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Frag Out! Magazine #33

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Page 177 of 185

Definition "Damascus steel" was a name used casually. The definition of "Damascus steel" was published in 1827 by German metallurgist C. J. B. Karsten in textbook " Handbuch der Eisenhuttenkunde" and it is: every steel, with previously polished surfaced that was etched with diluted acids iron vitriol or alum that shows segregation of lighter and darker layers, is call Damascus steel. Such definition was accepted by generally every specialist and researcher of Damascus steel as well as author of metallurgist textbooks published later. That definition still exists as the most valid one but is is a source of debate of what is and what isn't a real Damascus steel. Before I explain this part, let me start with its miraculous properties and a secret of its production. A secret that doesn't exist In many contemporary articles I read about some romantic stories about old masters producing this steel were keeping the whole process as a secret so far that they took it with them to graves so it vanished around the 16th-18th century. Frankly, the history is simpler, lies a lot. There was no secret, it wasn't taken with them to grave but the ore used for forging got depleted. Remember, it was the 16th century. People didn't know the chemical elements and their percentage in the ore and couldn't modify the smelting process by using an ore from a different source with different chemical composition. Of course there were different techniques of enriching steel's properties, removing impurities by keeping it liquid for prolonged periods, repetitive forging etc. but "l o s i n g" a Damascus steel is quite banal. Ore used for smelting got depleted (most likely from region near Hyderabad) and that ore had proper properties, without specific additives. Blacksmiths couldn't recreate steel with such properties then as they didn't have sufficient technology. As we explained the secret of missing Damascus steel let's proceed to superior qualities of weaponry made of it. Legendary Damascus steel Legends brought from crusades said that Muslims were using Damascus steel sabers that could cut candles in half without dropping the top part off. They could damage European swords and even stones without being chipped. They were many more

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