Early iron in China, Korea, and Japan

Points for discussion at the Roundtable, "Korean excavations of iron armour: Political and technological implications for protohistoric East Asia", organised by Dr. Gina Barnes at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Los Angeles, 25-28 March 1993.

This Web version includes only the most important of the Chinese characters.

Note that some of the statements made here have been superseded by later research. See my article, "The earliest use of iron in China", soon to be published.

Donald B. Wagner

I was originally invited here as discussant for Dr. Dong-Suk Yoon's presentation of technical metallurgical matters. Since he is unable to attend, I shall have to base this discussion on published papers by him and others.

Early iron in China

Meteoritic iron was used in China as far back as the Shang period, and has also been used sporadically in much later times (Gettens et al. 1971; Li Zhong 1976b; Yuan Jinjing & Zhang Xiande 1977: 4-5; Hua Jueming 1982b); in the following I shall be concerned only with iron which is smelted from ore.

Huang Zhanyue (1976) has shown very convincingly that the smelting of iron in China began in the south. In my forthcoming book (Wagner 1993, chapters 2-3; see also 1987a) I have reviewed Huang Zhanyue's evidence, together with other evidence which has come to light later, and suggested that the first use of iron in China was in the southern "barbarian" state of Wu  in southern Jiangsu and parts of adjacent provinces. The earliest iron artefacts are from the early fifth century B.C., and artefacts which have not yet been properly published may take the use of iron in Wu back some centuries further (e.g. Zou Houben 1984).

I have further proposed that this technology spread from Wu to the "semi-barbarian" state of Chu  , centred in Hubei, where the earliest reliably dated iron artefacts seem to be from the early fourth century B.C. (Jiangling 1984; Wagner 1987a).

In north China the earliest iron artefacts appear to be from the late fourth century B.C., but by this time the spread is quite rapid, and by the early third century B.C. iron has become the metal of choice for all implements and edged weapons. An important piece of evidence here is a mass grave of fallen soldiers of the state of Yan  in Yixian  County, Hebei (Liu Shishu 1975; KG 1975.4: 241-243). The date given by its excavators, the early third century B.C., appears to be very reliable. The soldiers were buried with their weapons, and we thus have a less biased sample of weapons of the time than graves normally give us (cf. Trousdale 1977). Very nearly all of the weapons are of wrought iron or steel; a few implements were also found in the grave, and these were of cast iron. A crossbow-lock is of bronze; the superior casting properties of bronze make it a better material than iron for this type of artefact. Nineteen crossbow-bolts have iron shafts and bronze tips, again presumably because of the better casting properties of bronze. There are only three edged weapons of bronze (compared with 51 of iron), and these can be explained as symbolic objects, perhaps symbols of rank, not intended for use in serious fighting.

In our present context it is fortunate that this grave, which provides our best evidence concerning the production and use of iron anywhere in north China, should be in the state of Yan, Korea's closest contact among the early Chinese states. We find here, in the early third century B.C., all of the important techniques of iron production which we know of from elsewhere in China at this time:

These facts are known because Chinese metallurgists have subjected artefacts from the grave to the same sort of metallographic examination which Dr. Yoon has applied to early Korean artefacts (KG 1975.4: 241ff). Quite a lot of this type of research has been done in China; it is reviewed in my forthcoming book (Wagner 1993, chapters 6-7).

I have found it necessary to question one important conclusion of the Chinese metallurgists: this concerns the process by which iron was smelted from ore in early China. A group of Chinese metallurgists, writing under the pseudonym Li Zhong (1975), have proposed a method for distinguishing artefacts made from bloomery iron from those made from fined iron. The bloomery process, which produces wrought iron directly from ore, was the only process used in the ancient West for the smelting of iron. In late Medieval times the process of producing cast iron in a blast furnace and fining this to produce wrought iron was introduced and in time replaced the bloomery process. In China actual blast furnaces and fineries have been excavated from as early as the first century B.C. (e.g. Gongxian 1962; Zhao Qingyun et al. 1985; WW 1978.2: 28ff), but these are the earliest iron-production furnaces so far known in China, and we have no direct evidence concerning what processes may have been used for iron production in China before this time.

In the fining process cast iron is heated to a pasty state (a temperature well over 1000deg.C) and stirred about with an iron rod under an oxidizing blast of air. This removes most or all of the carbon from the iron, so that the result is steel or wrought iron. The process has been used in China almost up to the present; see the descriptions of the traditional process translated in Wagner 1985: 22-25, 60-69, esp. 66. A useful textbook on most aspects of pre-industrial iron-production technology is Rostoker & Bronson 1990.

