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Old 6th January 2009, 12:55 PM   #21
Chris Evans
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 584

Hi Gonzalo,

Originally Posted by Gonzalo G
Chris, I am confused by your words. I understand that old steels were made with bloomery iron, and not sponge iron.

The stuff that comes out a bloomery is sponge iron, a miture of iron and slag. See

Or instead, decarburizing cast iron with high carbon content, which is more easily molten at lower temperatures.

That is another way of making steel, but it's a later development. See

I feel much of the discussion about wootz is biased by speculations which tend to maximize, or instead, minimize, the value of this type of steel, making statements above of the facts. It is scientifically healthy to have some dose of scepticism in front of myths and distortions. But the fact is that we donīt have enough samples of wootz blades, studied and tested, and even less scientific comparisons among wootz blades and european blades from the same period.

I totally agree.

On the other side, it seems that there is another manuscript from Al Kindi dedicated to the thermal treatments of the blades made with wootz, which is not yet printed, though I understand maybe there is already an italian traslation.

I look forward to reading it.

I still believe the articles about viking swords refer to a relatively clean high carbon crucible steel, and not to wootz.

Allowing for some ambiguity, Wootz is crucible steel. See

The swedish article mentions the presence of 0,8% refined carbon steel in one of the edges of the studied sword, and 0,4 to 0,6% carbon steel on the other edge. This opens the possibility of speculate about some specialization among the different edges of the viking swords, or at least in some of them, but it is only a good? pretext to continue our conversation.

Around 0.8% would have been optimal, but controlling carbon content is not easy - We must not forget that the ancient swordsmiths did not even know that steel was iron+carbon. Chance played a large part in the manufacture of ancient steel and this is why really good blades attained legendary status, in other words they were rare.

Some of the viking swords seem to be very complex in their structure, not because they are multilaminated in the japanese way, but because they have many different types of steels and irons in their composition, all welded in the make of the blade.

This kind of solution is not less sofisticated, or work intensive, than the japanese nihonto, in my opinion, but this is said with no regard of the differences on their success to have the best relation metallurgy-geometry-design, or to do with more effciency the expected job, as it is another very difficult subject to discuss with some scientific basis. Of course, this are only some of my ideas, and I can be wrong.

Well, my take on this is that a sword, indeed any weapon has to be only good enough to get the job done. Any more does not win wars.

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