|When I started these "Early Swords" modules, i was considering swords and only swords as embodiments of complex high-end objects of early iron and steel technology. Then I read Vincent Pigotts paper "The emergence of iron use at Hasanlu" and learned about a complex decorated iron quiver. Here it is:|
|The paper states:
"The iron panels on this quiver from Hasanlu lVB
were decorated by cold working to form raised figures of people and animals.
Easily recognizable near the bottom is the figure of an archer shooting a stag.
The round bosses and studs are of bronze."
Hasanlu iron is typically heavily corroded and I could not find an actual picture of the quiver.
|We have a sheet of iron, about (20 x 60) cm2 in size and - I'm guessing - 0,1 cm - 0,2 cm thick. A fine pattern is "cold-worked" into the metal. What does it take to do this? Quite a lot, to be sure. Here is my list:|
|The cover has a volume of of 120
cm3 - 200 cm3 like a cube with a length of about 5 cm to
6 cm. Since the smith needs some more iron to hold the part, and some of the
iron is lost during forging, the smith needs to start with a lump of iron with
a volume equal to that of a cube with a side dimension of 7 cm to 8 cm. That
corresponds - once more I'm guessing a bit - to about a third of a typical
bi-pyramidal iron bar as
That is a substantial amount of the still precious stuff.
|More important: The smith needs a
piece of iron that does neither contain large slag inclusions like the (roughly
contemporary) Luristan sword shown
here), nor substantial
inhomogeneities with regard to carbon, i.e. spurious hypereutectoid areas.
Why is that? Because you just can't produce a sheet metal plate without parts looking ugly or contain holes, and you cannot emboss a fine pattern, if parts of your sheet is brittle.
|Typical bi-pyramidal iron bar as
found in Khorsabad are a 120 years or so younger then the quiver cover and
thus, presumably, of better or at least similar quality then the stuff our
smith used. The problem then is clear:
The quality of the starting material at the disposal of the smith did certainly not meet the demands made above.
|If follows that the smith must have
had a few tricks up his sleeve:
|On other words: The smith knew all the tricks discussed at some length in the context of the Luristan mask swords.|
Assyrian Type Swords Found in Hasanlu
|We know that the Assyrians had
iron around 700 BC and thus very likely plenty of iron swords. However, we
have no findings, only reliefs like the one right below, showing the
sword of Sargon II. More
pictures here. Note that it has a particular kind of
Well, in Hasanlu swords were found that come close:
|Interesting. But you must realize that Hsasanlu findings predate Sargon II (and all the other guys on the many reliefs) by around 100 years. So your guess about the significance of these swords is as good as mine. We still need to find some well-preserved Assyrian swords in order to assess the technology behind them.|
First Iron Swords - Places
First Iron Swords
First Iron Swords - Literature Digest
First Iron Swords - Reliefs / Sculptures with Swords and Daggers
© H. Föll (Iron, Steel and Swords script)