The Li Zhong group propose that microscopic examination of slag inclusions in wrought iron artefacts can be used to determine whether the raw material used by the smith in making the artefacts was bloomery iron or fined iron. Using this method they find that the wrought iron and steel artefacts from the Yan grave described above were all made from bloomery iron. I have argued in my forthcoming book (Wagner 1993, chapter 6, section 6.4) that the proposed method is inadequate, and that the question of whether the bloomery was ever used in ancient China remains unanswered. In renewed study of the question it will be important to consider Jerzy Piaskowski's very recent proposal (1992) of a method along similar lines.

In my own discussion of the question of bloomeries in ancient China I emphasize the great sophistication of early Chinese copper-smelting and bronze-casting techniques. Careful and highly technical consideration of these suggests that an iron technology which grew out of this bronze technology would most probably be one based on the production of cast iron in blast furnaces rather than the production of wrought iron in bloomery furnaces. Thus it is quite possible, as Joseph Needham suggested long ago (1958: 15; 1980: 520), that the bloomery was never known in China.

A question of terminology must be mentioned briefly here. The traditional Chinese word for the process I call "fining" is chao  , whose basic meaning is "stir-frying", a process in Chinese cooking which the iron-production process resembles . The word has unfortunately been translated into English in numerous different ways, e.g. "roasting", "parching", "puddling", "refining", "fining". "Fining", the word I have chosen here, is a nineteenth-century English word for a broad range of iron-production processes which work in the same general way. Readers of the available literature in English on ancient East Asian iron-production processes are hereby warned to be aware of the different terms used for the same process. Similarly they should be aware that bloomery iron is often called "sponge" iron.

Another means of producing wrought iron raw material from cast iron was used in the Han and somewhat later times. Whereas in the fining process the iron is heated so hot that it is in a pasty state and can be stirred about, it is also possible to use a lower temperature and decarburize the iron in the solid state. Cast iron from the blast furnace is cast into thin plates, typically on the order of 10 x 20 cm and 0.4 cm thick (e.g. KGXB 1978.1: 21, pl. 2.4). These are heat-treated, presumably in a kiln, in an oxidizing atmosphere, perhaps at a temperature of 750-850deg.C for a period of days. This process removes the carbon and results in wrought-iron plates which can be easily formed by the smith by either hot or cold hammering. This process was probably less fuel-efficient than fining, but may have been more labour-efficient and, perhaps most important, lent itself to large-scale production by unskilled labourers with quality control by sampling rather than piece-by-piece testing. We shall see below certain artefacts found in Korea and Japan which resemble these Chinese artefacts and may be imports from the large-scale iron industry of Han China.

Digression: Early iron in Siberia

I have often heard in conversations with colleagues that iron artefacts of enormous age have been found throughout Siberia. I expect that someone at the roundtable will be able to give me a precise reference on this, perhaps even in a language which I can read. In a quick trip to the library I found the following.

The famous Frozen Tombs of Siberia, five barrows excavated at Pazyryk, in southern Siberia near the borders of Xinjiang and Mongolia, all contain iron artefacts (Rudenko 1970: 314, 315, 317, 318, 319, 321, 323, 326, 327). These include horse-bits, daggers, and a hairpin. All are of wrought iron, none of cast iron (ibid.: 207). A floating dendrochronology of the wood in the tombs indicates that they were constructed over a period of 48 years; conventional dating methods suggest an absolute date in the late fifth century B.C., and radiocarbon does not contradict this date. All of the tombs show clear Scythian influence, and most contain articles imported from China. It is not known whether the iron artefacts were made locally or imported, but it seems clear that either the technology for making them or the artefacts themselves were imported from the West. The date is much earlier than any reliably dated iron artefacts in north China, while the Scythians are known to have had iron much earlier.

According to Chester S. Chard's useful survey, Northeast Asia in prehistory (1974: 153), by about 700 B.C. "[t]here was marked cultural homogeneity . . . throughout the Eurasian steppe world, so that life in the Altai region has much in common with that of the Scythians of southern Russia." In the upper Yenisei valley, "[d]uring the fourth through the second centuries B.C. iron finally replaced bronze as the standard metal, a process that had taken place several centuries earlier among the Scythians. The time lag is probably explained by the very high quality of Altai bronze, which offered little inducement to change until iron-working had attained a comparable level locally." I take this to mean that implicit or explicit evidence of a knowledge of iron is found here significantly earlier than the fourth century B.C.; suggesting again a date earlier than that for iron in north China.

In Xinjiang some surprisingly early dates for iron have been published in recent years (see especially Chen Ge 1989; also 1981; 1987; 1990; Cong Dexin & Chen Ge 1991; Sun Binggen & Chen Ge 1987; 1988; Zhang Ping a.o. 1989; Zhang Yuzhong 1985). Iron is found in graves which for the most part show no sign at all of Chinese influence and which have surprisingly early radiocarbon dates. Chen Ge (1989: 426-427) gives a table of 35 radiocarbon dates (by three different laboratories) for graves in Xinjiang in which iron artefacts were found. The dates can be summarized as follows:

There seems to be little room for doubt that iron was known here by the eighth century B.C., but I would tend to be wary of the dates which are earlier than this, for they are difficult to fit in with what we know of iron in Siberia and China. They can perhaps be explained as the tail of the Gaussian distribution of radiocarbon dates of the eighth century B.C. The region seems clearly to have had no contact with the Central Plain before the Han period.

