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Alain D.





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PostPosted: Tue 17 May, 2011 1:52 pm    Post subject: Iron to Steel Weapon Construction         Reply with quote

My understanding of historical metallurgy and weapon construction is, unfortunately, very poor. I've been doing some reading on historical blade manufacturing, but still can't quite pin down the changes in blade composition over time. I'd like to have a better grasp on the shift from iron to pattern welding and composite construction to monosteel construction from the Iron Age up to the late Middle Ages.

When, for instance, were weapons made completely of wrought (or bloomery) iron? For instance, could one find a Frankish wrought iron spearhead, or would it more likely be pattern-welded? Or could one find a 13th century knight with a monosteel sword or an iron sword? I've also read that many knife blades and spears were made with an iron core and steel edges. Was monosteel ever really used for weapons before modern times? Or was the carbon content simply slowly increased during the Middle Ages until it was considered true steel as opposed to iron?

My admittedly poor understanding was that iron surpassed bronze originally for economic and supply reasons (as late bronze age weapons were of comparable quality to early iron swords and perhaps even better than some iron examples). As metalworking improved, better iron produced stronger, but still brittle weapons. Adding carbon was observed to enhance the strength of the metal and pattern welding emerged as a means to blend hard and flexible materials into one blade (or was this more of a cost issue to limit the use of expensive steel?). Then pure steel came into use for the strongest blades.
Is this accurate at all?

I know there's probably a lot of overlap between in weapon composition during the period, but I'm looking for general trends and what would and wouldn't be possible for weapon construction at various points from the Early Iron Age to the Late Middle Ages.

Thanks for the help

-Alain
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 17 May, 2011 2:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is no change in composition over time. You find examples of all of the above right up to the development of homogenous steel at the end of the Middle Ages.
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Wed 18 May, 2011 2:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Iron to Steel Weapon Construction         Reply with quote

Alain D. wrote:
My admittedly poor understanding was that iron surpassed bronze originally for economic and supply reasons (as late bronze age weapons were of comparable quality to early iron swords and perhaps even better than some iron examples). As metalworking improved, better iron produced stronger, but still brittle weapons.

Definately not brittle, but the opposite: softer and more bendy.

Swords with a high carbon contents throughout have existed even before they figured out quench hardening and tempering. From the early iron age, there is unfortunately no metallurgical data available of iron swords. From the late iron age, the swords I have data on are all workhardened, not quench hardened. However, a good number have up to about 0.7% carbon. Although I don't have direct data, I understand that at the end of the iron age, some of the swords were quench hardened. It's also around that time that you see a lot of experimentation combinding steel with iron, and the first patternwelded swords emerge. Mind though, patternwelding has no real mechanical advantage, it's purely esthetic. The only exception may be that it shows the maker can do good welds, as a poor weld would come apart when twisting billets.

To make the matter more complex, monosteel blades don't mean through-hardened blades. Traditional steels are shallow-hardening, which means that the thicker sections don't harden when quenching. So there it doesn't matter that much whether you use high or low carbon steel, though the high carbon steel is a more springy and stronger then the low carbon iron even in unhardened condition. But there phosphoric iron has the same effect, which was also frequently used. Low carbon steel weapons keep on being made at least until the end of the medieval period, and probably beyond. From the early medieval period, I know there are lots of examples of plain iron swords with no carbon or phosphor, even patternwelded ones. I don't have any date on late medieval weapons, but at least I know eating knives were mostly still combined steel/iron or even just plain iron. At that time, makers marked their blades to guarantee quality, but low quality examples (probably with fake makers marks) were still plenty available. Regarding weapons, it's probably until weapons production became industrial only and standarized that low quality examples disappear. But for munition, like arrowheads, metal quality is less important then quantity and cost. So no surprise that these remain mostly just plain iron.

