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Weapons made of Lower Silesia iron could scare the Romans

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Conquest of Rome by the Vandals in 455 CE
Conquest of Rome by the Vandals in 455 CE

In the Roman period, Lower Silesia was one of the most dynamically operating metallurgical centres in the Barbaricum. One of the largest metallurgical settlements from this period was discovered in Tarchalice (administrative district of Wołów).

The iron was smelted in disposable bloomeries, consisting of a pit and a clay shaft. The material from which iron was obtained was morass ore (almost non-existent in this region today), and charcoal as a fuel. The temperature reached in the bloomery was 1250° C. After many hours of operation of the furnace, iron and slag (production waste) appeared in the pit. In order to extract the iron and forge it, the furnace had to be demolished. To smelt another portion of iron, smelters had to build another one. Something that distinguished the smelting industry in Lower Silesia was the use of very large bloomeries with exceptional efficiency.

At that time, the area of Lower Silesia was inhabited by the people of the Przeworsk Culture, identified by scientists as the Vandals. Since the ability to smelt iron and the production of iron weapons conditioned military strength, the Vandals had in their hands (literally and figuratively) the perfect tool for expansion. During the Great Migration of Peoples Period, in 406 CE, they crossed the borders of the Roman Empire, and a few years later they reached the Iberian Peninsula, which for many years resulted in settling in North Africa and, consequently, sacking Rome in 455 CE.

Author: Katarzyna Mikosz
  • Śląsk starożytny i średniowieczny. Przewodnik po wystawie stałej Muzeum Archeologicznego we Wrocławiu, Wrocław, 2016

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