There are also some early dates for iron in parts of Gansu (Pu Chaofu 1981; Pu Chaofu & Zhao Jianlong 1984; cf. Chen Ge 1989: 431), perhaps again pointing to a date in the eighth century B.C. for iron. Here, however, there are clearer signs of contact with the Central Plain.

All of the dates for northern iron discussed above seem to fit a pattern which requires no great strain of the reader's credulity: iron appears to have been introduced into Siberia by the Scythians, perhaps as early as the eighth century B.C. Further east, in the Russian Maritime Province, it is something of a shock to find the following statement by Chard (1974: 94) without further discussion: "Iron appears in the Vladivostok area in the eleventh to twelfth centuries B.C., coinciding with the development of the so-called Shell Mound or Sidemi culture." This is as early as the beginning of the Iron Age of Greece, and much earlier than iron anywhere else in Asia. I wonder whether someone can tell me more about these finds: their context, the means by which they have been dated, and whether this dating is generally accepted as uncontroversial. Murakami (1991) mentions the iron artefacts of this culture, but does not seem to take them seriously.

Even with an extremely conservative view of the dating of the material described above, it seems to be definite that, long before iron was known in the Chinese states of the Central Plain, it was known and used in the adjacent regions to the north and northwest. Since there were cultural contacts with the northern regions long before this, we can almost take it as given that Scythian iron artefacts will at some time turn up in the Central Plain in Spring and Autumn or even Western Zhou period contexts - the wonder is that this has not already happened. It will not change the fundamental conclusion stated earlier: that when iron does come into use in the Central Plain it comes from the south rather than from the north. I base this conclusion both on the types and styles of the artefacts and on the technology by which they are made. The failure of the northern iron technology to diffuse to the Central Plain, in a time when other cultural influences from the north are clearly documented, is an important problem in early Chinese history. It is not, however, important in our present discussion, and I shall have no more to say about it here.

Early iron in Korea

Where did Korean iron technology come from? With respect to this question the conclusion of the above discussion seems to be that it may have come from the West, through the Scythians and the peoples of Siberia; from China, by any of a number of possible routes; or from both at different times or in different places. Both the precise dates and the details of the technology will become important in answering this question.

An iron technology from the West can be expected to be based on wrought iron produced in bloomery furnaces. Presumably information is available on the exact construction of Scythian bloomeries, and when bloomeries are excavated in Korea a comparison with these will no doubt be useful. An iron technology from north China can hardly arrive in Korea before the end of the fourth century B.C., and may be expected to involve blast furnaces, iron-casting, and wrought iron made from cast iron by fining. As soon as we find cast-iron artefacts in Korea we can be certain that the technology has come from China. It will be more difficult, perhaps impossible, to distinguish between the two traditions through examination of wrought-iron artefacts, but it may be that future research will point out particular smithy techniques, used in the one tradition and not in the other, which can have diagnostic value here.

There seems to be considerable controversy concerning the date of the first use of iron in Korea. Sarah Taylor (1989: 422, 427) notes that the dates which have been proposed range from the eighth to the third century B.C. Dr. Yoon (1986: 69) cites (and dismisses) Lee Byng-sn's statement (1967) that "the early iron age along the Yalu River had begun as early as the 7th century BC." The early dates come from the north, and it appears that North Korean archaeology is not taken seriously in South Korea or in the West: "The very early dates suggested by North Korean scholars (seventh or eighth centuries BC, i.e. before the first firmly dated iron production in China) seem motivated by nationalism as much as anything else, though it is often difficult to gain access to the data on which they base these claims" (Taylor 1989: 427). I must leave the discussion of the merits of North Korean archaeology in general, and of these claims in particular, to those who (1) have access to the relevant publications, (2) can read them, and (3) have the necessary expertise to evaluate their reasoning. But it is very important to repeat that the first iron in Korea need not have come from China. Scytho-Siberian influences are known in South Korea, albeit at later dates than are relevant here (e.g. the Ipsil-ni  site, Kyngju, dated to the late third century B.C., Kim Jeong-hak 1978: 138-140), and we should expect to find the earliest such influences in the north. Dr. Yoon (1986: 69) cites with approval the statement by Tho Yu-ho (1960) that "in the northeastern sector of the Peninsula, the early iron age culture had already started on or about the 4th century BC by not only Chinese influences but also Siberian, particularly along the Tuman River Basin."