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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Wed 18 May, 2011 5:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jerouen, quench hardened steel, in the form of welded in edges in iron tools was first invented by the Hetites around 1900 BC who've been labeled as the original inventors of the craft and the starters of the iron age. Being able to quench harden steel is a vital part of making it useful as a tool or weapon and the Hetites made tools that have the same HRC 50 edge hardness as we see as optimal today for most rugged use. Yes, this technology would not have spread to europe until far later of course or if it ever spread it may be more of a case of re-inventing it again. But the technique was there at the very beginning of the iron age as a vital part of it. Most don't realise this.

Also, as far as I've read as well as heard from others on this forum (which may be unreliable), all iron age swords found so far have at least one steel edge in them. I've not heard of this work hardening before except for primitive iron cultures such as native american indians or unique artifacts such as Tutank Amuns meteorite iron knife.
I'm not saying you're wrong, myself I find it a bit much to expect every single iron sword in existence to be steel edged or quench hardened. But could you give us an example of a sword museum piece made by purely work hardened iron and the culture it belonged to?

Please correct me on this also. It was my understanding that the late iron age goes up and includes the merovingian and vikning age as well as bordering into the medieval. Surely you know that almost all swords from that age were generally quench hardened, either made from all steel or iron with welded in steel edges and often if not always quenched to a high degree of edge hardness. Look at the Ulfberth swords exported from Germany, they're made of quenched steel.

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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 18 May, 2011 7:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think Dan said this most correctly. You can sometimes find examples of a variety of alloys and techniques being done within a specific culture and time period. Some Merovingian blades and objects had relatively pure iron content with higher than average phosphorus. A couple of anlayses we have linked previously of those specific examples were work hardened. Yet, there were completely different alloy types (more suited to quench hardening with evidence of appropriate carbon-iron phases to justify that idea) found beside them and compared within the same articles.
Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Thu 19 May, 2011 3:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johan Gemvik wrote:
Jerouen, quench hardened steel, in the form of welded in edges in iron tools was first invented by the Hetites around 1900 BC who've been labeled as the original inventors of the craft and the starters of the iron age. Being able to quench harden steel is a vital part of making it useful as a tool or weapon and the Hetites made tools that have the same HRC 50 edge hardness as we see as optimal today for most rugged use. Yes, this technology would not have spread to europe until far later of course or if it ever spread it may be more of a case of re-inventing it again. But the technique was there at the very beginning of the iron age as a vital part of it. Most don't realise this.

Do you have any direct data on this? I don't put much value into that kind of information without any actual metallurgical data. I know some small quench hardened punches etc. show up pretty early here and there. Also, there are practically no iron swords from the time you describe. There are only a few small handful of iron blades (at least which are listed books on ancient iron metallurgy) up to about 1200-1100 BC. Most have to my knowledge never been analyzed, as they are far to valuable to do tests on. A lot of "common knowledge" on ancient iron and steel is based on assumptions, and little on hard data.

Quote:
Also, as far as I've read as well as heard from others on this forum (which may be unreliable), all iron age swords found so far have at least one steel edge in them. I've not heard of this work hardening before except for primitive iron cultures such as native american indians or unique artifacts such as Tutank Amuns meteorite iron knife.

Not much is known about the Tutankhamuns iron dagger. It's never been analyzed, so they don't even know if it's meteoritic or wrought iron, let alone whether it's workhardened.

Quote:
I'm not saying you're wrong, myself I find it a bit much to expect every single iron sword in existence to be steel edged or quench hardened. But could you give us an example of a sword museum piece made by purely work hardened iron and the culture it belonged to?

The data comes from about 20 swords from central Europe (Switzerland, Czech Republic etc), which are analyzed and published in "Iron and steel in ancient times" by Vagn Fabritius Buchwald. The swords cover a range from about 500-200BC.

Quote:
Please correct me on this also. It was my understanding that the late iron age goes up and includes the merovingian and vikning age as well as bordering into the medieval.

