Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Middle Eastern swords cutting European swords in half Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2  Next 
Author Message
Joshua Connolly




Location: Massachusetts, USA
Joined: 28 Sep 2006

Posts: 49

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 12:55 am    Post subject: Middle Eastern swords cutting European swords in half         Reply with quote

I've been cooking this theory on the origins of this myth for a few weeks now. My idea starts with a Crusader coming against a Middle Eastern swordsmen, and then foolishly moving to guard so that the edges strike square on(No, I'm not a proponent of Edge-on-Edge always being bad, it's just that I do think that in at least some situations you never want to go edge-to-edge). Perhaps the Arab comes down with an exceptionally strong strike and digs into the Crusader's sword about a quarter to half an inch. The Crusader somehow survives the tale and goes to tell all his friends about it. From my standpoint, it's not that hard to imagine that the superior metallurgical construction of the Arabic sword would do some serious damage to the Crusader's sword.

I came to this idea by way of "If this were a fisherman's story where would it have started...". Then I read ARMA's edge damage article, and it clicked. Anyone else think this may be the root of the myth?
View user's profile Send private message
Herbert Schmidt




Location: Austria / Europe
Joined: 21 Mar 2004

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 161

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 1:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd start to wonder WHEN this myth started. I don't think it goes back to medieval times. Anyway they liked to exaggerate in these times. But a professional soldier - noble or not - will always recommend the difference between a damage from blocking and a cut into his blade because the other blade is soooo superior.

Herbert

www.arsgladii.at
Historical European Martial Arts
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
M. Eversberg II




Location: California, Maryland, USA
Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Reading list: 3 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,435

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 1:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as I recollect, the Saracens did not have a superior metal, save for maybe the exported Damascus steel, but as far as I can imagine I doubt many would be using it.

M.

This space for rent or lease.
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address Yahoo Messenger MSN Messenger ICQ Number
Hisham Gaballa





Joined: 27 Jan 2005
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 508

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 2:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm going off on a tangent here, but many Middle-eastern warriors at the time of the crusades (i.e. 12th and 13th centuries) would have been lightly armoured Turcoman horse-archers. Their main tactic was showering their enemies with arrows, then galloping out of range if they got too close. The last thing he would have wanted was a hand to hand fight when his opponent was heavily armoured and all he had was a fur hat, a woolen coat and a cane shield.

Saying that a minority of Middle-Eastern cavalry would have been Turks, Kurds or Arabs equiped with mail hauberks and helmets, these included professional heavy cavalry askar and Mamluks. Their main weapon was the lance, and the swords they used were quite similar to those of their European opponents. Curved sabres did not become really widespread until the 14th century.

These pages are scanned from "Islamic Swords and Swordsmiths" by Unsal Yucel:





We had a similar debate to this on these forums a few years ago, and one of the conclusions (after everyone had brought forwards all their bits of evidence), was that 12th century Middle-Eastern and Western European heavy horsemen were actually remarkably similar, it was only in the late 12th century that they started evolving along different lines.
View user's profile Send private message
David Sutton




Location: Bolton, UK
Joined: 06 Mar 2007
Likes: 15 pages
Reading list: 39 books

Posts: 230

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 7:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not an expert on this subject so my comments should be taken baring that in mind, but; as far as I know and from all the reading I've done on this subject there is absolutely no basis in fact for the myth that eastern swords could or have ever cut a European sword in two.

IIRC the whole point of Damascus steel or Wootz, is not that it is tremendously hard but that it combined good hardness with great flexibility in a single piece of steel at a time when the two where difficult to find in other steels (hence the need to pattern weld blades). This was purely due to the unique properties of iron mined in a particular area of India, when those mines were exhuasted in the 17th century true Damascus steel was very hard to find. So if a crusader rather unwisely parried with the edge of his blade I dont think that the damage sustained, even if the saracen's blade was of Damasus steel, would have been dramatic enough for him to comment on it any further than to say 'Damn I cocked up and ruined my sword'. I think Hisham is right when he comments that saracen swords of the period were pretty much comparable to European made weapons in use at the time.

