of interest (monument)
along the line of inclination would also be equal to the
elevation of the object of interest. This method was known
to Indian astronomers and mathematicians since very
ancient times
19, 20
. The principle involved in this method is
that when the object is vertical to the base, the sun (light
source from infinity) forms 45
angle to the ground. At this
moment all shadows measure equal of its object. Projection
method has inherent short comings, as two teams would
be needed for tall structures and readings can only be taken
twice a day. Such window is only of few seconds duration.
Clear sky condition is a must, that means no such
exercise is possible during monsoon. This method does not
open any new window into history of science. However, this
method can be applied for any structure anywhere with any
unit of measurement.
It is necessary to acquaint with the terms, morphology,
position of placement of the relevant in-built elements of a
KBRD on which rests the formula herein enunciated.
These include ayudha, khapuri anla, dikpal, sesa bhumi
anla and raha paga. Ayudha means 'pinnacle signature \
insignia'. Ayudha (Ay) is noted on temple's top, Khapuri anal
(Ka) which is just below Ayudha, means 'cranium rib',
succeded by dikpala which means 'maintainer of direction',
also known as jodisingha which means 'jointed lion', which
are placed at four corners below the Ka, the lions look out
into the horizon. Jodisingha (jointed lion) alias dikpala
(maintainer of direction) have common head and a pair of
body stretched at 90
to each other. They look out at
Aisanya, Nairitya, Agni & Vayu corners of the siddhanta
school, which indeed are direction markers. A series of five
bhumi anla are noted along the vertical plane on the koni
paga which means elevation rib and corner arrangement
respectively. Sesa bhumi anla means the last zone of
elevation. Khapuri & bhumi (zone/elevation) refers to wholly
abstract devices, haveing no religious , social or sovereign
related connotation, consists of some art and aesthetic
value, which relates wholly to engineering and
computational sciences, not noted in other schools of built
heritage. The ribbed pattern on Khapuri and bhumi is called
anla as it is a look like of the medicinal fruit emblica
merabolum. The raha paga projects out of the spire's side
wall tapering at top, which means buttress arrangement, it is
a engineering item that counters the horizontal component
of the thrust. Figure 1 shows the front elevation of Sri
Parasurameswar temple (650 AD), which also is the best
KBRD example of the earliest cognate group on sub-
Figure 1 Parasurameswar temple
Figure 2 Siddheswara (Mukteswar) temple
Vol 89, October 2008 11
continental basis. This study is limited to only the vimana,
ie, the deula (spire). Figure 2 shows the view of the koni
bhumi anla (corner elevation rose) in the neighbouring
Siddheswara (Mukteswar) temple (9
AD). The
Parasurameswar, Siddheswar, Lingaraj and Jagannath are
Raj dutta kirtis and also state sponsored structures.
Field study reveals that KBRD in situ presents unique
angular positions to the beholder when the pinnacle is
visualised by naked eye from base. This allows plotting of
four exclusive reference points on base off each corner
when the line of vision runs from base to top along the
central rib of any one of the sesa bhumi anla - the nose tip
of dikpala - one rib of the Ka into the Ay, ie, A1, S1, D1,
K1, Y and B1, S2, K2, Y are cordant as shown in Figure 3.
In spires of post 9
AD, only three of the four elements are
apparent to the beholder. Since S and D series are available
only at the corners of any KBRD, four corner positions are
arrived and on base located diagonal to koni paga in KBRDs.
The separation between any two such position is the
measure of the deula's elevation. This methodology holds
good for any KBRD of any historical period including Sri
Lingaraj temple and Sri Jagannath Temple. It is termed as
cordant formula CF1a.
When viewers position is tangent and centrally located to
any of the raha paga, a position C is obtained on base
when Ay is visualized along the top curvature of the khapuri
in line with the paired rib of the Ka. In any KBRD, the paired
ribs on any side also marks the vertical mid line of the side
wall, which is also the mid line of the raha paga. The position
where such vertical mid line touches the base is marked as
E. The measure between E and C equals deula's elevation
and is identical to the measure obtained as per CF1a which
is shown in Figure 3 and Figure 4. Since this scheme holds
good for KBRDs during all the historical periods, it is termed
as CF1b. The base of the KBRD is inscribed within the
square of CF1a which is in turn inscribed within the
planispheric outline of CF1b, having different geometric and
spatial ratios. Furthermore, CF1a and CF1b are not noted in
non KBRDs.
