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Old 22nd December 2017, 03:36 AM   #67
Timo Nieminen
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Join Date: Mar 2012
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Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
prior to 1323BC who had the technology that could forge weld iron or could cast iron?

"Who?" is the difficult question.

As you noted, while it takes high temperatures to forge weld iron, it's otherwise low-tech:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Meteoritic material was used in Sub-Saharan Africa, and it was worked in primitive forges; the original Javanese/Balinese forges were not much more than a depression in the ground with air delivered to the fire through bambu tubes from feather bellows. You do not need high technology to weld iron. In fact, the traditional type of "hole in the ground" forge is still in use in some parts of Jawa, and probably is still in use in some parts of Bali.

A hole in the ground, charcoal, a blower, a rock as an anvil and a rock as a hammer:

Casting (low-carbon) iron or steel is much more technologically demanding, and I know of nobody doing it before the Industrial Evolution. The Chinese were casting cast iron about 2000 years ago, but "cast iron" has a quite low melting point (about 1200C/2200F) since it's a saturated carbon solution (typically 3%-4% carbon).

Iron forging/welding technology might have preceding iron smelting technology. First, it allows small pieces of meteoric or telluric iron (native iron, i.e., naturally occurring metallic iron of terrestrial origin) to be used to make larger objects than would be possible without welding. Second, it appears that there was occasional accidental smelting of iron in the copper industry, when iron oxide was used a flux in copper smelting (and temperature got a little higher than needed for copper smelting).

So there was motivation for forge welding iron. Forge welding of copper alloys and gold was already known, so the basic idea was there. Judging by the history of the techniques, forge welding iron is much easier than casting (low carbon) iron.

But "Who?" is a difficult question to answer.
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