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Images about the Early and Middle Bronze Age on the next site
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Index Dutch Bronze Age
Index first farmers in the Netherlands

Images about bronze melting

How to make a mould to cast bronze in, partly made from casting sand.

  1. Saw a new piece of oak-wood through at 1/3rd of the edge as shown
  2. Shape it with chisels
  3. Mix grinded baked pottery shells with a little oil or loam to make casting sand, press the object (here: bronze axe) firmly in the sand
  4. Clench the 2 other pieces of the mould on the first piece and fill it up with the sand. Make a casting funnel on one side
  5. Open the mould carefully to remove the object, put a stick in it for the opening of the handle and cast the bronze.

Reconstructed Bronze and Early Iron Age bronze casting furnace. Heidenschanze, Dresden-Coschtz, D.
The slope provided a strong air-draft into the furnace, even when there's no wind.
There were many big "industrial furnaces" like this one throughout Europe, and they could quickly provide many bronze weapons for small armies.

Making moulds with the "lost-wax" (cire-perdue) method.

  1. Make a model of a bracelet in wax (a)
  2. Put thin layers of wet loam around the wax (air holes!), melt the wax (50), but burn the mould, too!
  3. Cast the bronze (b) in the mould
  4. Break the mould
  5. Use iron or bronze chisels to finish the object.

Burning the wax out of loam moulds; the opening must lie towards the fire.

The development of the furnace, towards melting the metals.

  1. The earliest furnaces were mere camp fires: circles of stones which limited the fire place.
    Thus one could bake meat on the hot stones.
    And the preheated stones could also bring cold water to its boiling point.

  2. When people discovered the benefits of copper and later bronze, attempts were made to smelt these metals. Here a crucible contains the metal (a) and is surrounded by charcoal (b).

  3. One step further, attempts were made to reach higher temperatures. Lining the furnace with stones (a) could then better maintain the heat.

  4. A higher edge could also help in reaching a higher temperature.

  5. This is a possible situation in which one could smelt the copper ores to win the copper.
a. Bellows
b. Bellows-pipe (clay)
c. Ideal place for the ore or a crucible with copper or bronze
d. Charcoal, possibly mixed with copper ores
e. Loam lining
f.  Sand / loam mixture
g. Stones

The bronze casting site in the (Pre-) Historic Open Air Museum, Eindhoven, NL.

Working with the bellows.

Loam moulds and bronze castings.

Below right: bronze casting furnace with pre-heating level. Below: loam mould for a bracelet, center: iron tongs. Top right: bellows with a clay pipe

Loam furnace. The ruler measures 20 cm.

Loam mould, formed around a paraffin model of a spearhead.

Bronze casting in Late Iron Age oppidum Bibracte, France

Information about the writer / editor

November, 5th 1999