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Iron, Steel and Swords - a very readable hyperscript for material science


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I find myself enjoying the ramblings course material of a professor at Kiel University which explores the material science and all the other "need-to-know" information on swords and metallurgy, and while Gloranthan iron has little to do with the material described in these lecture notes, the discourses about swords, history etc. are written in a somewhat wry and quite informative style. The text makes a point of connecting the art of making (and drinking) beer with the emergence of swords, for instance... and links to a scientific article on the earliest beer recipe written in proto-cuneiform, even older than the Gilgamesh epic.

The material lacks of course the link to the Storm element that is special about Gloranthan swords. But the violence implication is in the text.

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Having done a bit more of reading, this site really is a treasure trove of all kinds of things useful to know while you might be exposed to some knowledge about materials science.

Here's a quote about phases (different states one and the same material can take):

Quote


Different phases of the same material may have very different properties. Tell your betrothed-to-be that the lump of graphite in that engagement ring you gave her is practically the same as a diamond, and she will tell you far more about the relative merits of different phases of the same element than you ever wanted to know.

The script has among others a good account of the discovery of metal in the ancient world (mentioning the Varna culture for its first wide-spread used of copper tools, giving a nod to the Cucuteni-Tripolye culture), and has a collection of images on the encounter of Leda and the Swan (the event that led to the hatching of Helen, most beautiful woman of the ancient world).

The observations on the use of native (metallic) copper by the first metal users are extremely on point for Gloranthan metal-working.

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Have you ever heard about Luristan? I needed the pointer from this course work.

Basically, they were a bronze-using horse culture in northern Iran about 1000 BC, without a written language, but leaving behind a treasure trove of bronze items and early iron swords. Just the archaeological kind of reference you might want for your Glorantha art.

https://www.tf.uni-kiel.de/matwis/amat/iss/kap_b/articles/overlaet_bronzes_luristan.pdf

I love the ornamented cheek pieces on these horse bits. What do your heroes use?

luri_horsy.jpg

 

(This piece of Luristan bronze work resides in the Tokyo museum.)

 

If you want images of bronze blades, the linked pdf has more than you will need in a normal lifetime spent outside of a foundry or smithy.

 

Luristan is also the source of (90!) surviving iron blades from the earliest blacksmithing activities known in history, and some scientific work was done on blades retrieved by undocumented robber digs and auctioned world wide. Here's a scientific report on the results:

https://www.tf.uni-kiel.de/matwis/amat/iss/kap_b/advanced/ab_1_2a.html

Edited by Joerg
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