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Wrought Iron History

3000 B.C.

Egyptians used iron axes and chisels

1300 B.C.

Use of Papyrus, pen, and ink for writing in Egypt

1300-1100 B.C.

Increasing use of iron in Western Asia

551- 479 B.C.

Confucius in China

500 B.C.

Iron plow in China

300 B.C.

Wrought iron in China

200 B.C.

Use of iron in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Iron Age followed both the Stone Age and the Bronze Age. It started about 1200 B.C. But it is also known that around 3000 B.C. the Egyptians were using iron axes and chisels. The Hittite warriors who came from Asia Minor (present day Turkey ) were fighting with iron swords and other weapons.

Archaeologists place the Bronze Age before the Iron Age. “Though iron was known to have been extracted from ores by prehistoric man and used by the Egyptians almost nine thousand years ago, archaeologists date the beginning of the Iron Age about 1200 B.C.”

Early iron workers did not understand the need to reduce the carbon content of iron by remelting it for a second time. The hammering of the ingots would expel the carbon and other impurities to produce mallable iron. As a result this early iron was similar to cast iron and very brittle.

The blacksmith was considered to be a sorcerer with magical powers, using fire and water to convert matter itself. Ancient blacksmiths were revered as sorcerers, because of their ability to forge the very earth into useful tools with the aid of hot fire. Blacksmiths appear in Greek mythology as Hephaestus and in the Roman mythology as Vulcan. In fact, there was a cooperative of blacksmiths in the Roman republic between the 4 th and 1 st centuries B.C.

The importance of blacksmith in the middle Ages was well recorded in a famous document when the Blacksmiths of Pisa, Italy were accorded privileges and concessions by the Archbishop Dalberto in 1095 and reconfirmed by his successor. During the same period, however, many towns had written into their bylaws that the enchanting and satanic art of the blacksmith should not be performed and that apprentices should not be tought – on a penalty of death.

By the late middle Ages, wrought iron was decoratively utilized in churches, castles and cathedrals. Wrought Iron was considered beautiful enough to be inlaid with gold and precious stones. The metalworking art continued to flourish through the Baroque period, producing very fine products and decorations. The first examples of iron ornamentation in Europe were Winchester Cathedral in England and Notre Dame in Paris , France .

Today, wrought iron is used for a large range of industrial, commercial and residential projects. Examples of its use include iron bridges, building structures, home furnishings and furniture decoration.


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