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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Oct, 2009 2:51 pm    Post subject: iron ring from Vorwowhlde?         Reply with quote

While looking at the Urnfield culture I encountered a reference to a 1500 B.C. iron ring discovered near Vorwohlde (Kr. Grafschaft Diepholz, Germany). I have not been able to find any further information regarding the ring itself, or nature of it's discovery. Search returns seem to be in German. It could be significant relative to the time line of iron age history, and to manufacturing activities influenced by this region's iron ore composition.

Does anyone else no anything more specific about this?

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Oct, 2009 2:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A single ring is more likely a natural bog-iron deposit around a tree root.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Oct, 2009 5:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Dan. I had not even considered that it could form that way. As far as I know, this could turn out to be an oxen nose ring or something as well.

The possibility of it NOT BEING "bog" iron is what I am actually interested in. Some of the very early maille is moderate in phosphorus content, but very low in carbon and low calcium. This is ideal for cold forming of ductile iron. Britain "currency bars" of iron were too low in phosphorus. Danish bog iron of known samples is too high in calcium. Southern German Hallstatt and La Tene iron is too high in carbon while too low in phosphor. Only a small geographic region has the correct prevalent iron chemistry in period iron examples to correspond to the very small number of analyses of early maille ring composition. Raw materials (ivory and other precious materials certainly seem to have been in Celtic period) could have been transported. But, finished goods seemed to have been traded or looted as well.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Thu 22 Oct, 2009 12:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

According to
http://welt-der-bronzezeit.blogspot.com/2008/...000-v.html
(summary of "Deutschland in der Bronzezeit" (1996) by Ernst Probst)

Quote:
A burial in Sulingen-Vorwohlde (Kreis Diepholz) in Niedersachsen contained a man who wore a narrow finger ring made from iron. It is the oldest piece of metal in Northern Germany. Perhaps this metal - which was more rare and precious than gold - came from the Aegean to the North.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Thu 22 Oct, 2009 3:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for finding that information Paul!

It is intriguing that existence of jewelry grade iron working in Celtic Europe (fibulae, rings, etc.) seems to at least match or possibly pre-date more Eastern works of comparable intricacy. (An incredible 1300 BC iron fitting believed to be for a Chinese bow is probably at the top of my list for early intricate iron work at the moment.) If "iron age" were assigned to cultures based upon complexity of iron creations instead of the time when iron is first made into weapons and cutting tools, it could greatly alter the concepts of when various cultures "advanced."

I will continue to try to find out more about the ring. With modern spectroscopy methods, it is not as much of a guess as to where source materials actually came from. (If it is meteoric, then all bets are off.)

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Thu 22 Oct, 2009 11:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The question is of course if the datings mentioned in your posts are accurate.

The Iron Age is generally set to have begun in North-Western Continental Europe around 800 BC. The Sögel-Wohlde culture lasted approx. 1600-1000 BC. So if the grave is not accurately (dendrochronological or perhaps radio-carbon) dated but "simply" dated at a certain time point because of general typography of other grave goods, then the grave could perhaps be from 1000 BC as well, which leaves only a 200 year gap.

At any rate, I think it's not a good idea to base any important conclusions on a single find. For all we know, the ring may have been made in Anatolia and then somehow traded to Germany.
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Fri 23 Oct, 2009 3:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not sure about the iron being imported. In principle, the few iron artifacts dating to the bronze age in Europe could have been made with bronze age technology already present. Smelting a bloom from bog ore (or other iron ore) is virtually the same as smelting copper or tin, requiring the same kind of furnaces and knowledge. The only difference is that the end result is a bloom that can not be melted and cast like bronze (they may have been able to make cast iron, but so far I've not seen evidence of this). If casting is not possible, coldworking the bloom (with frequent annealing) is the only option using bronze age technology. This means that only very small artifacts, like pins, rings etc can be made from that bloom as it will mostly crumble, except for some more solid parts. It's only at the point when people learn forging hot, and welding that these blooms can be turned into useful tools that can compete with bronze. You can only start calling it iron age at that point IMO. Before that, it's bronze age, using bronze age technology to make some small iron artifacts.
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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