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Wootz Damascus steel of ancient Orient

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Abstract

The legendary Damascus blades of ancient Orient are forged from high carbon (ca. 1.5% C) crucible steel, i.e., wootz. The famous damascene surface pattern is formed from carbide particles arranged into parallel layers. The cutting quality and impact toughness of these blades were respectively studied with leather knives and Charpy specimens made from reproduced steel. The advantageous effect of carbides on edge-holding quality may be less than is often believed. It was difficult or even impossible to detect when leather was cut. The steel with a uniform distribution of carbides was somewhat tougher than the steel with carbide-rich layers. Oriental ore often contained a high amount of phosphorus, which presumably made the majority of the blades somewhat brittle, but in the cases when carbon and phosphorus contents are not excessive, wootz Damascus steel can be ductile.

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Anyone who follows the ancient and glorious history of arms, whether as a collector or as a student, has surely in his reading often run across the term damascened steel or Damascus steel, or simply damascus , applied (not always in correct or pertinent fashion) to the constituent materials of edged weapons or of the barrels of firearms. No disponible
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The best Damascus blades were forged in Persia from Indian wootz steel having a carbon content of about 1.5%. They became famous for their high quality and distinct surface patterns which resulted from small cementite particles arranged in parallel layers. The last highest-quality blades were made perhaps in the 18th century, after which the art was temporarily lost. Recently, it has been rediscovered. In this paper, it is shown that this ancient steel material can be reproduced by a modern foundry. The addition of about 0.5% Cr is essential. The interdendritic segregation of Cr and thermal cycling lead to the formation of the characteristic layered microstructure in forged specimens. Cr also prevents graphitization.
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