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Old 15th May 2004, 10:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
Brian G. Turner
 
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Steel in the ancient world

A tiny Iron Age tool found in Holland is one of the oldest objects unearthed in Europe made from the alloy steel. The 6cm-long punch has a carbon content (2%) rarely seen in iron-based objects from the region at the time.

The 4th Century AD tool, which may have been used as a nail, was probably made using the process of furnace smelting.

The discovery, which occurred at the site of Heeten, is reported in the Journal of Archaeological Science by Matthijs van Nie and Evelyne Godfrey.

"We think it is the earliest ultra-high carbon steel from Europe," Godfrey, of the University of Bradford, UK, told BBC News Online.

"The punch was broken in use and then it was lost. But it was a finished, functional tool. It was no accident."


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3705205.stm
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Old 19th February 2005, 11:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Steel in the ancient world

Now that is impressive. Most people in Europe were still using poor quality metals at that time, it does make one wonder whether it was a more widespread practice that fell into decline due to the difficulty of manufacture.

Working with High Carbon Steel is also difficult. I have the privilege of knowing a local blacksmith who over the years has taught me a fair amount about blade smithing and armouring.

When we're making something, even something as small as a knife or spear we tend to use an electrically driven powerhammer.
Polishing the blade down is also an incredibly time consuming and arduous task.



The jpeg (assuming I've uploaded it correctly) shows some of the smaller pieces I've made. The axe head only took 6 hours from lump of steel to finished product, it's mind steel.
The rest all took around 10 hours to forge and a similar time to get them to their current state using an electric grinder.

Polishing using high grade wet & dry takes an equal amount of time followed by the creation of the fittings.
Which goes a long way to explain why high carbon steel swords especially folded blades (Japanese) or fire welded blades like the vikings were so expensive and rare.
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Old 20th February 2005, 09:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Steel in the ancient world

All sounds great.
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Old 1st March 2005, 08:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Steel in the ancient world

That looks like beautiful work, Tsujigiri. It must be very interesting to have a hobby like that. I've always been interested in ancient weaponry and your creations appear exquisite.
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Old 1st March 2005, 09:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Steel in the ancient world

I wouldn't go as far as exquisite, the later pieces are ok but the earlier ones like the flame tongue are very flawed.

Thanks though
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Old 2nd March 2005, 02:01 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Steel in the ancient world

Nice pieces. I haven't seen many forged Kris'. Glad I got to see them.
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Old 16th July 2006, 10:28 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Steel in the ancient world

Yes, an amazing find! More and more we learn that there was far more to ancient history that what historians have believed!
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Old 21st July 2006, 04:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Steel in the ancient world

Hey Neuro, you are the same Nuero from Spec Vis aren't you?

Will write more on steel when have more time, am at an itnernet cafe in Bulgaria and about to run out of time.
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Old 21st July 2006, 08:25 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Steel in the ancient world

I've heard of Damascus steel, where they plunged the blade through a slave's body while it was still red hot. Does that count?
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Old 27th August 2006, 07:24 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Steel in the ancient world

im not surprised the germans and celts where introducing small amounts of carbon(using coal) into the smelting process-it wasent enough to make proper steel but it had a significant effect on the metals quality

same with folding most uneducated people think that blade folding was only invented in japan

but in germanic europe and syria they did it too
they only did around 30 or 50 folds instead off the standard 100 that the japanise did

and what really actually made japanise sword making different wasent folding blades it was cooling different sections of the blade with mud to give the blade varied properties within different sections of the blade
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Old 27th August 2006, 07:49 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Steel in the ancient world

Every week it seems like archaeologists unearth evidence that our ancestors were far more sophisticated than most folks give them credit for. Thanks for sharing this article Brian. Tsujigiri and Fightin Gobbo thanks for sharing your expertise with weapons technology. I learned something new and fascinating tonight!
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