Iron and Steel Heritage of Mankind

Venkataraman, N (1997) Iron and Steel Heritage of Mankind. In: Iron and Steel Heritage of India, November 1997, IIM & Tata Steel, Jamshedpur.



Early iron encountered by man was meteoritic iron. Some sort of rude man-made iron started appearing around 2000 BC in .many parts of the then known world. Rapid devel-opments in the manufacture and use of iron making took place around 1400 BC in the Hittite federation in modern day Turkey. Socio-political conditions were probably responsible for this. By 1200 BC, knowledge of iron making spread in the east to Assyria and Babylon and in the south to Palestine and Egypt. Towards the west the spread was slower and the Celtic people made an important contribution towards spread of metalworking in Europe including iron-making. In India and China ironmaking probably developed separately and by 600 BC excellent steel was being made in India. This was highly sought after by the Persians, the Romans and others. In China, bronze working developed to very high levels but iron making developed to a lesser extent. However, controlled liquid pig iron production developed in 'China by 200 AD, at least 1200 years before it developed in Europe. Historical developments of modern iron and steel making, seen from the European scenario, starts with early Roman ironworking, development of the Catalan forge, Stuckofen in Germany and the production of liquid pig iron from shaft furnaces by 1400 AD. The next major development was the use of reverberatory furnaces in early 17th century and the use of coke in blast furnaces in the early 18th Century. The period 1700 AD to 1850 AD was a very impo-rtant period in the development of iron making, wrought iron making and steel making. The period saw large scale cast iron production in blast furnaces, refining of the cast iron in refinery furnaces to get improved cast iron and refining in reverberatory furnaces to get some form of wrought iron. Cementation processes and crucible processes for steelmaking developed during this time. A number of such processes were in use in the British Isles during this time. In India also, during this period a number of ironmaking sites were there, each unique in its own way. Bessemer steelmaking was the start of modern steelmaking technology. The development of Bessemer steel making was quickly followed by open hearth steelmaking, basic Bessemer steelmaking and then in 1900 by electric steel-making. After 1950, oxygen steelmaking developed exten-sively. Also, after 1970 direct reduction processes for ironmaking have found their own important place in the scheme of things.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
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Uncontrolled Keywords:Iron and steel heritage, Iron making in Europe, Manmade iron, Iron in ancient times.
Divisions:Metal Extraction and Forming
ID Code:5798
Deposited By:Sahu A K
Deposited On:13 Jul 2012 10:24
Last Modified:13 Jul 2012 10:24
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