By using in-built elements of built archaeology to determine
the elevation of the same archaeological member,
geometric patterns are obtained as shown in Figures 3 and
4. If the theme is changed based on viewer's position based
perspective, entirely different set of geometric patterns are
generated, which precludes that alternative themes are
possible. Since in-built elements of built archaeology are
useable on thematic basis to generate a wide spectrum of
metrical geometry, such new area is termed as
archaeometry, ie, geometry fuzzed from archaeology.
Figure 3 and Figure 4 are schematic presentation of such
thematic archaeometry, when Y and H are Ya. K1 and K2
are two designate ribs of the Ka. D1 and D2 are the nose
tips of the dikpala. S1 and S2 are the central ribs of the
sesa bhumi. C-A-R-B denotes the base. A and B mark
viewer's position off any corner as per CF1a. C marks
viewer's position tangent to the mid point of the raha paga off
base R as per CF1b, when C1, A1 and B1 are 376 mm which
reveals average Indian height. As shown in Figure 3, CH is
the gross elevation of 13.4 m and AB is also determined by
pole and tape method as determined by pole and tape
method from Figure 3 and Figure 4 are 13.4 m each. The
Kalingiya cordant formula ( KCF ) then is CH = AB = CR .
The elevation of Parasurameswar spire was physically
measured using tape along a erect pole that is the central
line as shown in Figure 5. Curvilinear outline was calculated
using standard mathematical formula and also physically
along the spire's curvature. The results conform findings as
in CF1a and CF1b, as shown in Table 1.
Ka being a circular device offers to the beholder 360
view. In case of Parasurameswar and Lingaraj temple, Ka
have 88 and 64 ribs respectively. If each rib be taken as the
point of reference for aligning the line of vision, a circle of
Figure 3 Schematic representation of Parasurameswar
temple Bhubaneswar c 650 AD
A1 B1
Figure 4 Geometric pattern of Parasurameswar temple
12 IE(I) Journal-AR
radian is arrived at a radial distance where the
hypotenuse (line of vision) meets the base (ground). Each
such point on the radial outline marks the horizontal
extension of the vertical line measured from spire's outer
base 'R' forming a right angled triangle, the vertical projection
of which coincides with the bindu (center point) of the
enshrined lingam which is positioned at the centre of the
garbha gruha (womb room) and the crowning ayudha (on
temple top). This makes a imaginary vertical EY or EH.
Infinite number of right angled triangles can be drawn with
one common vertical coinciding with central EY\EH line.
This is quiet well known that a pair of opposite triangles form
a cone. Hence imaginary cones having differing grids can
then be schematically drawn with the KBRD enmeshed at
its centre. Similarly infinite number of triangles can be drawn
enmeshed within each triangle that are aligned in a circular
format. The enmeshed triangles individually and in groups
describe elevations of various strata of the deula, apart
generating fractals that are different from Sierpinski
. KBRD presents a unique concept of fractal
hitherto unreported in built archaeology world wide. It also
makes an imaginary wheel with innumerable spokes with
the (KBRD) spire as its ornate axel. Since the structure is
curvilinear, the measure along the curvature equals the
measure of the hypotenuse. Therefore the hypotenuse,
AY,BY and CY in Figure 3 and CH in Figure 4 is also the
relative height/measure of the outline of the spire. Such
methodology simultaneously allows application of any unit
of measure. Figure 3 and Figure 4 schematically presents
such thematic archaeometry which holds good for all
KBRDs including Jagannath deula and in Kalingan rekha
type temples that are else where outside Orissa.
In the domain of pure mathematics, mobious surface
studies are a mathematician's tool
. Mobious architecture
is much sought after application of CAD in high speed
surface, water, marine and aero vehicles. Interestingly, the
candidate structures in the present study are also known as
Vimana (aero vehicle). Architectural outlines of KBRDs and
archaeometry generated from it jointly offer wide range of
smooth curves of various pitches as shown in Figure 6.
