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Title: Novel Micro-Scale Steel-Making from Molten Cast Iron Practised in Medieval Nomadic Communities of East Mongolia: Steel-making from molten cast iron in medieval eastern Mongolia
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83 to 98
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National Science Foundation
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  1. ABSTRACT Cast iron objects recovered primarily in eastern Mongolia, spanning the Xiongnu through the Early Historic periods (ca. 3rd BC–AD 17th century), were examined for their radiocarbon ( 14 C) concentration and microstructure. Most of the samples examined were found to have originated from charcoal-based smelting with a few exceptions that were made using a mineral coal-based technique. A comparison of 14 C dates with dates derived from artifact typology allowed the charcoal-smelted objects to be classified into two groups, based on whether the radiometric and typological periodization are in agreement or not. In addition, those with differing 14 C and typological dates can be divided into two subgroups with and without evidence for a melt treatment applied after original casting. These conflicting dating results are confusing and would seem to provoke skepticism about the use of 14 C measurements for dating iron artifacts. We demonstrate however that 14 C analysis, when combined with metallographic examination and other lines of chronological evidence, can clarify the history of a given iron object and its multiple users, often separated in time by more than a millennium.
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