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James R.Fox

Location: Youngstowm,Ohio
Joined: 29 Feb 2008

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PostPosted: Fri 24 Apr, 2009 7:28 pm    Post subject: Srliest use of Cast Iron and Steel Made by Blast Furnace         Reply with quote

Sirs_ The Earlies use of blast furnace technology, contrary to the statements you will find elsewhere on the net, occured in China. In fact, according to statements by the author, Dr Donald B Wagner, the Chinese never knew about bloomery furnaces, when they first entered the metal age they used blast furnaces powered by coolies on treadmills to smelt their copper and bronze. Once they heard about smelting iron from the Scythian tribes of the Altai,they went immediatly to cast iron and fined it into wrought iron and steel using the the puddling process re-invented by Krupp, or the Sieman-Martins process of combining wrought and cast iron in the blast furnace charge.This occured around 800 BCE.By the Chin dynasty they were mass-producing steel armour and weapons, which enabled the succeding Han dynasty to conquer central asia up to the Caspian Sea and send expiditions to the mediterranian Sea. The first Roman Emperor,Agustus Caesar, recieved several missions from the Han emperor, and sent at least two in return, as described by Pliny the elder.
See The Early Use If Iron In China, Korea and Japan, a html document located at\KoreanFe.htm. Also see any good history of the Han Empire on line This supprised me no end. I knew the Cinese invented blast furnace technology before the Indians did, the Indians, and the tribes of Sri Lanka and Central Asia learned it from the Chinese technicians after the Han Empire got overthrown by the usual coolie rebellion,(a recurring theme in Cinese history) So, I didn't want to stick you with the long address, but I cant make thes page display html.

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Dan Howard

Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Sat 25 Apr, 2009 4:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Everything I've read in the last ten years said that the Chinese were the first to make cast iron and use the blast furnace. What web sites were you thinking of?
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James R.Fox

Location: Youngstowm,Ohio
Joined: 29 Feb 2008

Posts: 253

PostPosted: Sat 25 Apr, 2009 4:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan-I was referring to the series in Ethnographic Arms and Armour by Dr Anne Feuerbach and others. Sorry, I should have made that clearer. They begin their history with the use of wootz steel in southern India and Sri Lanka, and the use of bulat or pulad in Central Asia. They seem never to have heard of the Invention of the blast furnaces by the Chinese, or of the fact that the Chinese invented puddling and the Seimans-Martin processsto make wrought iron and steel, they only speak of addimg carbonascius materials and/or glass to the charge of ore. The only place the Chinese seem to have lagged some was the use of watermills to power the furnaces.They alwas used the tradional coolie powered treadmill untill the Emperor Shi Hwang Di started re-arming his whole army with steel arme and armour to conquer and unify China (China consisted of a no. of warring states untill then).By 200 bce the Chinese had blast furnace set-ups that could tuen out 3,000 pounds at a pour.One has been excavated in Hunan.When the Han Empira rose under the Liu family, they used the army to conquer moast of Southeast Asia as well as Central asia as far as the Caspian.As I said the Chinese seem never to have thought of the bloomery,but started using the blast furnace to smelt their copper and bronze.One article said, and it sounds logical, that the Chinese invented the blast furnace to handle their very refractory ceramics like porcelain, which require equivalent tempatures,1299-1400 digrees, or so I understand.
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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Location: Netherlands
Joined: 11 Mar 2005

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PostPosted: Sat 25 Apr, 2009 4:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Chinese did use bloomery furnaces at first. Some of the earliest iron artifacts mentioned in "Weapons in Ancient China", dating to 600BC (Spring and Autumn period) are made from both bloomery and cast iron. Some earlier iron artifacts exist, which are meteoritic iron. Iron was still very rare until the Warring States period (476-221BC). By the middle of the Warring Stares period, iron became more widespread (still wrought bloomery iron and cast iron). In the late Warring States period, artifacts start to appear from cast iron with decarburized surfaces. Then "Weapons in Ancient China" becomes a bit vague with terminology, either indicating lack of knowledge from the writer or translator. But it seems like they were forging cast iron to decarburize it (bai lian gang, or steel forged a hundred times). Iron production seems to have matured during the Han Dynasty (202BC-220AD), during which massive iron smelting industries came into place, including oval shaped furnaces as big as 4x2.8 meter (near this furnace, a 20 ton lump of pig iron was found). The use of open hearths to reduce the carbon contents of pig irons apparently arrived during the Eastern Han period (25-220AD), resulting in so-called "stir-fried steel" (chao gang).

Although during the Waring States period, some states had developed steel weaponary, there are virtually no iron or steel weapons from the Qin state, nor from Qin's terracotta army site. All Qin weapons and tools (with the exception of some chisels and IIRC a dagger from Qin's terracotta site) are bronze instead. So apparently Qin managed to conquere all the other states, some of which using proper steel longswords, using only bronze weaponary. During the Western Han period (202BC-9AD), there were still some bronze weapons (such as the first single edged dao swords, precursors of all later daos and katanas), but they seem to disappear very quickly and it was all steel after that.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
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