My own opinion on the myth is that it is either a modern creation along the lines of 'Japanese swords are better than European swords because they can cut them in half so there!'; simply a made up fact to win an argument. Or, it was a story brought back by European explorers and merchants from Japan intended to impress people with the exotic foreign land they had seen, perhaps along the lines of 'they have swords of such strength, that if they met one of our native blades in battle it would surely be split in twain'. Sorry to break into 16/17th century role playing there but I think it makes my point! Big Grin

'Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all'

'To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing'

Hypatia of Alexandria, c400AD
View user's profile Send private message
John Cooksey




Location: NW Ark
Joined: 15 Nov 2003

Posts: 291

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 10:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Sutton wrote:
I'm not an expert on this subject so my comments should be taken baring that in mind, but; as far as I know and from all the reading I've done on this subject there is absolutely no basis in fact for the myth that eastern swords could or have ever cut a European sword in two.

IIRC the whole point of Damascus steel or Wootz, is not that it is tremendously hard but that it combined good hardness with great flexibility in a single piece of steel at a time when the two where difficult to find in other steels (hence the need to pattern weld blades). This was purely due to the unique properties of iron mined in a particular area of India, when those mines were exhuasted in the 17th century true Damascus steel was very hard to find. So if a crusader rather unwisely parried with the edge of his blade I dont think that the damage sustained, even if the saracen's blade was of Damasus steel, would have been dramatic enough for him to comment on it any further than to say 'Damn I cocked up and ruined my sword'. I think Hisham is right when he comments that saracen swords of the period were pretty much comparable to European made weapons in use at the time.

D


Never heard that one before. It's my understanding that "wootz" is just a high-carbon steel made from any number of different crucible processes, found in both India and Iran. I believe that is was still being manufactured in some areas in the early 19th century.
Role-playing aside, it is common for people to attribute special or magical qualities or abilities to exotic, foreign others . . . . . Just look at the superstitious awe in which many modern westerners view Japanese swords or the "mystical" "Eastern" Asian martial arts.

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,042

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 6:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Cooksey wrote:


Never heard that one before. It's my understanding that "wootz" is just a high-carbon steel made from any number of different crucible processes, found in both India and Iran. I believe that is was still being manufactured in some areas in the early 19th century.
Role-playing aside, it is common for people to attribute special or magical qualities or abilities to exotic, foreign others . . . . . Just look at the superstitious awe in which many modern westerners view Japanese swords or the "mystical" "Eastern" Asian martial arts.


No he is right, so called wootz actually came from a fairly small region in India, modern analysis has shown that trace elements of certain metals, notably Vanadium and IIRC molybdenum or tungsten, were critical in the creation of the ultra-high carbon steel which was still so flexible. Billets or 'cakes' of wootz were imported all over the place, especially into Persia, and of course places like Damascus and Toledo. Even some Japanese and Chinese swords used wootz steel. So maybe that is what you are thinking of. There have been some articles claiming that in order to achieve the optimal sword characteristics from the wootz steel certain specific techniques had to be used.

But it is correct that the technique disappeared when the mines panned out, though it has been debated whether the source of the exotic metals was actually the iron itself or the clay or sand used in the smelting process. A Russian scientist claimed to have rediscovered the process in the 19th century but that was not proven. In the last twenty years some people have again claimed to have worked it out but I'm not sure if that has been verified either.

All this information is available online though you can find most of it with a quick google search.

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
View user's profile Send private message
John Cooksey




Location: NW Ark
Joined: 15 Nov 2003

Posts: 291

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 6:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Have you read Manoucher's book yet?
There were a great many wootz swords made after 1700 AD, in both India and Iran. The word "wootz" is just a transliteration of an Indian dialectical word for steel. The steel-making process never ceased, even if certain ore sources were no longer used. Does that make it less "wootz"?