Further study of this question will require attention to the precise dating of iron artefacts in Korea, Manchuria, and eastern Siberia and to the cultural relations of their contexts. It will also be important to know more about the technology by which the iron artefacts were made. If an artefact is of cast iron, either it or its technology undoubtedly came from China, and any date before the late fourth century B.C. is suspect. If an artefact is of wrought iron, it or its technology may have been imported from either China or Siberia; we do not today have a method to distinguish the two wrought-iron technologies, but such methods may be developed in the future. And early dates will suggest Siberian rather than Chinese influence.

Dr. Yoon (1984: 35-46) gives a brief survey of iron-production sites from the third century B.C. onward in southern Korea. Since he mentions slag "floating above the molten iron during iron ore smelting" (pp. 35), it appears to be his judgement that these are blast-furnace sites. He reproduces photographs of the excavation of a furnace bottom at an unspecified site; to my eye this particular feature does not look like the remains of a blast furnace, but it could easily be a bloomery, a finery, or a blacksmith's forge. With the very brief descriptions of the sites I do not feel able to choose among these four possibilities: any one of the four operations would leave behind slag, tuyères, and furnace bottoms; there are some analyses of slag (p. 81), but these do not appear to help in the determination of what process produced the slag. At periods as late as the second century B.C., in South Korea, one might expect Chinese technological influence to be dominant, and might therefore be very surprised to find a bloomery: but note the remarks below on the influence of a "modern" iron industry on the technology of a "traditional" iron industry. We should in any case expect numerous blacksmiths' forges by this time; if fineries are found, this would allow the conclusion that the blacksmiths worked with raw material which was locally produced rather than imported, and it will be reasonable to suppose that the remains of blast furnaces will at some time be found in the same region.

As to the technological aspects which can be determined by metallographic examination, we have an article and two books in English by Dr. Yoon (1984; 1986; 1990) as well as a doctoral dissertation in Korean by his student, Yi Nam-kyu, briefly discussed by Kim Won-yong (1986: 139-140).

In the first-mentioned of Dr. Yoon's books (1984) he investigates a large selection of iron artefacts excavated in southern Korea in contexts dated from the third century B.C. to the third century A.D. These include wrought-iron, steel, and cast-iron artefacts.

Some of the wrought-iron and steel artefacts are said to be of bloomery iron, others of fined iron; the method by which this is determined seems to be that of the Li Zhong group, mentioned earlier, which I have argued against. I do not think it is possible yet to make such determinations.

It is interesting to see that the carbon contents of the artefacts tend to be higher than in corresponding Chinese iron artefacts. In ancient Chinese steel artefacts carbon contents over 0.5% are very rare, whereas almost half of these Korean artefacts have such high carbon contents. It is curious to see "pegs" and "rivets" made of high-carbon steel (pp. 60, 141) and in one case even quench-hardened (p. 141): perhaps we should think again about the functions of these artefacts.

A chisel (pp. 67-69) has pure iron at its centre and an outer layer of steel with 0.81% carbon and 6.31% silicon. This silicon content is surprising; modern iron rarely has over 2% silicon, and one generally finds even less in ancient iron. Dr. Yoon suggests that this chisel was carburized by dipping it into molten cast iron, and this does seem very likely, though I am not quite sure why this would give an especially high silicon content in the carburized iron. It is unfortunate that Dr Yoon does not give a micrograph of the carburized outer layer which can be compared with J. E. Rehder's experimental results with this carburizing process (1989: 32-34). No examples of the use of this method are known from ancient China, though a traditional process which resembles it has been used in China in the twentieth century (Luo Mian 1936).

Among the cast iron artefacts there are a few with very high silicon contents, 5.05% and 4.20% respectively in two "axes" (pp. 76, 127). The rest very nearly all have under 1% silicon, which is normal for ancient Chinese cast iron. The Korean cases of high-silicon cast iron are puzzling, and perhaps indicate a different iron-smelting process than blast furnace smelting of the ancient Chinese type.

All of the cast-iron artefacts are of the type called "white cast iron", which is very hard and brittle. None is malleable cast iron, which was used in China in the same period (see above). None is grey or mottled cast iron either, but Dr. Yoon (1984: 93) refers to reports by Kim Chng-hak (1977: 5) and Choi Sang-jun (1966) respectively of artefacts of these two types of cast iron. Both types are very rare in ancient China.

One artefact is interpreted by Dr. Yoon as malleable cast iron (no. Gt-4-2, pp. 73-74). I feel some doubt as to whether this interpretation is entirely correct: the structure shown in Dr. Yoon's Photos 27-28 (cf. 1986: 73, fig. 5) looks to my eye more like that of white cast iron with a very slight trace of mottling. The structure appears to be over-etched, so that small areas of pearlite + graphite are black and resemble graphite nodules.

A wrought-iron plate is interpreted by Dr. Yoon (p. 139) as raw material for a smith. Its microstructure is surprisingly free of slag inclusions, and it may be that we have here an example of the plates of solid-state-decarburized cast iron (mentioned earlier) which were manufactured at the large ironworks of Han China.

