Tempered steel and engraved stelae. Researchers find evidence of early metalworking in Europe

University of Freiburg archaeologist Dr. According to a study led by Ralph Arake González, our ancestors in Europe began using steel tools about 2,900 years ago.

Using geochemical analysis, scientists were able to find evidence that stone stelae on the Iberian Peninsula (dated to 1150-950 BC) were covered with intricate engravings. It could only be done with hardened steel tools. Phys.org writes about it.

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Scientists examined an iron chisel from the same period (around 900 BC) found in Portugal. The results of the study showed sufficient carbon content for the product to be hardened steel.

Until now, it was believed that ancient people in the early Iron Age or even the Late Bronze Age did not have the opportunity to produce steel of suitable quality. In addition, its widespread use is directly related to the Roman Empire.

But according to González, the chisel and its location prove that the ironwork was probably a local development of small communities in Iberia, not the result of the influence of later processes. This affects how archaeologists further evaluate the metallurgical processing of iron and quartzite products in other parts of the world.

In many parts of the Iberian Peninsula, little evidence remains of the Late Bronze Age (1300-800 BC) of Iberia. Rare settlement remains of nearly unexplored tombs can be found, adding to the remains of metalworking and mining activities.

For this reason, Iberian stelae depicting human figures, animals and some objects have a decisive importance for the study of this period.

González and his team studied the geological composition of the obelisks in detail. According to the results obtained, a significant part of them is not made of quartzite, as it is thought, but of quartz sandstone.

And this is a very hard breed that cannot be worked with bronze or even stone tools. Therefore, such a stele could only be carved with hardened steel tools.

The results of the analysis of the louse showed that it was inhomogeneous, but quite rich in carbon steel. To confirm the findings, the researchers turned to a professional blacksmith, mason, and bronze smelter. Each of them tried to work the sandstone that made up the stele with the help of suitable tools.

In the end, the mason was unable to do anything with neither stone nor bronze chisels, not even an iron chisel with an unhardened tip.

According to Gonzalen, the ancient inhabitants of Iberia were good at tempering steel. Otherwise, they could not process the steles.

Previously Focus He wrote that the first people in Europe hunted with bows and arrows 9 thousand years before it was thought. The earliest known examples of mechanical weapons in Europe (probably bows and arrows) were found in the south of France and are about 54 thousand years old.

In addition, researchers found traces of the first monumental structures in Europe. However, scientists disagree about whether such monumental structures arose independently in Europe or spread from the Middle East.

Source: Focus

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