Regional characteristics of iron manufacturing techniques and the related issue of the supply system on Han's southern Frontiers: A metallurgical study of iron implements from Chenzhou, Hunan

SSRN Electronic Journal(2024)

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Southern Hunan is known to be one of the few iron manufacturing regions in the Han period. The study of iron implements from this region should yield important evidence concerning the regional iron-making techniques used and the local iron industry. We provide a detailed account of the technological aspects of iron implements yielded from Chenzhou, a major node on the traffic routes entering the broader southern frontiers. Our analysis focuses on the metallographic features and chemical compositions of inclusions in the examined objects. The results reveal that cast iron and related annealing or decarburization techniques were commonly used. Most implements were made using solid-state decarburization of cast iron, along with malleable cast iron and fined iron. This technological profile is similar to other case studies in the literature, but also highlights regional characteristics such as the relatively sparse presence of fined iron. Based on this observation, we discuss various factors that could have contributed to this situation. In a broader context, the analysis of this collection can contribute to the further investigation of the regional characteristics of the Han period iron industry.
Cast iron industry,Fined iron,Han empire,Southern Hunan
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