Curvilinear outline and Ay offer surfaces for non cyclic plain
arcs of finite and infinitesimal type
. Ribs of the Ka and Ba
offer repetitive arcs. KBRDs are therefore ideal ancient
models for mobious surface related studies in which Ka, Ba
and Ay once again exclusively come into full play. It is
interesting to note that the east-west curvature of the earth
at local latitude (20
) is approximately 15
which is a natural
selection. The curvilinear spire also have a identical
angulation. The ribs of the bhumi anlas also have a
separation of the order 15
. This results in least resistance
to wind and more importantly allows free play of breeze,
which results better moisture transpiration from and into the
stones, which thwarts erosion and instills longevity.
Maharana and Maharana who are the hereditary head
sthapatis of Sri Lingaraj temple and Sri Jagannath temple,
apply the unit of measure called kathi, that is equal to 40.64
cm. Further, the chariots are constructed till date as per the
model of Bhaskareswar (Bhubaneswar) using the same unit
of measure called kathi. Ownership of the kathi marked
them as sardar maharana (head master craftsman).
Experimentally it is found that 1 kathi is equal to 24 angulas.
Figure 5 Marked central line of the temple
Table 1 Validation of elevation
Name of Y height X distance tan , , , , ,
el ement f rom f rom = Y/X degrees
ground, m centre, m
Bada 51.2064 36.576 1.4 54.46
Bhumi 71.3232 " 1.95 62.85
Bhumi 88.0872 " 2.4 67.45
Bhumi 103.9368 " 2.84 70.61
Bhumi 117.9576 " 3.23 72.77
Bhumi 130.7592 " 3.57 74.37
Elevation upto fifth bhumi [A] = 130.759 m; Fifth bhumi upto Ayudha [B] =
29.2608 m, so A + B = 130.759 m + 29.2608 m = 160.02 m. The gross
angulation of the curvature is of the order 20
, which is also the value of
the local latitude.
Vol 89, October 2008 13
Using CF1a and CF1b, the spire of Parasurameswar works
out to 32 kathis (32 x 24 ) or 768 angulas. Lingaraj's spire
measures 136 kathis (136 x 24) or 3264 angulas.Kalpa
means 62 and radians are better calculable with angula as
it is a non rigid frame with a error component of a fraction
of 1 cm.
The in-built elements, ie, Ka and Ba are entirely abstract in
nature. They do not have any religious or sovereign related
connotation. Ka and Ba are exclusive elements of KBRD
school. If the theme is altered, archaeometry accordingly
produces corresponding set of valid results, which is not
possible without inbuilt abstract elements, their special
architecture and placement. This indeed is a marvelous and
intelligent concept. The term Kalinga means 'intelligent \
Kalinga Cordant Formula is Ka and Ba dependent. Elevation
of any KBRD can be calculated by using this formula. It
allows readings at any time in day or dark, using any unit.
This study indicates that use of applied mathematics and
Figure 6 Schematic presentation of Lingaraja temple's
geometry is possible with KBRDs as models. The deula as
a whole can be expressed as a field model in durable plastic
for large scale application of archaeometry. KBRDs
celebrates computational and related field science as
achieved in past. The KBRD is not a mere load structure. It
celebrates science and is a almanac of history of Indian
construction mathematics, geometry and engineering.
Angula as the common unit of measure appears pragmatic
as it would have allowed greater flexibility to workers of all
strata on any plastic. Strong prevalence of use of angula
in treaties and among practicing craftsmen is vindicated.
Such findings are new and provides a window into the
history of science in ancient India on the bed rock of dated
The authors are thankful to Late Shankar Maharana,
Somnath Maharana, Deula sevaits (servitors) namely Shri T
K Samantaray, Shri D Samantaray, M K Batu, B K Batu,
B Samartha, et al, for preparing this study. Dr S Maiti,
Superintendent, Mr P K Mahapatra, A.S.I. and their work
men helped in validating the measure of vertical elevation at
Parasurameswar and Mukteswar. The authors are also
thankful to Shri S P Gantayat, Engineer-in-Chief cum
Secretary, Govt. of Orissa and Prof S K Misra, Architecture
dept, University College of Engineering and Technology-
BPUT for technical review and field validation. The authors
are also thankful to Shri T Sahu for generating the line
graphs. Research grant received from Shri A B Goswamy
(PE), Texas, USA is most gratefully acknowledged. The
authors are also thankful to Ms M Bhattacharya.
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