Ancient black smithing iron age

I was wondering how an iron age black smith shop would be set up and equiped. And what the smiths day to day duties might be.

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    Greetings and Salutations.
On Mon, 8 Dec 2003 16:38:39 -0800, "Mark Webber"

    Man...does this sound like a world history assignment in high school or what?     However, I would suggest that your BEST bet would be to goto the local library and poke through some archeology and anthropology books. Use several sources and make sure that they all agree on a point before stating it as a fact in the paper. Be sure not to plagerise, and provide a complete bibliography.     Also, there *are* folks online that discuss the Iron age at length... here, for example: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Iron-Age-Ireland /     Regards     Dave Mundt
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There was a BBC show on PBS several months ago called something like "Surviving the Iron Age." One of those new living history type shows like Frontier House and such, but took place somewhere in the UK at a rebuilt Celtic village. The people participating in the program lived as Iron Age Celts for a couple months, partly with a goal of building a bellows and successfully forging iron. I didn't catch all of it, but what I saw was pretty cool.
Check out the website for the program at:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/programmes/surviving_ironage/index.shtml
Michael
On Mon, 8 Dec 2003 16:38:39 -0800, "Mark Webber"

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Which iron age are you talking about? African? Chinese? Celtic? I suspect that while there were similarities, the various cultures would have approached smithing with many detail differences. I don't know, but you may find that there's more of a similarity between your local welding shop and a European iron age blacksmith than there is between the European guy and a Chinese iron age smith.
I found a site that gave pretty good detail on the Greek iron age day when I was looking for information on heat treating. I never did find detailed instructions on hardening 4140 or 1050 steel, but I did find out about iron back when it was the cheap stuff (bronze has much better properties for weaponry than the early iron -- we needed to figure out how to make steel before it was the material of choice for swords).

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On Mon, 8 Dec 2003, Mark Webber wrote:

Where was he, and how far back? If you mean a couple thousand years ago, even then it would depend. An African might be making mostly hoes and spearheads, with occasional ceremonial pieces. A Celtic smith might be welding iron tires for chariot wheels--a process they invented IIRC. In many areas, converting iron scrap and tools into urgently needed items was important, in areas like the Mediterranean where iron was scarce and expensive. (This is where the biblical references of beating plowshares into swords, and swords into plowshares, come from--a typical peasant/warrior often didn't have enough iron for both farm tools and weapons, so the smith converted them according to whether the need was farm work or fending off an invasion.)
In large cities, some smiths might already be specialists, making cutlery or housewares/hardware or armor. A smith with an army would be mostly maintaining and repairing armor and weapons, with the occasional job of hardware for a seige engine or the like. A smith at a mine would spend most of his days dressing picks and other tools, and occasionally shackling a slave or fixing something.
That far back, most everyone used charcoal for forge fuel, though green hardwood and thick bark can be used, and probably was used in some places back then. Air supply varied greatly, from Malay featherduster-pistons in bamboo cylinders, to goatskins with a guy's foot over an intake hole and a strap to hold it in place during the intake stroke (the foot served as a valve as well as a means of forcing the air out of the tuyere). Or, simplest of all, a bunch of your buddies standing around blowing through bamboo tubes, as was done in parts of Africa.
Many of these forges would be simple pits in clay soil, with a pottery tip on the side or bottom-draft tuyere to take the heat. Sometimes the mud forge would be raised in a wooden box with legs, or an earthen platform, to a more comfortable working height. Or built of stone, tile or brick in an established town.
Iron was _really_ expensive, so metal anvils were extremely rare until the last few hundred years, and the first ones were quite small. A thousand years ago, a Viking smith would do his rough forging on a stone anvil, and have a small anvil (like a modern jeweler's stake) set into a stump for finishing the surface. I've used stone anvils, and even a tough hard stone powders away from the heat and pounding in short order, leaving a rough texture on the work. The Chinese inventors of cast iron used it for anvils among many other things--they might crack occasionally but far less often than a stone anvil does! One of the more thrilling moments in experimental archaeology is when forty pounds of basalt splits off your anvil without warning and heads for your feet. There are all kinds of legends about lame blacksmiths, and I have no trouble at all imagining how they started!
Tongs, hammers, files and the like go back at least a thousand years, and often look quite familiar to us, though regional styles vary. I've seen photos of pickaxe heads, from the very early Iron Age of three thousand years ago, that had forge-welded steel tips on wrought-iron heads that look identical to the pick heads used by the Forty-Niners, so the essentials of forge welding and the understanding of the virtues of steel go back a long way.
Because iron was expensive it was endlessly recycled, and finds of really old tools are rare. We have literary references from Homer, from the Old Testament, from other old sources that often go back further than our archaeological evidence, though Pompeii's smithy and lucky finds like the Mastermyr from Sweden (an whole set of blacksmith's tools, still in his toolbox, apparently lost when a boat capsized crossing a lake) give us actual tools, not just products, of working smiths back then.
Conrad Hodson
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wrote:

A few groups have made replicas of the Mastermyr chest
http://www.irontreeworks.com/mastermyr.htm http://www.angelfire.com/wy/svenskildbiter/Viking/vikchest.html
(I make replica chests myself - Mastermyr is well known source material)
-- Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods
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I've worked with Daniel Kretchmar of Irontree, and I've seen that Mastermyr replica. It's gorgeous.
Daniel
Andy Dingley wrote:

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Footnote:
I just received an e-mail from Daniel Kretchmar, and he will be bringing the Mastermyr replica to Warriors & Warlords SCA event again next summer, middle of July. Those attending can view the replica close up! It's a hands-on exhibit. That'll be the second year this has been available at that particular event.
Daniel
Daniel Dillman wrote:

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On Tue, 9 Dec 2003, Andy Dingley wrote:

Cool aren't they? Have you ever done those Norse chest locks with the twin hasps? They're my favorite--stick a key in the center keyhole, turn 90 degrees and slide, and the hasps pop open on either side.
If you haven't seen it, there's a sort of large pamphlet called _Early Chests in Wood and Iron_, from Her Majesty's Stationery Office if I remember right, with photos and descriptions of about a dozen medieval chests. Cool book, and some of them shown clearly enough to reconstruct.
Conrad Hodson
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wrote:

Christmas present chest (not much smithing though) http://codesmiths.com/shed/things/boxes/sarah /
(More Christmas, more smithing this time) http://codesmiths.com/shed/things/sundial /

No - haven't heard of those. I quite fancy making something with a complex lock. Got any refs for a picture ?

Haven't seen it - at nearly $4/page from Abebooks I don't think Im likely to !
-- Congrats to STBL on his elevation from TLA to ETLA
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Andy Dingley snipped-for-privacy@codesmiths.com
wrt Conrad's post
(I make replica chests myself - <snips>

I like the open mortise joinery. Was wondering what Hansa period locking mechanics would have been? Frank Morrison
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On 02 Jan 2004 01:26:05 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Fdmorrison) wrote:

I both like it and hate it ! They're very quick and easy to cut, and when pegged they're quite strong (although I used bamboo pegs rather than hardwood). It's a traditional technique for both Japan and Norse work.
But I only use them when they're hidden. If a woodworker sees them, they're likely to regard them as a short-cut hack by someone who didn't want to cut "real" dovetails.

Padlocks are period, but for a real cash strongbox the "Armada Chest" was more likely. These are rectangular wooden chests with iron strapping all around, and a complex lock that fills the entire lid.
However the locking mechanism of the period (for both padlocks and installed locks) would have been barbed bolts and a key that slid over them to push the barbs inward. Such locks are still made in India today, and were in traditional use for Japanese tansu throughout their history, but they disappeared in the West in favour of warded locks and a simpler bolt. The bolt is prone to manipulation and being slid back, but it can be bigger and stronger against a sideways brute-force.
-- Congrats to STBL on his elevation from TLA to ETLA
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On Thu, 2 Jan 2004, Fdmorrison wrote:

An amazing variety, actually. Their locksmithing wasn't very close in the tolerances (this is like saying that the Statue of Liberty is a large bronze casting job) so there were only a limited number of lock/key variations possible in a given design. This put a premium on using a wide variety of lock designs, and they did. I've seen pin-and-tumbler locks made entirely out of carved wood, lots of variations on the sliding key that compresses locksprings and makes the lockbar small enough to slip out of the case (the Chinese are still making padlocks on this principle), the chest lock I mentioned, where the key has sideways prongs that lift jamming springs over a lip when the key is turned to allow the lockbar to slide, and various skeleton-key types. The Persians had all those and added cylindrical keys with square threads that had to be screwed into the lock (the threads were square rod wrapped around a round shank and brazed into place, not lathe-turned).
Those are just the types I know about, and I'm quite sure that there are others, because I've seen pictures of locks that fit none of these descriptions, but the sources didn't give enough info for me to list them here.
Conrad Hodson
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Sorry for being an compulsive proofreader, but the Statue of Liberty is beaten copper sheet over an iron frame.
http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/Statue_of_Liberty.html

-- snip --

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On Tue, 6 Jan 2004, Tim Wescott wrote:

I sit corrected!
Conrad Hodson
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On Thu, 1 Jan 2004, Andy Dingley wrote:

Tre Tryckare's _The Viking_ (not actually an author, that's the name of the publisher, in Gothenburg, Sweden) has illustrations on p.174. The caption/description is very confusing, until you realize that it's a book written by a bunch of Scandinavians, in English, and printed in Spain. A few proofreading errors have crept in. :-)
The illos and captions both make perfect sense, once you realize that the layout people inverted the drawings. Once I understood that everything was shown from the point of view of a guy standing on his head inside the chest, actually building the thing seemed easy by comparison.
The same page has a couple of drawings of a Norse padlock, and those are clear and right side up. What the book does _not_ show are the positions of forge welds or (often) fasteners, and they don't show scale either. I built an oil lamp from this book and it was years before I learned I'd made it twice the size of the original.
Conrad Hodson
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On Mon, 8 Dec 2003 16:38:39 -0800, "Mark Webber"
Here's a Saxon site, in Essex http://www.angelfire.com/pa5/arch/index.html
-- Smert' spamionam
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Thanks you have all been very helpful

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Hello all I am looking for information on the components of a smithy from the late middle ages through the renaissance. If any one has information on books or internet sites or anything else on the subjec that might help me it would be appreaceated.
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"bob" snipped-for-privacy@cybertrails.com
wrt medieval blacksmithing information
Although Georgius Agricola's "De Re Metallica," first published in 1556, is overall a text on mining, there is much on smithing and smelting, and many, many illustrations of the old methods of work/power transmission. Dover had published a translation by former president Herbert Hover and his brother Lou Hoover. I purchased a copy through the Early American Industries Association about 20 years ago.
Frank Morrison
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