Metallurgy in Antiquity by Robert James Forbes

By Robert James Forbes

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Not all minerals are ores, though all ores are minerals. For an ore is a mineral (or a mineral aggregate) containing precious or useful metals or metalloids (such as antimony, sulphur) and which occurs in such quantity, grade, and chemical combination as to make extraction commercially profitable. Seeing that profitable extraction is the main poin't in the definition of an ore, it will be clear that it depends on the refining technique of a certain period whether some mineral will be considered to be an ore or not.

Accompanied by the rise of the prices of corn and general articles. Gradually, however, the prices fall back as the cheaper and better iron implements are used more generally. Iron ores are widely distributed and as soon as they could be smelted and the Iron produced showed properties at least equal to those of bronze, everybody could afford and would buy iron tools. Economically speaking ironsmelting first made metal tools soo cheap that they could be universally used for clearing forests and draining ptarshes and other heavy work.

Of hard steel and to give it some of the toughness required for its work. The regulation and the interplay of the three techniques determined the succes of the ancient smith and devoid as he was of modem apparatus and above all of modern temperature control, we need not wonder that he often failed. It is, however, clear that iron-working embraced three groups of technical niceties, which demanded a new set of experiments before they were sufficiently appreciated and a different skill and experience than that which the ancient copper smiths had accumulated in the course of age.

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