The Iron Pillar near the Qutb Minar at Mehrauli in Delhi did not attract the
attention of scientists till the second quarter of the 19th century. The first
reports of the pillar were by British soldiers, and Captain Archer talked
about its inscription of "unknown antiquity which nobody can read". James
Prinsep, an Indian antiquarian, deciphered the inscription in 1838 and
translated it into English in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
Scholars consider the pillar to be of early Gupta period (320-495 ad) on
grounds of palaeography, content and language of the inscription and the
style of execution. The inscription refers to a ruler named Chandra, who
had conquered the Vangas and Vahlikas. Though there are differences in
opinion over whether the king referred to in the inscription as Chandra is
Samudragupta (340-375) or his son Chandragupta II (375-415), majority
are in favour of the latter. The pillar was perhaps a standard for supporting
an image of Garuda, the bird carrier of Lord Vishnu. The excellent state of
preservation of the Iron Pillar despite exposure for 15 centuries to the
elements has amazed corrosion technologists. High phosphorus, low
sulphur, low manganese and high       slag contents contribute individually and