9th Experimental Archaeology Conference poster – Hošek et al

Steel carburising in a small shaft furnace: The so-called “Aristotle process”; its possibilities and limitations

Jiří Hošek, Ryszard Kaźmierczak, Paweł Kucypera, Maciej Tomaszczyk

Nicolaus Copernicus University

The so-called “Aristotle furnace” was modernly introduced by L. Sauder and S. Williams(2010), but it had already been described and successfully operated by O. Evenstad (1790) in the 18th century. It is a slick design that allows an indirect production of small quantities of a relatively homogeneous steel of varied carbon content from scrap bloom iron. The process itself is characterized by low material, fuel and time consumption, it is rather easily controlled,
and gives very good results in terms of the attainment of the desired degree of carburisation, structural homogeneity and minimization of the presence of impurities in the material. It is highly probable that the description given by Aristotle in his Meteorologica, dealing with repeated melting and solidification of wrought iron, accompanied by slag removal, deals with this very process. Hence the terms “Aristotle furnace,” “Aristotle steel,” “Aristotle process,” or
“Aristotle method”. During the course of our studies, a series of experiments with varying parameters were carried out to evaluate the effects, variables, and limitations of this method. Acquired samples were analyzed metallographically and compared with other available archaeometallurgical and experimental data. Drawn conclusions will be presented and discussed.

Sauder L. 2010, Making Steel in the “Aristotle Furnace”, HMS 2010 Conference proceedings, downloaded 2014-10-14.


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