Depends on your location. Wherever the Romans were, the iron age stops as soon as the Romans invade. With iron age, I refer to pre-Roman iron age.
Quote:
Surely you know that almost all swords from that age were generally quench hardened, either made from all steel or iron with welded in steel edges and often if not always quenched to a high degree of edge hardness. Look at the Ulfberth swords exported from Germany, they're made of quenched steel.
That's not actually true. You can find some analyzed examples which I listed here:
http://www.swordforum.com/forums/showthread.p...val-swords

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 19 May, 2011 2:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johan Gemvik wrote:
Jerouen, quench hardened steel, in the form of welded in edges in iron tools was first invented by the Hetites around 1900 BC.

There is no evidence to suggest this at all. A few pieces of slag have been found at a Hittite site, which suggests that iron smelting began this early, but definitely nothing to suggest quench hardened steel.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 19 May, 2011 3:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just speculation on my part: I don't think that the role of carbon content combined with quenching and tempering would have been understood or used even in a systematic and controlled way uniformly by early period iron/steel sword makers.

Knowledge and competence would vary a great deal over different regions and periods but in time.

Some good heat treats would happen by happy accident of optimum carbon content and maybe " incidental " quenching at least very early on ? Imagine a maker forging a blade with good carbon content and then just cooling the work in water when he finished and then noticing that the steel was harder than if he just let the blade cool down slowly.

In many cases the blade may have been too brittle and broken at first use but the better edge holding might have been noticed ? At some point someone may have re-heated the blade enough to temper it or interrupted his quenching of the blade also by accident and ended up with a superior blade.

In time experience over generations of swordmakers would have developed or learned " standard/traditonal ways " to get a good blade.

In any case after decades and centuries consistent results could be expected even if the scientific reasons for the results would have been unknown.

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PostPosted: Mon 23 May, 2011 3:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:

There is no evidence to suggest this at all. A few pieces of slag have been found at a Hittite site, which suggests that iron smelting began this early, but definitely nothing to suggest quench hardened steel.


So the Guide to the Metallurgy of the Edge Tools at the Davistown Museum Art of the Edge Tool is wrong then that they made steel as well as iron?
http://www.davistownmuseum.org/PDFs/Vol11_App...llurgy.pdf
Though I note they actually don't refer to the Hetites, or Hitites but another people.

I had other links to similar scientific research text stating the edge hardness and such, but my computer crashed a month ago and I lost a lot of data and web links. My apologies Dan, I know this can seem a bit Gung Ho on the scientific base for my comments. Wink
I'll sincerely try to find the material again.

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PostPosted: Mon 23 May, 2011 5:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:
Johan Gemvik wrote:
Do you have any direct data on this? I don't put much value into that kind of information without any actual metallurgical data.


Nor should you of course.
I had some soruces and data on the subject, although not at all as comprehensive as what you post in the linked other forum. My earlier computer crash means I don't have much of anything right now though. I'll see what I can find, just using the all mighty Google, but it was out there previously so I expect it still is. As for the validity of it, that's another matter entirely as I refuse to be held accountable for someone elses research. Wink

Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:

I know some small quench hardened punches etc. show up pretty early here and there. Also, there are practically no iron swords from the time you describe.

I was not describing swords made of steel or any swords at all from 1900 BC anywhere in my post if that's what you're asking for. I only mention tools as that's all I've read about. I'd most certainly be interested too if someone did find one of course, but how likely is it really to survive the ages that long to even be recognizable?

Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:

There are only a few small handful of iron blades (at least which are listed books on ancient iron metallurgy) up to about 1200-1100 BC.

Yes.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:

Most have to my knowledge never been analyzed, as they are far to valuable to do tests on. A lot of "common knowledge" on ancient iron and steel is based on assumptions, and little on hard data.

I agree completely!

Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:

Not much is known about the Tutankhamuns iron dagger. It's never been analyzed, so they don't even know if it's meteoritic or wrought iron, let alone whether it's workhardened.

