Persian P?l?d Production: Ch?hak Tradition
Keywords:Crucible Steel, technical ceramics, carburization, Middle-Islamic Iran, Pulād, Chāhak
Crucible steel has fascinated scientists for over a century, but the study of its production is a fairly new field of research. Publications so far focus on archaeological sites from Central Asia (9th–12th centuries CE), India and Sri Lanka (mostly 17th century CE onwards). However, the development and spread of crucible steel-making is yet to be re-constructed to its full extent. It has been long suspected that the origins of this sophisticated technology potentially are to be found in Persia, modern day Iran, yet no archaeological evidence for this has been published so far. Several historical manuscripts provide some information on this technology and relate it to production centres in Persia. This article reports archaeological evidence for Persian crucible steel production, based on the medieval site of Ch?hak in Central Iran, in the context of selected historical documents. The Ch?hak crucible fragments have distinctive features that had not been seen elsewhere, while some similarities with Central Asian crucibles are evident. Microstructure and elemental composition of different crucible fragments and slags were determined with optical microscope and SEM-EDS, providing information on the fabric of the crucibles, the slag composition and the metal which was produced by this process. This project attempts to open a new chapter in the study of crucible steel production by introducing the Ch?hak tradition, comparing it to other Central Asian traditions of production. This may pave the way to track and study the origins of crucible steel production in the broader context of Central and Western Asia.
Abdurazakov, A. and M. Bezborodov.
Medieval Glasses from Central Asia. Tashkent.
Allan, J. W. and B. J. Gilmour.
Persian Steel: The Tanavoli Collection. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
“The manufacture of steel-making crucibles.” Masters Dissertation, Institute of Archaeology, University College London.
Alipour, R., M. Gleba and Th. Rehren.
“Textile templates for ceramic crucibles in early Islamic Akhsiket, Uzbekistan.” Archaeological Textile Newsletter 53: 15–27.
The Identification of Slags from Archaeological Sites. London: Institute of Archaeology.
Ṣadr al-Dīn Moḥammad Dashtakī Shirāzī: Life, Works and Philosophical Ideas. Maqalat va Barresiha 66: 139–160. http://www.noormags.com/view/fa/articlepage/82210
The Fārsnāma of Ibnu’l-Balkhi. Edited by G. Le Strange and R. A. Nicholson. London: Luzac.
Fārsnāma. Edited by G. Le Strange and R. A. Nicholson. Tehran: Asatir.
Religion and Government in Iran during Mongols. Vol.1. Tehran: Markaz-e Nashr-e Daneshgahi.
Bayley, J. and Th. Rehren.
“Towards a functional and typological classification of crucibles.” In Metals and Mines: Studies in Archaeometallurgy, edited by S. LaNiece, D. Hook and P. Craddock, 46–55. London Archetype.
Bearman P. J., Th. Bianquis, C. E. Bosworth, E. J. Donzel and W. van Heinrichs.
Encyclopædia of Islam. 2nd ed. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad
Al-Jamāhir fi-al-Marefat al-Jawāhīr. Translated by M.A. Najafi and M. Khalili. Madrese āli Kakhe Danesh, 3. Tehran: Economist.
Saydanah fī al-Ṭibb. Translated by M. Sutūdah and I. Afshār. Tehran: Ufsit.
“Un traité d’armurie compose pour Saladin.” Bulletin d’Etudes Orientales 12: 103–163.
Charlton, M. F., S. J. Shennan, Th. Rehren and P. Crew.
“Evolutionary analysis of iron making slag.” In The World of Iron, edited by J. Humphris and Th. Rehren, 288–295. Oxford: Archetype.
Dashtakī Shirāzī, Ṣadr al-Dīn.
C AD Jawāhir-Nāmah. Held in Tehran University Library, No. 3881, and No. 1285.
Eqbal Ashtiani, A.
A Complete History of Iran: From Mongol Domination to Mashroutiat Declaration. Vol. 1: from Chengiz invasion to Safavids. Tehran: Sepehr.
Feuerbach, A. M.
“Crucible steel in Central Asia: Production, Use, and Origins.” PhD dissertation, Institute of Archaeology, University College London.
Feuerbach, A. M., D. R. Griffiths and J. F. Merkel.
“An examination of crucible steel in the manufacture of Damascus steel, including evidence from Merv, Turkmenistan.” In Metallurgica Antiqua, edited by Th. Rehren, A. Hauptmann and J. Muhly, 37–44. Der Anschnitt Beiheft 8. Bochum: Deutsches Bergbau Museum.
Feuerbach, A. M., D. R. Griffiths and J. F. Merkel.
“Early Islamic crucible steel production at Merv, Turkmenistan.” In Mining and Metal Production through the Ages, edited by P. T. Craddock and J. Lang, 258–266. London: The British Museum Press.
Freestone, I. C. and M. S. Tite.
“Refractories in the ancient and preindustrial world.” In High-Technology Ceramics: Past, Present and Future, Ceramics and Civilisation, vol. III, edited by W. D. Kingery, 35–63. Westerville: The American Ceramic Society.
