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The making and selling of wootz, a crucible steel of India

Published on Jan 1, 1986
Bennet Bronson1
Estimated H-index: 1
Abstract
The paper focuses on the history and ethnology of wootz, a traditional crucible steel from India, made from the second century AD on, that is best known as the raw material for Damascus swords. Much of what has been written about wootz over the past two centuries is incorrect; when the myths have been cleared away, wootz appears in a new light. It was made in the Middle East as well as in India. More than one process existed for making it. It had a number of distinct uses, some of them having nothing to do with weapons. Contrary to the assertions of various ancient and modern authorities, there is little evidence that wootz was a supersteel. It made excellent wire and handsome display weapons, but among fighting men it had a long-standing and seemingly deserved reputation for dangerous brittleness. The author presents a critical review of the early literature with historical perspective, summarizes and evaluates eye-witness accounts of wootz-making, and, after describing the individual regional processes, states that we should temper our expectations with regard to the antiquity of wootz processes and our expectations about rediscovering ancient technological secrets that will lead to the production of supersteels on superweapons in our own day.
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Published on Jan 1, 2018
Brett Sanford Kaufman3
Estimated H-index: 3
(UIUC: University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign)
For every designed object or product, engineers, smiths, and artisans keep in mind societal norms and taboos such as sustainable materials, tasteful morphology, tactile sensations, aesthetic concerns, health and safety, and cost that will largely determine if the object is desired or rejected by the consumer. Metal objects in prehistoric, ancient, and historical eras were conceived, designed, and produced within specific cultural contexts that dictated their usefulness and marketability, much as...
1 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jun 11, 2017in Materials and Manufacturing Processes 2.67
Sharada Srinivasan5
Estimated H-index: 5
(National Institute of Advanced Studies)
ABSTRACTAs European and Mediterranean accounts indicate, India has been famed for the production of steel, apparently made by crucible processes. Late medieval traveler’s accounts record the making of “wootz” steel in several places in southern India. This material was used for the fabled Damascus swords, which were later found to be of ultrahigh-carbon steel. Whereas studies on Asian crucible steel making from India, Central Asia and Sri Lanka have discussed various processes ranging from co-fu...
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Published on Mar 1, 2016in Microchemical Journal 2.75
F. Grazzi11
Estimated H-index: 11
,
E. Barzagli5
Estimated H-index: 5
+ 4 AuthorsM. Zoppi17
Estimated H-index: 17
Abstract The analysis of the micro-structural features of ancient Indian swords has been carried out by neutron diffraction as well as by metallography. The results provide a clear identification of the different materials used to produce those weapons. Only a small proportion of the large number of swords produced in India historically were made of hypereutectoid textured steel, namely wootz steel also (misleadingly) known as “Damascus steel”. Diffraction analysis was applied to a group of four...
4 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 2016
Ervan G. Garrison7
Estimated H-index: 7
(UGA: University of Georgia)
This chapter may seem somewhat unusual to those readers more accustomed to other discussions of archaeometallurgy. Typical of those researches, one often finds the focus on the metal artifact foremost with ancillary areas such as manufacturing, utilization, and provenance archaeological/geochemical) examined at various levels of detail. These emphases are important and well placed particularly from the standpoint of the materials science, but it is the aim of this chapter to characterize archaeo...
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Published on Nov 1, 2013in Journal of Archaeological Science 3.06
Jang-Sik Park7
Estimated H-index: 7
(Hongik University),
Vasant Shinde7
Estimated H-index: 7
(Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute)
Abstract Ordinary iron objects from an ancient habitation site at Junnar in India, dating to the 2nd BC to AD 2nd century, were examined for their microstructure, chemical composition and age. The objects were mostly made of high carbon steel with a homogeneous microstructure consisting of fine spherical particles of carbide in the ferrite background, free of non-metallic inclusions. Their carbon concentration ranged from 0.7% to over 1.6% with one exception at 0.2%. Some of them contained trace...
3 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 2010
J. Le Coze9
Estimated H-index: 9
('ENS Paris': École Normale Supérieure)
Le mot Wootz est apparu en Europe a la fin du xviii e siecle, environ un siecle apres la premiere description par un voyageur francais de lingots en acier fondu au creuset. L’expression « acier de Damas » etait deja utilisee, mais la nature de ces aciers etait inconnue avant le xix e siecle, alors que leur production etait decrite dans les pays arabes depuis au moins le xi e siecle. Il semble surprenant qu’aucune connaissance technique de ces aciers n’ait ete transmise d’Est en Ouest pendant les...
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Published on Dec 1, 2009in Journal of World Prehistory 3.19
Praveena Gullapalli1
Estimated H-index: 1
(RIC: Rhode Island College)
In South India early metal artifacts, usually associated with megalithic sites, include both copper and iron. Although in some cases copper artifacts predate those made of iron, there is no evidence of an extensive metallurgical tradition based on copper and its alloys. Typological studies have had limited success in explaining the megalithic sites and the production and consumption of metal, while other approaches have not explicitly addressed the social contexts of metal production. While ther...
8 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 2009
Sharada Srinivasan5
Estimated H-index: 5
,
Carla M. Sinopoli9
Estimated H-index: 9
+ 4 AuthorsThilo Rehren21
Estimated H-index: 21
This paper is based on studies of the use and modes of production of higher carbon iron alloys in relation to surface finds from Iron Age and early historic sites in southern India, in particular the site of Kadebakele where recent excavations have revealed finds of iron and steel, some of which according to preliminary studies, seem to be of a higher carbon content. Preliminary comparative studies are also made on surface finds of crucibles related to high carbon steel production at Mel-siruval...
4 Citations
Published on Nov 1, 2008in Journal of Global History 0.95
Tirthankar Roy16
Estimated H-index: 16
(LSE: London School of Economics and Political Science)
This article explores the origins of divergent technological pathways in the early modern world, and the role that artisanal knowledge played in this process. It rejects older explanations based on societal differences in entrepreneurial propensities and incentives, and a more modern one based on factor cost. It argues instead for the importance of conditions that facilitated transactions between complementary skills. In India, the institutional setting within which artisan techniques were learn...
7 Citations Source Cite
P E McGovern3
Estimated H-index: 3
(UPenn: University of Pennsylvania),
J. Lazar1
Estimated H-index: 1
(DuPont),
R H Michel3
Estimated H-index: 3
(UPenn: University of Pennsylvania)
9 Citations Source Cite