I read somewhere archaeologists surmised it was work hardened meteorite Iron. I'll see if I can find that link as well. I took this as them having done the actual metallugical analysis required to determine that. But as you say, this field is ripe with assumptions and if you know for a fact they haven't really done it then yes, you're right. Wasn't my call on the thing to begin with just adding to the discusssion.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:

Quote:
I'm not saying you're wrong, myself I find it a bit much to expect every single iron sword in existence to be steel edged or quench hardened. But could you give us an example of a sword museum piece made by purely work hardened iron and the culture it belonged to?

The data comes from about 20 swords from central Europe (Switzerland, Czech Republic etc), which are analyzed and published in "Iron and steel in ancient times" by Vagn Fabritius Buchwald. The swords cover a range from about 500-200BC.

Most fascinating, I want that book. Adding it to my wish list. Wink

Quote:
Please correct me on this also. It was my understanding that the late iron age goes up and includes the merovingian and vikning age as well as bordering into the medieval.

Depends on your location. Wherever the Romans were, the iron age stops as soon as the Romans invade. With iron age, I refer to pre-Roman iron age.

Having looked it up in detail myself now, that actually isn't the only reference around. According to wikipedia (as well as several history books and scientific papers on the subject I managed to dig up) In southern europe the fall of western Rome in 476 AD is usually considered the end of the Iron age, whereas in Northern europe the Iron age generally ends with the end of the viking age, as defined by the north embracing the christian faith. But from several perspectives many traditions, culture and technology live on well into the 12th century.
This is why in general swedes and most other scandinavian peoples today see the iron age, or let's call it the legacy of that age, as lasting past the beginning of the medieval age and at times refer to even early medieval as "Iron age".
So both of us are actually right, just using different perspectives, and I see now how this particular divergence confuses things to no end here on myArmoury. Wink

Quote:
Surely you know that almost all swords from that age were generally quench hardened, either made from all steel or iron with welded in steel edges and often if not always quenched to a high degree of edge hardness. Look at the Ulfberth swords exported from Germany, they're made of quenched steel.
That's not actually true. You can find some analyzed examples which I listed here:
http://www.swordforum.com/forums/showthread.p...val-swords


I quote you from there:
"Early medieval period:

Ulfberht sword, Donnybrook, Dublin, Ireland, ?
Centre:
- carbon contents: 0.2%
- phosporous contents: 0.02%
- manganese contents: 0.1-1.0%
Fine grained ferrite with spheroidal pearlite

Edge:
- carbon contents: 0.3-0.4%
- phosporous contents: trace
- manganese contents: 0.1%
Quench-hardened to 520-550 HV

Notes: piled layout."


I don't follow, exactly where does this link refute what I just said, in fact it supports my comment?
The data clearly says quenched. Quenching pure iron doesn't do much for it, whereas it does quite a bit for steel.
Pearlite is one of several forms of steel, which also include Austenite, Martensite and others.
Just to clarify another point here. Only ultra high carbon steel has those levels of carbon in them. "Iron" infused with that content normally become steel, although if it has high or even medium slag content it also becomes very brittle and not of much use for anything. I expect the phosphorous content being only trace elements in the edge material has to do with it being of best available quality highly quench-temperable steel, while the core isn't supposed to be that hard tempered, so it manages just fine with more of it. This also hints that the blade is likely differentially heat treated rather than purely high/low carbon materials mixed to produce a similar hard/soft result even though it's piled.

520-550 HV (Vickers hardness scale) = 51,3-52,5 HRC (Rockwell C hardness scale), incidentally the very same 50-55 HRC we use today to determine proper optimal edge hadness for edged tools of good quality. And modern cutting swords. This is only practical with steel.

