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Archaeology Datasheet 301

Iron: bloomery smelting and associated processes

The manufacture iron from its ores can be carried out using a variety of smelting technologies. These can be broadly divided into the direct and indirect processes. The indirect process uses a blast furnace to create cast iron which is then refined into malleable iron. The direct or bloomery process produces malleable iron in a single furnace. The bloomery process took place below the melting point of the iron and bloomery iron had to be refined by forging before it could be used. All these processes generated slags and residues as by-products. The exact configuration of raw materials, furnace architecture, and other factors means that there are many variations within bloomery smelting and this may be reflected in the nature of the slags and residues.

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