Dr. Yoon's 1990 book examines a large selection of iron artefacts from Three Kingdoms  contexts. In a superficial study of these I did not find any new technical aspects which are not already seen in the earlier material. Nor do there seem to be any obvious differences in technology among the artefacts of Paekche, Kaya, and Silla (Kogury is not represented).

A very curious matter (pp. 26, 35) is a wushu  iron coin whose chemical analysis indicates only 0.46% carbon. But its microstructure (Photo 33, p. 35) looks very much like that of white cast iron with 3-4% carbon, and the coin itself (Photo 32) looks like a casting. It would also be an absolutely unique find if a pre-modern Chinese coin of any period were found to be wrought (of steel) rather than cast. It seems necessary to check the chemical analysis of this artefact again.

Let us now note once again that we have no definite evidence on whether any of the artefacts discussed above are imports or local products. In any particular case the possibilities are that an artefact was imported from outside, made locally from imported iron, or made locally from locally-produced iron. It would probably have made good economic sense to import wrought iron from China and let local blacksmiths make the desired products: the large-scale iron industry of China probably produced cheaper (and possibly, but not necessarily, better) wrought-iron raw material than any local small-scale industry could, but local blacksmiths would have been better able to fulfil local requirements for weapons and tools than distant Chinese blacksmiths.

I suggest further that the availability of cheap iron from China, in the Han period and possibly earlier, might have had a specific effect on Korean iron production. What we see in the nineteenth century in China is that, in competition with cheap iron produced by the modern English iron industry, the most advanced and sophisticated Chinese traditional ironworks closed while the less advanced (more labour-intensive and less capital-intensive) ironworks in remote and economically backward areas survived and sometimes even prospered. I cannot go into this phenomenon in any detail here, but its explanation concerns the relative mobility of capital, labour, and goods. Advanced iron-production techniques are inherently large-scale and therefore require large markets; large markets require good transportation facilities and are therefore the first to be invaded by the cheap imports.

Comparison between the Korean situation vis-à-vis the Han iron industry and the Chinese situation vis-à-vis the nineteenth-century English iron industry suggests that local blast-furnace plants might not have been economically viable, while small-scale bloomery iron production, using a technology learned from Siberia, might have continued. This is only a suggestion, and obviously it will require both a more rigorous formulation of the problem and considerably more archaeological material before it can be taken seriously.

Early iron in Japan

The general consensus among scholars appears to be that the earliest iron artefacts found in Japan are from the early Yayoi  period; these earliest artefacts are imports, but by the late Yayoi period iron weapons and tools are being made locally (see e.g. Kubota 1986; Yoshimura & Barnes n.d.). The same question is relevant here as in Korea: was the raw material for these locally-produced iron artefacts produced locally or imported?

A large number of wrought-iron plates, very similar to those mass-produced by the Han iron industry (see above), have been found in Japan. These are listed by Li Jinghua (1992: 109), who proposes that they are imports from China. I agree with him that this is the most likely explanation for these artefacts.

Hashiguchi Tatsuya (1992: 99-100) reproduces diagrams of two iron-production sites in Kyushu  , but gives no explanation. One of these, his figure 1, excavated in Fukuoka  , is fascinating, for it appears to show an odd type of bloomery which might be an early ancestor of the traditional Japanese tatara   furnace (on which see e.g. Rostoker et al. 1989). It is dated to a time between the late Kofun  and the late Nara  period. If this is indeed a bloomery it is the earliest I know of from anywhere in East Asia. It shows that bloomeries were in use in early times in the Korea-Japan area, and my guess is that the bloomery iron-production technology was learned from Siberia rather than from China. Its peculiar construction may have been developed in Korea or Japan in response to the technical problems caused by the use of ironsand ore; such problems have been observed in eighteenth-century American bloomeries (Horne 1773) and in twentieth-century Chinese traditional "dwarf" blast furnaces (Wagner 1985: 17, 38, 55, 57).

Hashiguchi (1992: 101) also illustrates several early iron axeheads  from Kyushu. Some of these closely resemble early Chinese cast-iron implement-caps, while others are obviously of wrought iron. The former he takes to be imports, the latter local products, and I would agree. There is however a peculiar problem here: in each of the "cast iron" axeheads, at the socket end, there is a gap which Li Jinghua (1992) takes to be a sign that these artefacts actually are of wrought iron, and he therefore suggests that they are local wrought-iron imitations of imported Chinese cast-iron axeheads. In Hashiguchi's sketches these artefacts look very much like cast iron, and it would have required great skill on the part of the smith to imitate the cast implements so closely. The gaps in these artefacts may be cracks which occurred in the casting process: somewhat similar cracks are seen occasionally in ancient Chinese cast-iron artefacts (e.g. Mancheng 1980: 280-281, pl. 197.1). In modern times, when white cast iron is cast, in order to avoid such cracks, the core of the mould is normally made of a material which is crushable and does not resist the shrinkage of the casting during solidification. In ancient China this type of artefact was often cast in cast-iron moulds with cast-iron cores, and cracking during solidification can be expected to have been a common phenomenon. Examination of the artefacts from Kyushu should solve this problem very quickly.