Here's a Vickers to Rockwell conversion chart:
http://www.taylorspecialsteels.co.uk/pages/main/conchart.htm

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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Tue 24 May, 2011 1:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johan Gemvik wrote:
I don't follow, exactly where does this link refute what I just said, in fact it supports my comment?
Well, if you read on through those examples, you will find examples without any steel in them still being quite common. So stating that "almost all swords from that age were generally quench hardened" is not accurate.
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PostPosted: Tue 24 May, 2011 2:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:
Johan Gemvik wrote:
I don't follow, exactly where does this link refute what I just said, in fact it supports my comment?
Well, if you read on through those examples, you will find examples without any steel in them still being quite common. So stating that "almost all swords from that age were generally quench hardened" is not accurate.


Correct. The diversity between various medieval swords is very interesting to say the least...

Johan Gemvik wrote:

So the Guide to the Metallurgy of the Edge Tools at the Davistown Museum Art of the Edge Tool is wrong then that they made steel as well as iron?
http://www.davistownmuseum.org/PDFs/Vol11_App...llurgy.pdf
Though I note they actually don't refer to the Hetites, or Hitites but another people.

Interesting overview, thanks for posting.

Especially the variety between the various methods used in the same period (Natural, German and Brescian steel for the late medieval period) is interesting. I was also not aware that cast steel was produced so early in Germany.
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PostPosted: Tue 24 May, 2011 7:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
Especially the variety between the various methods used in the same period (Natural, German and Brescian steel for the late medieval period) is interesting. I was also not aware that cast steel was produced so early in Germany.

I wouldn't put too much value in this kind of generalized information though, without the context, data the conclusions are based on. The evolution of the production of steel is far to complex to describe so briefly and with conclusions taken out of context. F.e. shear steel probably was produced much longer then the article suggests. But it was around that time that it became introduced on an industrial scale. Different methods of steel production have been in use throughout the world, not because one was the latest invention, but because they worked the most efficient for the technology available, the available starting material (wrought? cast? how much phosphor/sulphur?), location, fuel availability (charcoal? coal? cokes? how common/expensive was it?) , mechanisation of the forging (forging by hand, waterpowered hammers?) etc. The evolution of steel production is so complex, that even the best specialists in the field often write mistakes in their books, or make wrong generalizations.

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PostPosted: Tue 24 May, 2011 2:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johan Gemvik wrote:

So the Guide to the Metallurgy of the Edge Tools at the Davistown Museum Art of the Edge Tool is wrong then that they made steel as well as iron?
http://www.davistownmuseum.org/PDFs/Vol11_App...llurgy.pdf
Though I note they actually don't refer to the Hetites, or Hitites but another people..

You BS'd about the Hittites welding steel edges on iron tools at the time and I called you on it.
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PostPosted: Tue 24 May, 2011 4:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Johan Gemvik wrote:

So the Guide to the Metallurgy of the Edge Tools at the Davistown Museum Art of the Edge Tool is wrong then that they made steel as well as iron?
http://www.davistownmuseum.org/PDFs/Vol11_App...llurgy.pdf
Though I note they actually don't refer to the Hetites, or Hitites but another people..

You BS'd about the Hittites welding steel edges on iron tools at the time and I called you on it.


Dan, seriously, kindly adjust your attitude and your language. Kids may be reading you know and this is not a kindergarden game you "call someone on".
Also, I see this as a mature dsicussion on a very interesting subject, among equals. For we are equals you and I, a kindness I give freely and in all modesty and no less than I or anyone on this forum deserve in return from you. This is an extraordinary difficult subject where everyone will be right and wrong at times and it doesn't matter, only the end result of the intellectual exchange matters and what treasures we may find on the way.

