||Found: Ool (Maas), Netherlands
Age: 1000-800 B.C.
For the 4th metal workers weekend in Archeon, I took the challenge to attempt to cast bronze swords using only bronze age technology. The purpose wasn't to get complete swords yet, but to pass as many steps into that direction as possible. This went so well, that I even managed to cast two full swords!
As example I took a so called carp's tongue type sword, which can be seen on the photo. The original can be seen in the Limburg Museum in Venlo.
||The model is the only thing where I cheated, as I used modern tools to make it. The model is made from lime wood.|
||For the metal workers weekend I had prepared 6 moulds. These were made by first applying a mix of clay and sand to one side of the model. The edges were given a separating layer of sand, and then the other side was covered. One of the halves was carefully removed, so that the model could be taken out. The removed half was placed back, and the mould allowed to dry to leather hard for one or two days. The inside was then touched up. The mould was then wrapped in a mixture of clay, sand and horsedung. This is a very robust mixture, which easily fires without cracking or breaking, which is particularly critical with such large moulds. After drying, the moulds were fired for a day in a loam oven, with wood and charcoal up and between the moulds.|
||The first four castings were not complete, as they missed the hilt. But the cast parts were very promising. At the fift attempt, I set the mould at an angle, instead of vertical, and this gave success! I repeated this at the sixth attempt and again success. So not only did I manage to cast a sword, I actually cast two of them! The swords aren't perfect yet, but that can be improved on easily in future attempts. The most major problem was bits of mould coming loose, and giving dents in the bronze. This could be solved by firing the moulds at a higher temperature.|
The finished blade
|Here you can see the completed blade. The surface is quite irregular due to the inclusions from the mould, which resulted in deep pits. The cutting edges have been hardened, and I hammered in the decorative lines. This didn't quite go to plan, partially due to my tools not being suitable and due to the surface irregularity.|
The completed sword
|The hilt is made from ash, and treated with lineseed oil. The hilt plates are rived to the hilt using bronze rivets, and the pommel is attached using hideglue.|
|The scabbard exists of two core halves from hazel wood. These are wrapped with leather, which is glued on with hide glue. After the leather was dried, it's been treated with sheep fat to make it waterproof.|