Join Date: May 2006
Ariel & Marius.
I know a little bit about working with meteoritic material because I have worked with it.
Using fragments of the Arizona meteorite, I have made small billets of clean ready to use meteoritic iron, these small billets could have been made bigger if I had had sufficient meteorite, or they could have been made into very small blades as they were.
However, I used this refined meteoritic material to make damascus blades by incorporating it with iron and steel.
Two small billets of meteoritic material that I made were given to a Pande Keris in Solo with instructions to make two keris. The first keris he made was unsatisfactory and it was sold, the second keris he made is a part of my collection.
I worked with pure meteorite and the product I produced was pure meteorite, which was later combined with other material. There is an easier way to work with meteorite than the one I chose, but I worked with the pure material because I considered this to be a matter of work ethic.
The easier way to work with meteorite is detailed in a text book that was prepared at the request of the Surakarta Karaton. We are uncertain exactly which ruler of Surakarta ordered its preparation, but it was probably Pakubuwana X, and the Empu providing the information was probably Jayasukadgo.
In this text book, the meteoritic material being addressed is the Prambanan Meteorite. The method detailed involves making a small, thin-walled iron packet, putting small pieces of meteoritic material into the packet, closing the packet, bringing it to weld heat and then taking the weld. This initial weld will unite the pieces of meteorite, after which the material can be cleaned (refined) in the usual way.
It would be possible to weld two pieces of meteorite in a charcoal forge, but they would need to be fairly large pieces, it would be virtually impossible to weld small pieces of meteorite in a charcoal or coke forge. If a single large piece of meteor was available, this would be easier still. I had only very small pieces of meteorite to work with, and when I was working with this material in the late 1980's, it was very, very expensive material. I used a gas forge to weld and refine it.
To return to the question of what raw material was used in early iron blades, and how it was processed.
Meteoritic material will break up under the hammer. It is necessary to bring the pieces of meteorite together while they are still in the fire, they will then stick together. Then it is necessary to tap them together on the anvil until the adhesion is firm. If you hammer in a normal fashion they will simply fly into a thousand pieces. Once the first weld has been taken it becomes progressively easier. You add a small piece of meteorite at a time until you have a good sized lump, then fold and weld until there are no little star-like sparks generated at weld heat. It is not rocket science, it is simply application of logic, together with a smidgen of knowledge.
There was an overlap of bronze working technology and iron working technology. There can be no doubt of this. Since there was an overlap, it seems reasonable to assume that early iron artifacts, whether blades or something else, might have been produced by casting technology similar to that used in bronze production.
However, bronze production rested firmly upon the ability of potters to produce vessels capable of withstanding temperatures of 1700F.
To me, the big question is if the potters at this time in history were able to produce vessels capable of withstanding temperatures of 2800F.
However, a small fire in an earth depression and given a continuous infusion of air by the use of bellows can reach +2800F without a great deal of difficulty.
As Ariel has noted:- Occam rules.
The easiest, most obvious way to do something is usually the way something is done.