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I Forge Iron

Anyone used a pit or bowl furnace to smelt?

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So, there was a wonderful link in a forum  that Gergely posted on here recently to the American Natural History museum's african collection of ethnography. Well worth a look if you haven't already.


But while I was looking around other parts of their site, I ran into pictures of something that was a little different from some of the smelting that I'd seen while looking around the web. It's called a pit or bowl furnace, from what I can find was apparantly used to make blooms prior to beehive furnaces or furnaces with a shaft. I've seen similar ones for smelting copper, but not iron.


Apparantly you dig a shallow pit, about a foot and a half across and same depth, build your fire, then charge alternating roasted and crushed ore with charcoal as normal. Next apply bellows through clay tuyeres and go to town.


This site said they made a bloom in about an hour, which I'm not sure I believe, and I found other accounts that said around ten hours, which sounds more like. I'm also not sure how this particular tribe arranged to tap slag, although I've found other ones that used pits, channels etc.

If anyone has any more info or sources on this kind of bloom furnace, I'd love to hear it. Below are some of the pics. I have not included direct links to the pictures because there is partial nudity on some of them in the site post-36845-0-98149800-1389212751_thumb.jpost-36845-0-32196400-1389212762_thumb.jpost-36845-0-50188700-1389212850_thumb.jpost-36845-0-38974500-1389212864_thumb.jin a National Geographic sort of way.



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We tried a pit bloomery before without much luck; perhaps we lacked the manpower for the air supply for the length of time needed.


Have you researched the catalan forge yet?  They tried one at Williamsburg and wrote it up in one of their publications---unfortunately at home in my library...I'm due for a trip back in 2 weeks...

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I wish the pictures were better. I wonder if it is truly a smelting operation happening or if the workers are re melting bloom iron to form steel.
It certainly appears to be possible that it is a hearth steel furnace.

Some times these sites are mis understood by archeologist and labeled wrong.

I can't see any reason it also would not work for a bloomery. But it would be very ineffective compared to a Stack furnace of some type.

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Wouldn't it be too short for the ore to pass through a sizeable reduction zone?

I am still learning a lot about smelting, but the Evenstad hearth came to mind when I saw it.

Heh is this where the convo ends?

This was posted the other day in one of my smelting circles (Its in Italian. Use google translate):


Looks very similar!

This was posted as well, looking for complete photos. Looks strikingly familiar!


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