Prof. Sharada Srinivasan
B. Tech., 1987, Engineering Physics

Professor Sharada Srinivasan is a Professor in the National Institute of Advanced Studies, IISc Campus, Bengaluru. She obtained B. Tech. degree in Engineering Physics from IIT Bombay in 1987, Masters from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London with Distinction in 1989 and Ph.D. degree from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London in 1996 in the Department of Conservation and Materials Science in Archaeometallurgy on a ODA and British Council Chevening Scholarship with laboratory work also at Oxford Research Laboratory for Art and Archaeology.

Professor Sharada Srinivasan joined the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru (NIAS) in 2001 working on ancient mining, archaeometallurgy and archaeological sciences. She is on the Standing Committee of the International Conference of the Beginning of the Use of Metals and Alloys. She received grants from DST-SERC Young Scientist and Nurture Scheme, IFA, UKIERI, AHRC, Royal Society-DST Networking Scheme UK, SSHRC Canada, and National Science Foundation, USA.

She was Forbes Research Associate at Department of Scientific Research and Conservation, Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, USA in 1999 and Homi Bhabha Fellow at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore from 1996-98. She has been Keynote or BUMA, MRS, MRSI, RILEM, International History of Science Congress, ICOM-CC, INAE, TIIM, Indian Institute of Metals, IITs, ASI, IAF and with exhibits at IISc Open Day, Indian Science Congress, IISF Crafts Pavilion etc. She co-coordinated the NIASDST project on Digital Hampi and related exhibition at National Museum, Delhi, 2020 with laser scanned and 3-D printed models of Vijayanagara era architectural heritage and mixed reality tours. She held educational experimental iron smelting and bronze casting workshops at NIAS involving mastercraftspeople, blacksmiths, potters and metal icon makers from Swamimalai in Thanjavur district. She has integrated approaches from digital laser scanning and geospatial investigations of monuments and heritage in her archaeological studies.

Prof. Sharada Srinivasan has made pioneering contributions by exploring engineering applications in the materials characterisation of archaeological metals, early ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy and artisanal technologies. She has over 80 publications on her work on archaeometric characterisation and finger-printing of metal artefacts and prized South Indian and Chola metal icons using frontline lead isotope ratio geo-chemistry and analysis and the early use of leaded bronze, brass and metallic zinc. She explored old mines and slag heaps for copper, bronze, gold and ferrous metallurgy using electron microscopy and SEM and EPMA techniques. She documented preindustrial landscapes for crucible production of ultra-high-carbon wootz steel (UHCS). She identified the skilled use of intermetallic compounds to make beta bronze (23%) tin-bronze vessels, going back to south Indian megalithic sites, mirror crafts of specular high-delta (33% tin) bronze, and other rare foundries and artisanal traditions. She is published in top journals of Archaeometry, JOM, Materials and Manufacturing Processes, INSA, Current Science, Springer etc. Her researches are also in volumes of ‘India’s Legendary Wootz Steel’, ‘Materials and Civilisation’, ‘Pioneering Metallurgy: Telangana Field Survey’, ‘Ecstasy of Classical Art’, National Museum, Delhi, ‘Digital Hampi’, ‘Re-envisioning Siva Nataraja’, ‘Materialising Southeast Asia’s past’, ’50 Years of Southeast Asian Archaeology’, ‘Foundations of Science’ and ‘Nature and Culture’.

Professor Sharada Srinivasan is recipient of the Padma Shri in Archaeology (2019) and Dr Kalpana Chawla Young Woman Scientist Award for 2011. She was elected as International Honorary Member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2021. She is Fellow of Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Prof Sharada received the Indian Institute of Metals Certificate of Excellence 2007, Materials Research Society of India Medal 2006, Malti B. Nagar Ethnoarchaeology Award (2005), Materials Research Society Graduate Student Award 1996 and Flinders Petrie Medal 1989.

She is Fellow of Exeter University and World Academy of Art and Science.

Special Memories

The Engineering Physics B.Tech. degree was an innovative course that gave a broader exposure beyond pure sciences and theoretical physics into engineering applications, and hence, due to the exposure to spectro-chemical analysis, I was drawn to studying the applications in characterizing archaeological materials. The IIT library thus gave excellent exposure with a stock of amazing global books. A Humanities elective on African writing also exposed my mind to issues of the post-colonial world, while I also gained insights on technology interventions in rural areas as well as in design and such like from different groups working at IIT Bombay. Our interests in performance studies were encouraged as I acted in Satre plays, for Performing Arts Festival while also maintaining my Bharata Natyam dance interests and also featured in a film for Doordarshan on Nuclear Winter".