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What did Bronze Age weapons look like , and how were they made

Von: kangarooistan (kangarooistan9@gmail.com) [Profil]
Datum: 05.06.2010 13:00
Message-ID: <b00af47b-f66c-48f3-b206-16d44fbf978e@a2g2000prd.googlegroups.com>
Newsgroup: alt.archaeology alt.historysoc.culture.egyptian sci.archaeology
Bronze Age Mine Research South Australia
The swords from the Bronze Age represent some of the finest work of
the bronze smiths 3000 years ago, and in books, archaeologists
encompass it with a few simple words ‘they made moulds of clay and
cast swords’.
One half of a bronze mould for casting a spear head, found at East
Pennard, England.

Dated to the period 1400-1000 BC, it is without parallels.

Photographed in the Somerset County Museum, Taunton, on 29-Oct-05.

An alloy of copper and tin first near  the end of the 3rd millennium
BC for tools, decoration, axes, daggers, swords and pins and giving
its name to the period we now know as the Bronze Age. The two material
were mixed in the quantities of 88% copper 12% tin and heated to
around 1200 degrees centigrade before the molten metal was poured into
clay or stone moulds. These were then broken open and the item
polished, ground or sharpened to make the finished article.

Today the casting of a sword has become a bit of a holy grail, by
many  even though some of the results are quite good, they always fall
far short of the quality and elegance of those of the Bronze Age metal

Why could it be the bronze smiths who cast the swords 3000 years ago
were absolute masters; with a lifetime’s accumulation of experience
and skill, some of it passed down over the years, possibly from father
to son or an apprenticeship.

One of the first things you notice if you look at Bronze Age metal
work, is that blade length was always at the edge of casting
technology, and even from the early Bronze Age, bronze daggers had
their handles riveted on, so all the casting length was in the blade.

As the early Bronze Age metal worker developed his skill in casting
daggers using both clay and stone moulds, They managed to push the
blades longer.

From the middle Bronze Age these blades, some of them over 24 inches
in length, are known as rapiers:

the blades tend to be very narrow and the handles are still riveted
on. in the past it was assumed these long narrow stabbing blades were
not very successful in battle, and were more likely worn as symbols of

However more recent work has shown these were very efficient weapons.

Figsbury Ring Sword
The Figsbury Ring sword (above) and a similar reproduction (below).

Recently research on blade damage has pointed to some of the damage
being deliberately inflicted by other blades, possibly from battle,
but it’s also possible that swords were ritually broken or “killed” o
the death of their owner.

One other major step in technology, which is often overlooked, is the
forging of blade edges.

This starts with the early Bronze Age with the arrival of beaker
copper blades, probably done with hand held stone tools.

But the work on later bronze daggers 2000BC is so incredibly neat
that they must have been done with bronze anvils set in guides with
the blades being drawn between them whilst being hammered.
This style of Recasso edging continues in nearly all bronze edged
weapons throughout the Bronze Age including spears.
Blade edge detail , Experiments in edge forging

The copper alloy used in later swords seems to rotate around 8-9% tin
and 1-3% lead; it’s generally assumed the lead was added to improve
the flow of the bronze for difficult castings.

Indeed some of the Wilburton swords have very narrow section handles,
which would make it difficult to get bronze though to fill the mould.
The later Ewart Park swords have slightly thicker section in the
handle, which must have improved things. All swords were cast through
the handle, whereas rapiers could be cast from either end when cast in
stone moulds.
The RACE is on to locate the "big prizes" in south Australian Ancient
Mining District
Its now only a matter of time until some clever Archaeologists join
the dots

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Published on 6/5/10 7:30 PM

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