And some do say that it was tungsten. :-)

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,042

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 7:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Cooksey wrote:
Have you read Manoucher's book yet?
There were a great many wootz swords made after 1700 AD, in both India and Iran. The word "wootz" is just a transliteration of an Indian dialectical word for steel. The steel-making process never ceased, even if certain ore sources were no longer used. Does that make it less "wootz"?

And some do say that it was tungsten. :-)


Unfortunately i have not yet saved enough money to purchase Manouchers book, though I hope to do so because it looks magnificent.

But wootz billets created before 1700 are still available today. A good blacksmith could forge a sword from one right now in theory. Also, it's possible of course to create a 'damascned' appearane on a sword through pattern welding and etching with acid, as is done even for some relatively cheap knock-off replicas today, but it's not the same chemically, usually a much lower carbon content. A mohammeds ladder pattern on a sword does not make it a wootz sword. Even weapons from the period which were thought to be wootz in many cases have turned out not to be the real deal.

Here are a couple of articles

http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/9809/Verhoeven-9809.html

http://users.ntsource.com/~bluedevil/%20Tribu..._steel.htm

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
View user's profile Send private message
John Cooksey




Location: NW Ark
Joined: 15 Nov 2003

Posts: 291

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 7:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
John Cooksey wrote:
Have you read Manoucher's book yet?
There were a great many wootz swords made after 1700 AD, in both India and Iran. The word "wootz" is just a transliteration of an Indian dialectical word for steel. The steel-making process never ceased, even if certain ore sources were no longer used. Does that make it less "wootz"?

And some do say that it was tungsten. :-)


Unfortunately i have not yet saved enough money to purchase Manouchers book, though I hope to do so because it looks magnificent.

But wootz billets created before 1700 are still available today. A good blacksmith could forge a sword from one right now in theory. Also, it's possible of course to create a 'damascned' appearane on a sword through pattern welding and etching with acid, as is done even for some relatively cheap knock-off replicas today, but it's not the same chemically, usually a much lower carbon content. A mohammeds ladder pattern on a sword does not make it a wootz sword. Even weapons from the period which were thought to be wootz in many cases have turned out not to be the real deal.

Here are a couple of articles

http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/9809/Verhoeven-9809.html

http://users.ntsource.com/~bluedevil/%20Tribu..._steel.htm

J


That is true---pattern does not make wootz. But we have actual historical accounts of people making crucible steels into the 19th century. I find it highly unlikely that "wootz" was used solely to describe the crucible process using only certain ingredients, rather than the process itself. Indo-Iranian steels made using crucible techniques continued into the 19th century, at least, regardless of the ingredients used. If the crucible process results in a high-quality steel, regardless of basic ingredients, the word "wootz" should be equally applicable. Especially when we consider that the word itself simply mean 'steel". It is known that the process continued in usage at least until the early 19th century . . . . .

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
View user's profile Send private message
Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 8:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Middle Eastern swords cutting European swords in half         Reply with quote

Joshua Connolly wrote:
I've been cooking this theory on the origins of this myth for a few weeks now. My idea starts with a Crusader coming against a Middle Eastern swordsmen, and then foolishly moving to guard so that the edges strike square on(No, I'm not a proponent of Edge-on-Edge always being bad, it's just that I do think that in at least some situations you never want to go edge-to-edge). Perhaps the Arab comes down with an exceptionally strong strike and digs into the Crusader's sword about a quarter to half an inch. The Crusader somehow survives the tale and goes to tell all his friends about it. From my standpoint, it's not that hard to imagine that the superior metallurgical construction of the Arabic sword would do some serious damage to the Crusader's sword.

I came to this idea by way of "If this were a fisherman's story where would it have started...". Then I read ARMA's edge damage article, and it clicked. Anyone else think this may be the root of the myth?