I should have said Chalybeans not Hitites, off the top of my head my memory failed me on the name. But I think we can all agree the important part was the dating, not a specific culture or the spelling of one dead nation or another from 4000 years ago. 1900 BC is still correct from the sources I used (which may of course be faulty or incomplete as all sources can be), but for the Chalybeans.
Note that they are said by historians to have been a subject tribe of the Hitites.
You are absolutely correct that welding on may not have been the case, it's probably easier to carbuirize and turn the edge material into steel that can take a temper, something iron cannot do to anything but a very minor degree. Thist type of carurizing may even occur naturally if you inadvertently manage to coal up the iron. I was simplifying the process calling it "welded" so you'd easily understand what I was talking about, merging steel and iron qualities to an item. Not that it matters particularly for the point I was making or the tool produced historically. However, as neither of us have seen the item up close, or an in-depth metallurgical analysis and microphotography neither of us can know if an edge was welded on or carburized into the edge material.

By the way, here's another link. See page 6.
Handbook for Ironmongers: A Glossary of Ferrous Metallurgy Terms
http://www.scribd.com/doc/9663706/Glossary-of...urgy-Terms
This is a book also from the Davistown Museum.

"high quality steel edge tools" indicates a steel edge with a significant hardness to it, wouldn't you say? Still painfully short and noncommittal of scientific evidence. I'll keep digging, I'll find more eventually.

Also, a look at the top of this most interesting list:

"1900 BC First production of high quality steel edge tools by the Chalybeans from the high quality iron sands of the south shore of the Black Sea.
1200 BC End of the Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean region; steel isprobably being produced by the bloomery process.*
800 BC Carburizing and quenching are being practiced in the Near East.*
800 BC Beginning of the European Iron Age. Celtic metallurgists begin makingnatural steel in central and eastern Europe.
650 BC Widespread trading throughout Europe of iron currency bars, oftencontaining a significant percentage of raw steel
400 BC Tempered tools and evidence for the ‘steeling’ of iron from the Near East*
300 BC The earliest documented use of crucibles for steel production was thesmelting of Wootz steel in Muslim communities (Sherby 1995a).
200 BC Celtic metallurgists begin supplying the Roman Republic with swordsmade from manganese-laced iron ores mined in Austria (AncientNoricum).
55 BC Julius Caesar invades Britain50 BC Ancient Noricum is the main center of Roman Empire ironworks.Important iron producing centers are also located in the Black Mountainsof France and southern Spain.
43-410 AD Romans control Britain.
125 AD Steel is made in China by ‘co-fusion’.*
700 High quality pattern-welded swords being produced in the upper RhineRiver watershed forges by Merovingian swordsmiths from currency barssmelted in Austria and transported down the Iron Road to the DanubeRiver.
1000 First documented forge used by the Vikings at L’Anse aux Meadows(Newfoundland)"


"Descriptions with an * are excerpted from Barraclough (1984a)."

-Sounds like a good place to find more data, I'll look for this document. Professor Geoffrey Barraclough is actually pretty famous.

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PostPosted: Tue 24 May, 2011 4:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:
Johan Gemvik wrote:
I don't follow, exactly where does this link refute what I just said, in fact it supports my comment?
Well, if you read on through those examples, you will find examples without any steel in them still being quite common. So stating that "almost all swords from that age were generally quench hardened" is not accurate.

I see your point, there were swords made the way you describe and the number of finds suggest they were in fairly common use. However, you do agree there were also steel swords and/or part steel swords with a tempered edge around during the iron age?

Some could question if simple all iron swords can be classed as true proper swords, as in something that can take and keep a cutting edge and will be a serviceable weapon for more than a single strike or two. Depends on how you define it, but let's call them swords anyway.
Having made several swords by way of cold hammering and tested them on targets, proper steel edged weapons and armour I know they're not particularly resistant to wear and bending and barely class as much more than a percussive metal club after little use as the edge and tip bends and blunts quickly. They can be pretty effective clubs though, I certainly wouldn't want to be hit over the head with one. On second thought, they'd be far better than no sword at all and probably still decent versus the same type of iron weaponry and armour. Wink

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PostPosted: Tue 24 May, 2011 5:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johan Gemvik wrote:

Having made several swords by way of cold hammering and tested them on targets, proper steel edged weapons and armour I know they're not particularly resistant to wear and bending and barely class as much more than a percussive metal club after little use as the edge and tip bends and blunts quickly. They can be pretty effective clubs though, I certainly wouldn't want to be hit over the head with one. On second thought, they'd be far better than no sword at all and probably still decent versus the same type of iron weaponry and armour. Wink


Unless you formed these swords from phosphoric bloom iron (~0.7% P), this doesn't really tell us anything at all about how work-hardened iron swords performed historically.
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Alain D.





