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Bronze

  • Ian Baker
Chapter

Abstract

Imagine that you are on a battlefield somewhere in the Middle East at the beginning of the Bronze Age. You advance with your copper sword and engage a foe armed with a bronze sword (a copper-tin alloy). He swings, you parry and your sword bends. Hopefully, you have time to retreat and bend your sword straight before you are slain. Whether such a scenario would have happened is debatable. The copper swords would have likely accidentally contained arsenic, which make them harder. Indubitably, bronze swords could keep a sharper edge. In fact, some swords made in China as early as the Warring States period (475–221 B.C.) were engineered to have a high tin content (17–21% tin) along the edge, which makes it harder and better at holding an edge but more brittle, while the center of the sword has a lower tin content (10%) and is softer but more ductile.

References

  1. 1.
    Oudbashi, O., & Davami, P. (2014). Metallography and microstructure interpretation of some archaeological tin bronze vessels from Iran. Materials Characterization, 97, 74–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Amato, I. (Ed.). (1998). Stuff: The materials the world is made of. New York: Avon Books, Inc.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Emsley, J. (2001). Nature’s building blocks: An A–Z guide to the elements. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 0-19-850340-7.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Baker
    • 1
  1. 1.Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA

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