Lead ingots from a shipwreck Off Poompuhar, Tamil Nadu, East Coast of India: evidence for overseas trade and their significance

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Abstract

Various types of lead ingots have been reported from a number of shipwrecks from different parts of the world. In 1991 exploration of a wreck off Poompuhar, Tamil Nadu, East Coast of India, at a depth of 19 m yielded a gun, rudder gudgeon, gunpowder boxes and a variety of lead ingots. The most significant ingots are those marked W: Blackett and D with a crown symbol on the obverse and 1791, 1792 and some merchant marks on the reverse. These are similar to Blackett lead ingots found in England, the Netherlands and Sumatra. Pb-isotopic analysis has revealed their source as the North Pennine lead mines of England. Further, the lead used was of high purity -93%. Records show that Blackett was a well-known lead-exporting company in England since 1694. The wreck off Poompuhar may be a Toni type cargo ship carrying traded lead ingots of different manufacturers.

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