Josh,

It's possible that something like this is the origin of the myth, but I don't personally think it is. I have an alternate explanation as to how it may have come about. Ultimately, we have no way of knowing for sure, since we can't go back and see the development of this story. However, we can be confident that the version I'm about to provide is fairly consistent with other historical evidence.

In the writings of Muslims at the time of the Crusades, a common motif was that of Islamic superiority over Christianity. These narratives typically took the form of involving incidents between a few Muslims and Christians, rather than abstract philosophical comparisons of the two faiths. In most cases, they were probably just forms of propaganda, largely or wholly fictitious, designed to portray the Crusaders in a poor light. Some of these narratives discussed things such as differences in morality between the Franks and the Muslims; in other cases, they took the form of conflict between the two groups, which some times involved arms. In the stories, it was not unknown for Christians to ostensibly triumph over Muslims, but in the end, it was the Muslims who would always have the final victory.

My guess is that this narrative is one that grew out of this tradition. Muslims frequently liked to make fun of the perceived savageness and backwardness of the Crusaders, illustrating the "superiority" of their own culture. I suspect that this story was spread not just as a literal tale of a Muslim cutting through a Crusader's sword, but rather as a metaphor for the triumph of Islam over Christianity. Because of the fact that medieval people believed in magic, supernatural creatures, and all sorts of other things that many of us would be inclined to be skeptical about these days, it wouldn't be surprising if people did take the story literally as it spread.

As I said, we will never know with this one. I'm inclined to doubt that it's based upon an actual historical event simply because a lot of medieval histories and chronicles contain myth and legend blended in with fact. Rather than an exaggerated story, it was probably fabricated for politcal and religious purposes.
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,042

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 9:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Cooksey wrote:


That is true---pattern does not make wootz. But we have actual historical accounts of people making crucible steels into the 19th century. I find it highly unlikely that "wootz" was used solely to describe the crucible process using only certain ingredients, rather than the process itself. Indo-Iranian steels made using crucible techniques continued into the 19th century, at least, regardless of the ingredients used. If the crucible process results in a high-quality steel, regardless of basic ingredients, the word "wootz" should be equally applicable. Especially when we consider that the word itself simply mean 'steel". It is known that the process continued in usage at least until the early 19th century . . . . .


The process was still used, both locally and by foreigners attempting to recreate the older type of crucible steel, but unless I have been misinformed, the resulting steel was not the same, it did not have the same properties. Therefore it was not 'wootz'. Of course that is an arbitrary term to some extent, a foreigners term and a mispronunciation. But it means this particular type of very high carbon content steel (1.5%-2% as opposed to closer to 1% for most steel), which remains resiliant rather than brittle verging on cast iron (and therefore unusable for say, a sword). The key ingredient now seems to be the Vanadium and / or possibly some other metals which were in the original iron ore or some other ingredient they were using in the smelting process that was mined-out or lost around 1700, but this was not understood in the 19th century, in fact not until quite recently.

There is a Russian guy who made what they call Bulat steel in the 19th century which is alleged to have had these properties but I haven't seen any evidence that it actually did.

If you have evidence that Iranian foundries were producing 1.5% carbon steel in the 19th century which was flexible like wootz then that would be something new to me.

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic


Last edited by Jean Henri Chandler on Sun 03 Jun, 2007 9:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message
John Cooksey




Location: NW Ark
Joined: 15 Nov 2003

Posts: 291

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 9:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
John Cooksey wrote:


That is true---pattern does not make wootz. But we have actual historical accounts of people making crucible steels into the 19th century. I find it highly unlikely that "wootz" was used solely to describe the crucible process using only certain ingredients, rather than the process itself. Indo-Iranian steels made using crucible techniques continued into the 19th century, at least, regardless of the ingredients used. If the crucible process results in a high-quality steel, regardless of basic ingredients, the word "wootz" should be equally applicable. Especially when we consider that the word itself simply mean 'steel". It is known that the process continued in usage at least until the early 19th century . . . . .