References and abbreviations

AO = Ars Orientalis: The arts of Islam and the East.

BFWW = Beifang wenwu ("Northern cultural relics").

BMM = Bulletin of the Metals Museum (Sendai, Japan). Japanese title: Kinzoku Hakubutsukan kiyo .

Chard, Chester S. 1974 Northeast Asia in prehistory. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Chen Ge 1981
("Ancient tombs on the Pamir Plateau"), by the Institute of Archaeology, Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences ; written by --. KGXB 1981.2: 199-216 + plates 1-4. English abstract p. 216.

Chen Ge 1987
(New insights on the Neolithic cultures of Xinjiang), KG 1987.4: 343-351 + 322.

Chen Ge 1989
(Early iron arti facts unearthed in Xinjiang: With a note on the earliest use of iron in China), Su Bingqi 1989: 425-432.

Chen Ge 1990
(The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age culture in Xinjiang), KG 1990.4: 366-374.

Choi Sang-jun 1966 "Analyses of iron artifacts made in prehistoric period and ancient times", Archaeology and folklore, 1966.3. [Not seen; cited, Yoon Dong-suk 1984: 93.]

Cong Dexin & Chen Ge 1991
(Second and third excavation seasons of graves at Qunbake in Luntai County, Xinjiang), by the Xingjiang Work Team, Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Bayan Gol Mongol Autonomous District Cultural Relics Office, Xinjiang ; written by --. KG 1991.8: 684-703 + 736 + plates 1-3.

Dien, Albert E. (et al., eds.) 1985 Chinese archaeological abstracts, vols. 2-4 (Monumenta archaeologica, vols. 9-11), ed. by --, Jeffrey K. Riegel, and Nancy T. Price. 3 vols., Los Angeles: Institute of Archaeology, University of California.

EC = Early China.

Gettens, Rutherford J.; Clarke, Roy S.; & Chase, W. T. 1971 Two early Chinese bronze weapons with meteoritic iron blades (Freer Gallery of Art, Occasional papers, vol. 4, no. 1). Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art.

Gongxian 1962
Gongxian Tieshenggou
(Zhongguo tianye kaogu baogao ji: Kaoguxue zhuankan, D.13 )
(Excavation of a Han-period ironworks site at Tieshenggou in Gongxian County, Henan), by the Archaeological Team, Henan Provincial Bureau of Culture . Beijing: Wenwu Chubanshe. English abstract pp. 39-40. English title: T'ieh Shêng Kou, Kung Hsien. (Important corrections, Zhao Qingyun et al. 1985.)

Hashiguchi Tatsuya 1992
(Iron production in ancient Kyushu, Japan), HXKG 1992.4: 98-105. Ch. tr. by Xun Chunsheng. Jap. orig. . . . , in Nihon kodai no tetsu seisan , 1987.

Horne, Henry 1773 Essays concerning iron and steel: The first, concerning observations on American sand-iron; the second . . . [In my reading notes I neglected to note the place of publication.]

Hua Jueming 1982b
(Meteoritic iron, meteoritic iron artifacts, and the invention of iron-smelting), KJSW 9: 17-22.

Huang Zhanyue 1976
(On the problem of the first smelting of iron and use of iron implements in China), WW 1976.8: 62-70.

HXKG = Huaxia kaogu ("Huaxia archaeology").

Jiangling 1984
Jiangling Yutaishan Chu mu
(Excavation report on 558 Chu graves at Yutaishan in Jiangling, Hubei), by the Jingzhou Regional Museum, Hubei .Beijing: Wenwu Chubanshe. English abstract pp. 192-194.

Ke Jun (ed.) 1986
Zhongguo yejin shi lunwenji
(Essays on the history of metallurgy in China). Beijing: Beijing Gangtie Xueyuan. Reprints of 33 articles. English summaries pp. A1-A74.

KG = Kaogu ("Archaeology").

KG 1975.4: 241-243
(Preliminary report on metallographic examination of iron artifacts from grave no. M44 at the Yanxiadu site in Yixian County, Hebei), by the Pressure-processing Section, Beijing University of Iron and Steel Technology
. Repr. Ke Jun 1986: 68-69 + A29 + B16. Tr. by DBW, Dien et al. 1985, 3: 849-853. [The micrographs in this article are very poorly reproduced, but better micrographs from some of the same artifacts are given by Li Zhong (1975, pl. 1.4, 2.11-12, 3.13-18).]

KGXB = Kaogu xuebao ("Acta archaeologia Sinica").