Iran: A Short History. Translated by S. Rendall. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers.
Hassan, A. Y.
“Iron and steel technology in Medieval Arabic sources.” Journal for the History of Arabic Science 2: 31–52.
Hoyland, R. G. and B. Gilmour.
Medieval Islamic Swords and Swordmaking: Kindi’s treatise “On swords and their kinds.” Exeter: Short Run Press.
“Iron and steel technology in Hispano-Arabic and early Castilian written sources.” Gladius 20: 239–250. http://dx.doi.org/10.3989/gladius.2000.72
Khayyām Nishābūrī, Omar.
Nowrūz nāmah, edited with preface, notes and a glossary by Mojtaba Minovi. Tehran: Kaveh bookshop.
Nowrūz nāmah, edited by Ali Hosouri. Tehran: Cheshmeh.
“Social constructionist approaches to the study of technology.” World Archaeology 36: 571–578. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0043824042000303746
Martinón-Torres, M. and Th. Rehren.
“Technical ceramics.” In Archaeometallurgy in Global Perspective: Methods and Syntheses, edited by B. W. Roberts and C. P. Thornton, 107–131. New York: Springer. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-9017-3_6
Merkel, J., A. Feuerbach and D. Griffith.
“Analytical investigation of crucible steel production at Merv.” IAMS: The Journal of the Institute for Archaeo-Metallurgical Studies 19: 12–13.
Morris Jr., J. W.
“Stronger, tougher steels.” Science, New Series 320(5879): 1022–1023.
“Gedichte und Schwerter: Waffenklassifizierung und Tiegelstahlrezept des Omar Khayyam Neishaburi.” Hephaistos 11/12: 26–27.
Mustawfī Qazvīnī, Ḥamd Allāh.
The Geographical Part of the Nuzhat-al-Qulub, edited and translated by G. Le Strange. London: Luzac.
Nuzhat-al-Qulub: Al-Maqalat al-thalithah, edited by G. Le Strange. Tehran: Asatir.
Navasaitis, J., A. Selskiene and G. Žaldarys.
“The study of trace elements in bloomery iron.” Materials Science 16: 113–118.
“Black metallurgy of Northern Ferghana on materials of archaeological investigation at the fort of Akhsiket of the IX to early XIII centuries.” Abstracts of the Candidate of History Dissertation, Moscow.
Pigoulevskaya, N. V., A. You. Yakoubovsky, I. P. Petrouchevski, L. V. Stroeva and A. U. Belenitsky.
The History of Iran: From Ancient Period to the End of the Eighteenth Century. 2 vols. Translated from Russian into Persian by K. Keshavarz. Tehran: Entesharat-e Moasese Motaleat va Tahqiqat-e Ejtemaie.
Raghib, Y. and Ph. Fluzin.
“La fabrication des lames damassées en Orient.” Journal for the Economic and Social History of the Orient 40(1): 30–71. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1568520972600883
“Weights and measures in Islam” In Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in non-Western culture, edited by Helaine Selin, 2255–2267. 2nd ed. Berlin: Springer. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_8934
“Crucibles as reaction vessels in ancient metallurgy.” In Mining and Metal Production Through The Ages, edited by P. Craddock and J. Lang, 207–215. London: The British Museum Press.
Rehren, Th. and O. Papachristou.
“Cutting edge technology: The Ferghana Process of medieval crucible steel smelting.” Metalla 7(2): 55–69.
“Similar like white and black: A comparison of steel-making crucibles from Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.” In Man and Mining: Mensch und Bergbau: Studies in Honour of Gerd Weisgerber on Occasion of his 65th Birthday, edited by Th. Stöllner, 393–404. Bochum: Deutsches Bergbau-Museum.
Political and Social History of Iran. Tehran: Maharat.
Shamlouie, H. A.
History of Iran: From Medes to Pahlavids. Tehran: Bongah-e Matbu’ati-e Safialishah.
Sillar, B. and M. S. Tite.
“The challenge of technological choices for materials science approaches in archaeology.” Archaeometry 42: 2–20. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4754.2000.tb00863.x
Simpson, St. J.
“The Early Islamic crucible steel industry at Merv.” IAMS: The Journal of the Institute for Archaeo-Metallurgical Studies 21: 14–15.
“An archaeological tour in the Ancient Persis.” Iraq 3(2): 111–225. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/4241592
Sykes, P. M.
A History of Persia. Vol. 2. London: Routledge and Kegnan Paul.
Ṭūsī, Naṣīr al-Dīn.
Tansukh-Nāmah. Based on a copy held in Tehran University Library, No. 2457/7.
Tansukh-Nāmah. Edited by M. Razavi. Tehran: Etela’at. http://www.noorlib.ir/View/fa/Book/BookView/Image/15568
Zaki, A. R.
a “Centers of Islamic sword making in the Middle Ages.” Bulletin de l’Institut d’Egypte 36: 285–295.
b “Islamic swords in Middle Ages.” Bulletin de l’Institut d’Egypte 36: 365–394.
How to Cite
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.