The process was still used, both locally and by foreigners attempting to recreate the older type of crucible steel, but unless I have been misinformed, the resulting steel was not the same, it did not have the same properties. Therefore it was not 'wootz'. Of course that is an arbitrary term to some extent, a foreigners term and a mispronunciation. But it means this particular type of very high carbon content steel (1.5%-2% as opposed to closer to 1% for most steel), which remains resiliant rather than brittle verging on cast iron (and therefore unusable for say, a sword). The key ingredient now seems to be the Vanadium and / or possibly some other metals which were in the original iron ore or some other ingredient they were using that was mined out or lost around 1700, but this was not understood in the 19th century, in fact not until quite recently.

There is a Russian guy who made what they call Bulat steel in the 19th century which is alleged to have had these properties but I haven't seen any evidence that it actually did.

If you have evidence that Iranian foundries were producing 1.5% carbon steel in the 19th century which was flexible like wootz then that would be something new to me.

J


I don't think historical swordsmiths were measuring carbon contents in percentages. I believe that they were using certain processes to create a consistent result---aka an effective weapon given the materials used. Your first point of contention was that post-1700 CE crucible steels were not "wootz" because they didn't contain certain trace elements. Now you say that the defining characteristic of "wootz" is a certain level of carbon content?
My only argument is that quality "eastern" steels were made using a crucible process after 1700 CE. They certainly were not "cast iron", and they were effective. The crucible steel *process* is interesting, because it was a method of manufacturing high-quality carbon steels in eras in which that was uncommon. Techniques and end-results did not necessarily change, despite changes in source materials. Your argument could equally apply to the production of bronze swords in ancient Mesopotamia, when ingredients in bronze weapons shifted back and forth between Anatolian and Indic sources . . . . . . . . Did the weapons materially vary depending on the region and specific elemental composition of the raw ingredients???
"Wootz" is just a word we use to describe crucible steels that embody a certain group of surficial and material qualities. To say that crucible steels that don't contain certain trace elements are inferior to crucible steels that do contain those trace elements----that is an argument that needs to be demonstrated empirically. The sources (non-internet) state that crucible steel processes continued on past the circa 1700 CE period---the "locals" did not differentiate between them, and it is not certain that all schools of crucible steel manufacture used the same raw materials (and there were 3+ schools/areas of crucible steel manufacture). The wootz/crucible method was used to manufacture high-quality, high-carbon steel ,and it could be (and was) used with a wide variety of raw materials (including recycled blades).
In the end, "wootz" is just an "anglicized" (if that is the appropriate term) Indian word meaning steel, or crucible steel, and multiple accounts state that high-quality crucible steel was produced after 1700 CE.

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,042

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 10:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Cooksey wrote:

I don't think historical swordsmiths were measuring carbon contents in percentages. .


No but modern analysis of what we are calling "wootz" steel is based on this carbon content. They had no idea what that was in say, 300 AD.

Yes I'm arguing that it's the high carbon content which makes "wootz" "wootz" and yes I'm arguing that its the trace elements such as Vanadium, the latter apparently allowed the former.

We appear to be arguing semantics at this point. I understand the term "Wootz" to mean one thing, you seem to believe it means another (any crucible steel). The carbon content criteria and the terms "ultra-high carbon steel' are not something I've invented.

This paper for example from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangladore,

http://materials.iisc.ernet.in/~wootz/heritage/WOOTZ.htm

...states that wootz steel is between 1.5%-2% in carbon content.

So does this paper from 9th International Metallurgical and Materials Congress in Istanbul, Turkey in 1997

http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:nB-qitUH...&gl=us

Just to quickly cite two examples of many, basically everything I have ever read on the subject.

This is the critical factor of wootz. Most steel used in swords is closer to 1% carbon. Anything below 0.15% is wrought Iron, far too soft to ever hold an edge, anything above 2% is cast iron, way too brittle to withstand the punishment a sword must endure. The unique thing about wootz if I understand correctly is that it was such high carbon content while retaining a high degree of plasticity or flexibility.

