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Ref ID: 22387
Ref Type: Book Section
Authors: Williams, Alan
Title: Crucible steel in medieval European and Indian swords
Date: 2015
Source: Metals and civilizations
Place of Publication: Bangalore, India
Publisher: National Institute of Advanced Studies
Notes: Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on the Beginnings of the Use of Metals and Alloys (BUMA VII)
Abstract: Specimens from many swords of the Viking period (between the 9th and 11th centuries CE) with “Ulfberht” or related inscriptions have been studied by metallography in the Wallace Collection, as well as by WDX-ray spectroscopy at the National Physical Laboratory. The steel that the makers of some of these swords used was a hypereutectoid steel which does not resemble any other swords made in Western Europe either before or afterwards. It was during this period that a Viking trade route between the Baltic Sea and Iran flourished, and the manufacture of these swords ceases when this route is closed. Their origin appears to be an early form of crucible steel from Central Asia. There are, it may be observed, numerous written references to Indian swords by Medieval European writers, suggesting that another trade route (probably via Muslim Spain) was bringing the knowledge of Indian steel to Europe. Many counterfeits of these swords were made, with variant spellings of the name “Ulfberht”. None of these, nor indeed any later medieval swords (after 1000 CE) so far examined, show the use of hypereuctoid steels, so it may be deduced that their metallurgy correlates with the different spellings of the maker’s name. Some examples of Indian arms and armour (including a number from the Arsenal of Hyderabad) have been examined by metallography
the results of which are contrasted. Their microstructures show different forms of crucible steel, which have been further improved by various methods of heat-treatment.
Date Created: 4/11/2016
Editors: Srinivasam, Sharada
Ranganathan, Srinivasa
Giumlia-Mair, Alessandra
Page Start: 198
Page End: 204