- Dec 2012
HK do you know when did steel or iron for that matter become the main tool for both civilian usage or military?On the contrast, the Han Empire was a real steel age society with blast furnace technology, whereas the Roman Empire was still only mostly using wrought iron or very low carbon iron fueled by less temperature bloomery furnaces. This has already been posted in post 336:
Most classical ancient western tools and weapons found are still wrought iron or very low carbon iron.
To quote Alan W. Pense, "Iron through the Ages" again:
"These products had varying but generally low carbon contents and the occasional slag stringers typical of wrought iron. Average hardnesses were also low for these artifacts, typically less than 200 HV. Based on the microstructures and hardness levels achieved in other artifacts, it is assumed that ways to improve their hardness were known, but deemed to be either too labor intensive or incapable of providing sufficient benefit in performance to merit employing them."
To quote Pense in more detail on a Roman spear blade that had signs of heat treatment:
"These microstructural features suggest that the
temperature during the manufacturing process was
erratic, sometimes subcritical, sometimes above the
critical, and rarely high or long enough to allow
transformations to approach equilibrium. These
micrographs also indicate another characteristic of
many of the artifacts, especially the early ones. They
were evidently produced by consolidating many
small pieces of iron together to make the raw material
for production. This must have been a very labor intensive
"Indeed piling was beyond the capabilities of many Celtic smiths who simply made swords out of wrought iron."
From: "Knights and Blast Furnace" Alan Williams. p.9
The difference with ancient Chinese quenching:
“对徐州狮子山楚王陵出土的4件凿刀的金相分析表明,该4件凿刀都经过对刀头的局部淬火处理,以获得刀头硬 、刀体韧的效果。对在山东苍山汉墓出土的环首钢刀、陕西扶风汉墓钢剑和汉代刘胜错金书刀的分析也表明,这些 刀剑仅在刃部观察到马氏体,剑的脊部未见淬火组织，可见我国先民至迟在公元前二世纪已掌握了局部淬火技术。 ”
"In a study of the 4 blades unearthed from Xuzhou, Shizi mountain, the king of Chu's tomb, the edge of the blades were all deferentially quenched, makin the edge hard and the body of the sword soft. In the Huanshou Steel swords found at the Han tomb at Cang mountain, the steel sword found at Shanxi Fufeng and the Cuojinshu swords of Liu Sheng of the Han period also shows evidence of martensite at the blades, the spine of the sword does not have quenching, this shows that the people residing in our country in the past in the 2nd century BC already understood differential heat treatment."