Now there are many types of crucible steel, that doesn't mean it had these qualities which made "Damascus Steel" weapons so famous. If you have evidence that they were making swords with these properties in Iran or anywhere else past 1700 AD it would be very interesting to a lot of people on this forum I'd wager.

Jean

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
View user's profile Send private message
John Cooksey




Location: NW Ark
Joined: 15 Nov 2003

Posts: 291

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 10:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
John Cooksey wrote:

I don't think historical swordsmiths were measuring carbon contents in percentages. .


No but modern analysis of what we are calling "wootz" steel is based on this carbon content. They had no idea what that was in say, 300 AD.

Yes I'm arguing that it's the high carbon content which makes "wootz" "wootz" and yes I'm arguing that its the trace elements such as Vanadium, the latter apparently allowed the former.

We appear to be arguing semantics at this point. I understand the term "Wootz" to mean one thing, you seem to believe it means another (any crucible steel). The carbon content criteria and the terms "ultra-high carbon steel' are not something I've invented.

This paper for example from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangladore,

http://materials.iisc.ernet.in/~wootz/heritage/WOOTZ.htm

...states that wootz steel is between 1.5%-2% in carbon content.

So does this paper from 9th International Metallurgical and Materials Congress in Istanbul, Turkey in 1997

http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:nB-qitUH...&gl=us

Just to quickly cite two examples of many, basically everything I have ever read on the subject.

This is the critical factor of wootz. Most steel used in swords is closer to 1% carbon. Anything below 0.15% is wrought Iron, far too soft to ever hold an edge, anything above 2% is cast iron, way too brittle to withstand the punishment a sword must endure. The unique thing about wootz if I understand correctly is that it was such high carbon content while retaining a high degree of plasticity or flexibility.

Now there are many types of crucible steel, that doesn't mean it had these qualities which made "Damascus Steel" weapons so famous. If you have evidence that they were making swords with these properties in Iran or anywhere else past 1700 AD it would be very interesting to a lot of people on this forum I'd wager.

Jean


Sigh.
My point was simply that people who were making the swords didn't distinguish between swords pre-1700 CE and post-1700 CE. Maybe we should listen to them, and their traditions?
i am sure that I don't have anything interesting to say to anyone on this forum.
Wootz means "steel", specifically, given geo-historical methods of manufacture, crucible steel. So I guess it is semantics. It certainly was not magic, and the crucible technique could consistently return a high quality high carbon steel. I bet it even could today . . . . . . .

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,042

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2007 6:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Cooksey wrote:


Sigh.
My point was simply that people who were making the swords didn't distinguish between swords pre-1700 CE and post-1700 CE. Maybe we should listen to them, and their traditions?
i am sure that I don't have anything interesting to say to anyone on this forum.
Wootz means "steel", specifically, given geo-historical methods of manufacture, crucible steel. So I guess it is semantics. It certainly was not magic, and the crucible technique could consistently return a high quality high carbon steel. I bet it even could today . . . . . . .


It's always difficult when we are trying to look at ancient technologies from a modern perspective, particularly with regard to terminology. For example, what was bronze really when we have so many different alloys? We have similar problems with the terminology of swords, we may differentiate between a longsword and an arming sword, or between a "sidesword" and a rapier, but back in the day they usually just called them all "swerde" or "svard" or "mec" or "spada" or "epee" or whatever.

You have definately reminded me how much I want to get Manouchers book, I may just have to bite the bullet and order that copy. I think I would learn a lot not to mention the book itself is really an art object from the photo's I have seen.

