Bronze and iron arms and armor

Topics: Bronze, Copper, Steel Pages: 3 (1037 words) Published: October 11, 2013
Bronze and iron weaponry, report

I chose this material as it’s properties can be easily related back to physics, also I am interested in ancient history and wanted to find out more about the construction of ancient weaponry and the metal that gave birth to the modern world

The earliest bronze was a copper and arsenic alloy, though copper ore is naturally contaminated with arsenic it is unclear why or if ancient civilizations added more on purpose as it doesn’t provide any benefits and actually makes the material quite poisonous, the earliest copper arsenic alloy was discovered in the Iranian plateau (formally Mesopotamia) otherwise known as the cradle of civilisation in around 5000BC however this predates the bronze age as we know it by around 2000 years.

By 3000BC Copper tin alloys had been discovered, this made the bronze far more workable and a lot harder meaning it could be used for more practical applications which at the time were jewellery and ornaments and after a few hundred more years when smelting techniques had been honed, pretty much every weapon around Europe and Asia was made of a tin bronze alloy.

Iron as an alternative
Most people think that the discovery of iron brought an end to the bronze age but it was not until cast iron, a low carbon iron alloy, was first discovered that it became usable, the first iron was almost totally pure after being smelted this made it incredibly soft due to the regular crystalline atomic structure, even more so than bronze, it was only used due to iron ores availability, in the roman empire, foot soldiers would use iron swords as they were easy to mass produce but generals would prefer to carry bronze as they corroded more slowly and could be sharpened to a finer edge. Bronze has hardness on the brinell scale of around 75-85 but wrought iron has a brinell hardness of only 60, making bronze more suitable for all applications until iron carbon alloys were produced.

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