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PostPosted: Tue 24 May, 2011 5:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the responses everyone, this clears up a lot for me. Nice timeline and good links, much appreciated.
-Alain
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Tue 24 May, 2011 6:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dustin R. Reagan wrote:
Johan Gemvik wrote:

Having made several swords by way of cold hammering and tested them on targets, proper steel edged weapons and armour I know they're not particularly resistant to wear and bending and barely class as much more than a percussive metal club after little use as the edge and tip bends and blunts quickly. They can be pretty effective clubs though, I certainly wouldn't want to be hit over the head with one. On second thought, they'd be far better than no sword at all and probably still decent versus the same type of iron weaponry and armour. Wink


Unless you formed these swords from phosphoric bloom iron (~0.7% P), this doesn't really tell us anything at all about how work-hardened iron swords performed historically.


Well, it can tell us some about it, but I most certainly agree it's not the whole picture.
On the other hand, this works both ways, do feel free to show me the scientific data representing that any form of iron can be work hardened to a higher degree than the modern high quality cold rolled steel I was using. It may be so that it can, but without proof it's just as much guesswork. Or more so, as I've at least tried to do some basic tests with a similar but readily available material.

Something to be certain of though is that what we'd call proper hardness in a durable edge in modern day is not achievable with cold hammering of any ferritic material known to man but straightforward to make with high carbon steel, quenching and annealing with a red hot bar or lump.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge


Last edited by Johan Gemvik on Wed 25 May, 2011 9:47 am; edited 2 times in total
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Dustin R. Reagan





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PostPosted: Tue 24 May, 2011 6:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johan Gemvik wrote:
Dustin R. Reagan wrote:
Johan Gemvik wrote:

Having made several swords by way of cold hammering and tested them on targets, proper steel edged weapons and armour I know they're not particularly resistant to wear and bending and barely class as much more than a percussive metal club after little use as the edge and tip bends and blunts quickly. They can be pretty effective clubs though, I certainly wouldn't want to be hit over the head with one. On second thought, they'd be far better than no sword at all and probably still decent versus the same type of iron weaponry and armour. Wink


Unless you formed these swords from phosphoric bloom iron (~0.7% P), this doesn't really tell us anything at all about how work-hardened iron swords performed historically.


Well, it can tell us some about it, but I most certainly agree it's not the whole picture.
On the other hand, this works both ways, do feel free to show me the scientific data representing that any form of iron can be work hardened to a higher degree than the modern high quality cold rolled steel I was using. It may be so that it can, but without proof it's just as much guesswork.


From the wikipedia:

"The strength and hardness of iron increases with the concentration of phosphorus. 0.05% phosphorus in wrought iron makes it as hard as medium carbon steel. High phosphorus iron can also be hardened by cold hammering. The hardening effect is true for any concentration of phosphorus. The more phosphorus, the harder the iron becomes and the more it can be hardened by hammering. Modern steel makers can increase hardness by as much as 30%, without sacrificing shock resistance by maintaining phosphorus levels between 0.07 and 0.12%. It also increases the depth of hardening due to quenching, but at the same time also decreases the solubility of carbon in iron at high temperatures. This would decrease its usefulness in making blister steel (cementation), where the speed and amount of carbon absorption is the overriding consideration(Rostoker & Bronson 1990, p. 22)."

Also, 3rd paragraph down:
http://books.google.com/books?id=osSG7ceTGekC...mp;f=false
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