KGXB 1978.1: 1-24 + plates 1-2
("The iron and steel making techniques of the Han dynasty in Henan"), by the Henan Provincial Museum ; the Blast Furnace Plant of the Shijingshan Steel Plant, Shoudu Iron and Steel Company ; and the Chinese Archaeo-Metallurgy Study Group . English summary p. 24. Repr. Ke Jun 1986: 70-85 + A30-A31 + B16-B18.

KGyWW = Kaogu yu wenwu ("Archaeology and cultural relics").

Kim Won-Yong 1986 Art and archaeology of ancient Korea, Seoul: Taekwang Publishing Co.

Kim, Cho*ng-hak 1977 "Preliminary report on ancient tombs at Yeanri", Hanguk kogo hakbo (Journal of Korean archaeological studies), 1977.4. [Not seen; cited, Yoon Dong-suk 1984: 93.]

Kim, Jeong-hak 1978 The prehistory of Korea, tr. & ed. by Richard J. Pearson & Kazue Pearson. Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii.

KJSW = Ke ji shi wenji (Studies on the history of science and technology), Shanghai: Kexue Jishu Chubanshe.

Kubota, Kurao 1986 "Introduction of ironware culture into Japan", BMM 11: 81-92.

Lee, Byong-son [same as Yi Pyong-son ?] 1967 Kogo minsok (Archaeology and folklore). [Not seen; cited, Yoon Dong-Suk 1986: 69, 75.]

Li Jinghua 1992
(The provenance of the early iron artifacts of Kyushu, Japan), HXKG 1992.4: 106-109 + 8. English tr. by Masanori Tokuda & Jing-zhi Yu, BMM 1992, 17: 32-39.

Li Zhong [pseud.] 1975
("The development of iron and steel technology in ancient China"), KGXB 1975.2: 1-22 + plates 1-6. English summary pp. 21-22. Repr. with important additions and revisions, Ke Jun 1986: 53-67 + plates 8.1-8.18 (pp. B11-16) + English summary pp. A25-28.

Li Zhong [pseud.] 1976b
("Studies on the iron blade of a Shang dynasty bronze Yüeh-axe unearthed at Kao-ch'eng, Hupei, China"), KGXB 1976.2: 17-34 + plates 1-8. English abstract pp. 33-34. English tr., AO 1979, 11: 259-289.

Liu Shishu 1975
(Excavation of grave no. M44 at the Yanxiadu site in Yixian County, Hebei), KG 1975.4: 228-240 + 243 + plates 3-5.

Luo Mian (ca. 1936)
Gang tie
(Iron and steel), report no. 15 in Zhongguo Gongchengshi Xuehui Sichuan Kaochatuan baogao (Reports of the Sichuan Investigation Group, Chinese Engineering Society). n.p., n.d. Preface dated 1936.

Mancheng 1978
Mancheng Han mu
(The Han tombs in Mancheng County, Hebei), by the Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Workers' Theoretical Group, Beijing Instrumentation Plant . Beijing: Wenwu Chubanshe. [A popular presentation.]

Murakami Kyoto 1991
(The Early Iron Age in northeast Asia), Chinese tr. by Qiao Liang , BFWW 1991.1: 94-101. Japanese orig. in Kodai bunka 1987.9.

Needham, Joseph 1958 The development of iron and steel technology in China (Second Dickinson Memorial Lecture to the Newcomen Society, 1956). London: The Newcomen Society.

Needham, Joseph 1980 "The evolution of iron and steel technology in East and Southeast Asia", Wertime & Muhly 1980: 507-541.

Nianjian 1984
Zhongguo kaoguxue nianjian 1984
(Yearbook of Chinese archaeology, 1984), ed. by Chinese Archaeological Society . Beijing: Wenwu Chubanshe, 1985.

Nianjian 1985
Zhongguo kaoguxue nianjian 1985
(Yearbook of Chinese archaeology, 1985), ed. by Chinese Archaeological Society . Beijing: Wenwu Chubanshe, 1985.

Piaskowski, Jerzy 1992 "Distinguishing between directly and indirectly smelted iron and steel", Archeomaterials 1992, 6.2: 169-173.

Pu Chaofu & Zhao Jianlong 1984
(Investigation of a site of the Shajing Culture at Sanjiaocheng in Yongchang County, Gansu), by the Cultural Relics Work Team, Gansu Provincial Museum and Wuwei Regional Exhibition Hall ; written by --. KG 1984.7: 598-601.

Pu Chaofu 1981
(Graves of the Shajing Culture at Yushugou in Yongdeng County, Gansu), by Cultural Relics Work Team, Gansu Provincal Museum ; written by --. KGyWW 1981.4: 34-36 + plates 5-6.

Rehder, J. E. 1989 "Ancient carburization of iron to steel", Archeomaterials, 3.1: 27-37. Cf. Wagner 1990a.

Rostoker, W.; Bronson, B.; & Dvorak, J. R. 1989 "Smelting to steel by the Japanese tatara process", Archeomaterials, 3.1: 69-87.