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
View user's profile Send private message
James Arlen Gillaspie
Industry Professional



Location: upstate NY
Joined: 10 Nov 2005

Posts: 523

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2007 7:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some years ago I was allowed to examine one of the samples made at Livermore, which matches the old stuff for carbon content and basic metallurgical structure (some slight differences caused by using rollers rather than hammers to refine the structure, and of course no silicious inclusions), which was of great interest to me as I had spent a great deal of time researching the scientific literature on the subject, and had planned to make some myself. In an ANNEALED state, it was as springy and hard as a fully heat-treated piece of 1050. This showed me that making armour out of it would be immensely difficult, as it would have to be hotworked almost all the time using the correct techniques (stuff is very fussy about temperature range). Needless to say, there is a reason DOD was interested in the stuff.

By contrast, Dr. A. R. Williams has shown that the metallurgy of poorer quality European swords was pretty bad, indeed. It is quite possible that a very good Wootz blade could destroy a bad European blade, particularly if they met when cavalry formations passed through each other. The forces involved are several times greater than two men having it out on foot.

jamesarlen.com
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,042

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2007 9:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James Arlen Gillaspie wrote:
Some years ago I was allowed to examine one of the samples made at Livermore, which matches the old stuff for carbon content and basic metallurgical structure (some slight differences caused by using rollers rather than hammers to refine the structure, and of course no silicious inclusions), which was of great interest to me as I had spent a great deal of time researching the scientific literature on the subject, and had planned to make some myself. In an ANNEALED state, it was as springy and hard as a fully heat-treated piece of 1050. This showed me that making armour out of it would be immensely difficult, as it would have to be hotworked almost all the time using the correct techniques (stuff is very fussy about temperature range). Needless to say, there is a reason DOD was interested in the stuff.

By contrast, Dr. A. R. Williams has shown that the metallurgy of poorer quality European swords was pretty bad, indeed. It is quite possible that a very good Wootz blade could destroy a bad European blade, particularly if they met when cavalry formations passed through each other. The forces involved are several times greater than two men having it out on foot.


Hi Mr. Gillaspie,

Very interesting post. Can you be a bit more specific about which samples you are speaking of for those of us who are not familiar with the Livermore study you are referring to ?

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
View user's profile Send private message
John Cooksey




Location: NW Ark
Joined: 15 Nov 2003

Posts: 291

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2007 10:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
John Cooksey wrote:


Sigh.
My point was simply that people who were making the swords didn't distinguish between swords pre-1700 CE and post-1700 CE. Maybe we should listen to them, and their traditions?
i am sure that I don't have anything interesting to say to anyone on this forum.
Wootz means "steel", specifically, given geo-historical methods of manufacture, crucible steel. So I guess it is semantics. It certainly was not magic, and the crucible technique could consistently return a high quality high carbon steel. I bet it even could today . . . . . . .



You have definately reminded me how much I want to get Manouchers book, I may just have to bite the bullet and order that copy. I think I would learn a lot not to mention the book itself is really an art object from the photo's I have seen.

J


It really is an excellent book, quite aside from the magnificent photos. He goes into such great depth on a wide variety of topics, including crucible techniques, various historical steel patterns, and the symbolism and meaning of swords in the Iranian context, even the "lineages" (symbolic and otherwise) of various regional schools of bladesmithing.

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
View user's profile Send private message
Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
Joined: 19 Feb 2004
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,576

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2007 11:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As veteran forumists we should know that the term "X swords would cut right trough Y swords!" is a all to common way of saying "I've heard that X swords where pretty good"

It is simply the most graphic way to say that "these swords where good", if you do not have a lot of experience with swords, wither you are a forum kiddie (Like, the katana is like, so, █BER sharp it'll, like, cut RIGHT THROUG like, ANY other sword! Like, Major Pwnage, LOL!) a Victorian scholar (naturally, the vastly superior damascene steel would cut right trough the crude and heavy swords of the crusaders) or a hollywood scriptwriter. (hero takes sword, cuts Extra's swords in two...)

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website MSN Messenger


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Middle Eastern swords cutting European swords in half
Page 1 of 2 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum