|sword made of Wootz steel, madee in India. Tumblr|
What is so special about this ancient metal alloy and its popularity? It is a super-high carbon steel exhibiting advanced process known for such quality as high impact hardness and super plasticity, besides light-weight. The current steel is no match for this ancient steel made in south India. Wootz steel invited the attention of no less person than Michael Faraday, an inventor of electricity and expert in magnetism who visited India and studied it for some years (1818-22). He was quite impressed about the high quality of steel made with considerable ease in South India. However, his experiments with various alloys did not give him the desired quality comparable to that of Wootz.
Several European travelers such as Francis Buchanan (1807), Benjamin Heyne (1818) and H.W Voysey (1832) in the 19th century visited many places in south India and got the first hand information on the crucible process of steel. In 1912 Robert Hadfield based on his study of crucible steel from Sri Lanka observed that Indian wootz steel is far superior to that of the European steel produced then.
|stainless steel tube mills-gdseko.com|
|Damascus steel. en.wikipedia.org|
the Damascus blades with a watered steel pattern and was widely traded over ancient Europe, China, the Arab countries and the Middle East, cutting across many religions, cultures and landscapes. Until 1821, a genuine Damascus sword made of wootz steel was not replicated the one with high carbon steel originating from etched crystalline texture. However, the other type the welded one with iron and steel alloy was widely used by Vikings and Samurai. Studies on wootz indicate the special process that retains the 1-2% carbon enhances its usefulness, cutting power and high impact hardness. Some of these rare special qualities put Wootz steel, an eastern Technical product of ancient India, under a special category and gave an impetus to the development of modern metallographic studies.
|Wootz steel of India. SlidePlayer|
|Tipu Sultan of Mysore, Karnataka. en.wikipedia.org|
India's history of steel making goes way back to several centuries. Cyril Stanley Smith was instrumental in getting world attention about the high quality ancient steel by this writings. The new field of modern metallurgical and material sciences relied heavily on the study of steel in the past few centuries. The Eastern technological product, using the crucible process, gave inspiration to the Scientists in the West to go deep into the material sciences. In the wake of their reporting of crucible steel making in south India, many European metal experts took keen interest to study it in depth. There are many literary references about the high quality iron and steel from India. Mention may be made of sources from the Mediterranean region, Rome and Greek, etc. ASI finding from Tamil Nadu already found out the existence of crucible steel process long before the Christian Era.This particular type of steel was so popular among the Arabs in those days in the 12th century . The Arab Edrisi mentioned that the Hindus mastered the art of iron and steel manufacturing and that it was impossible to find anything alternative to Indian steel (Hinduwani). It was in the Indian workshops, it is reported, where the most famous Sabers in the world were forged. As mentioned above, many European travelers and experts visited the workshops in Mysore, Malabar, Telangana, etc to get to know the steel process. That in the late 1600s, steel export was a major foreign exchange earner and Wootz ingots in several thousands were shipped from the Coromandel Coast of India to Persia points out an important fact that its production was on a huge scale for before the Industrial revolution in Europe. In the 19th century Lahore (Pakistan), Amritsar, Agra, Jaipur, Gwalior, Tanjore, Mysore, Golconda etc., were the known centers where daggers and swords were made of wootz steel. Unfortunately, none of them have the traces of old foundries today. Several studies, including the one undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India conclude that crucible steel process has an ancient history in the Indian subcontinent and the scientific studies also confirm the use of crucible process in ancient Tamil Nadu as
|3rd 4th century BC. Delhi Iron pillar. en.wikipedia.org|
revealed by it high carbon content. The famous Iron pillar dating back to third or fourth century BC is an excellent example. Despite the time factor, one can not find any traces of rust on the Iron pillar.