Rostoker, William & Bronson, Bennet 1990 Pre-industrial iron: Its technology and ethnology (Archeomaterials monograph, no. 1). Philadelphia: privately published. ISBN 0-924171-03-0.

Rudenko, Sergei I. 1970 Frozen tombs of Siberia: The Pazyryk burials of Iron Age horsemen. Tr. by M. W. Thompson. London: J. M. Dent. Orig. Kultura Naseleniya Gornogo Altaya v Skifskoe Vremya, Moscow / Leningrad: Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., 1953.

Su Bingqi 1989
Qingzhu Su Bingqi kaogu wushiwu nian lunwen ji
(Festschrift for Su Bingqi's fifty-fifth anniversary in archaeology), Beijing: Wenwu Chubanshe.

Sun Binggen & Chen Ge 1988
(First excavation season of graves at Qunbake in Luntai County, Xinjiang), by the Xingjiang Team, Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Bayan Gol Mongol Autonomous District Cultural Relics Office, Xinjiang ; written by --. KG 1987.11: 987-996.

Sun Binggen & Chen Ge 1988
("Cemetery no. 1 at Chawuhu Pass, Hejing County, Xinjiang"), by the Xinjiang Team, Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Bayan Gol Mongol Autonomous District Cultural Relics Office, Xinjiang ; written by --. KGXB 1988.1: 75-98 + plates 7-16. English abstract p. 99.

Taylor, Sarah 1989 "The introduction and development of iron production in Korea: A survey", World archaeology, 20.3: 422-433.

Tho, Yu-ho 1960 Chosun wonsi kogohak (Korean primitive archaeology). [Not seen; cited, Yoon Dong-Suk 1986: 69, 75.]

Trousdale, William 1977 "Where all the swords have gone: Reflections on some questions raised by Professor Keightley", EC 3: 65-66.

Wagner, Donald B. 1985 Dabieshan: Traditional Chinese iron-production techniques practised in southern Henan in the twentieth century (Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies monograph series, 52). London & Malmö: Curzon Press. Cf. Hara Zenshiro 1991.

Wagner, Donald B. 1987a "The dating of the Chu graves of Changsha: The earliest iron artifacts in China?", Acta Orientalia (Copenhagen), 48: 111-156.

Wagner, Donald B. 1990a "Ancient carburization of iron to steel: a comment", Archeomaterials, 4.1: 111-117; erratum 1990, 4.2: 118. Comment on Rehder 1989.

Wagner, Donald B. 1993 Iron and steel in ancient China (Handbuch der Orientalistik, 4:9), Leiden: E. J. Brill, forthcoming March 1993.

Wertime, Theodore A. & Muhly, James D. 1980 The coming of the age of iron, New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

WW = Wenwu ("Cultural relics").

WW 1978.2: 28-43
(Excavation of a Han-period iron-smelting site at Guxingzhen in Zhengzhou, Henan), by the Zhengzhou Municipal Museum . Translation by DBW in Dien et al. 1985, 3: 1040-1065.

Yoon, Dong-Suk [Yun Tong-sok] 1984 Metallurgical study of the early Iron Age artifacts found in Korea. Pohang Iron and Steel Co.

Yoon, Dong-Suk [Yun Tong-sok] 1986 "Early iron metallurgy in Korea", BMM 11: 68-75.

Yoon, Dong-Suk [Yun Tong-sok] 1990 A metallurgical study of the early ironware artifacts made during the Three Kingdom period of Korea. Pohang Iron and Steel Co.

Yoshimura, K. & Barnes, G. L. n.d. "Iron armour and weapons in protohistoric Japan", unpublished typescript, 8 pp.

Yuan Jinjing & Zhang Xiande 1977
(Shang-period tombs excavated in Pinggu County, Beijing). By Beijing Municipal Cultural Relics Office ; written by --. WW 1977.11: 1-8 + plates 2-5.

Zhang Ping (a.o.) 1989
("The Yanbulake Cemetery in Hami, Xinjiang), by the Cultural Relics Office, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region Cultural Department and the Program for Cultural and Museum Cadres, Department of History, Xinjiang University ; written by --. KGXB 1989.3: 325-362 + plates 7-14. English abstract p. 362.

Zhang Yuzhong 1985
(Ancient tombs in the Nanshan Mining Region, Urumqi Municipality, Xinjiang), Nianjian 1985: 256.

Zhao Qingyun (et al.) 1985
(A reinvestigation of the Han ironworks site at Tieshenggou in Gongxian County, Henan), by --, Li Jinghua , Han Rubin , Qiu Lianghui , and Ke Jun . KGXB 1985.2: 157-183 + pl. 1-4. English abstract pp. 182-183. Repr. Ke Jun 1986: 92-107 + A33-A35 + pl. 12.1-12.23.

Zou Houben 1984
(Stone-chamber tumulus sites at Wufengshan in Wuxian County, Jiangsu), Nianjian 1984: 105-106.