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20 May 2005
Oldest 'steel' unearthed in Turkey

Two pieces of metal unearthed at colonial ruins in Turkey have been deemed the world's oldest examples of a crude type of steel, dating back to 1800 BCE. The discovery has been credited to Hideo Akanuma, senior curator at Iwate Prefectural Museum, who tested the pieces, which were excavated in 1994 at the Kaman-Kalehoyuk ruins, 100 kilometers southeast of Ankara. Both pieces measure between one and two centimeters long and about one centimeter wide and were excavated by archaeologists of the Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan, who started digging at the ruins in 1986.
     In his research, Akanuma magnified the metal pieces 1,000 times and found that their texture was similar to steel. Also, he found through fluoroscopic analysis that carbon accounted for 0.1 to 0.3 percent of the objects, which is a defining feature of steel.
     Until now, crude steel fragments found in the same area dated between the 14th and 12th centuries BCE and were believed to be the oldest steel in the world. A clay tablet found in Bogaz Koy, the capital of Hittite Empire in the same period, had an inscription that read, "High-quality iron," which is believed to refer to steel.

Source: Daily Yomiuri Online (14 May 2005)

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