As with the cultural history of man, the history of metals springs from the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates, one called Mesopotamia. The earliest signs of metalworking date back to about 4500 B.C.
The inhabitants of this fertile valley were the Sumerians. These people, a mixture of many ethnic backgrounds, were the true founders of metallurgy as we know it today.
The art of forging, shaping metal using heat and pressure, progressed until the Dark Ages; the same time that most industrial, scientific and cultural advancements halted. Before this time, possession of metals was highly regarded as a sign of wealth. The Romans even had gods dedicated to the forge, the most notable being Vulcan.
During the Dark Ages the production of weapons flourished. European culture and industry was severely set back due to constant wars. Yet the Iron industry remained much intact due to the need for weapons.
One of the most significant developments came from the combination of the Roman discovery of water power and the forging of metals. Water power was used to operate bellows and mechanical hammers. This significant discovery came into use between the 10th and 12th century A.D. Some water operated hammers were still being used into the 20th century.
The 19th century invention of the steam engine brought us to the doorstep of modern forging as we know it. Of course, to follow was the harnessing of electrical power and the development of explosive forming, which truly brought forging out of the dark ages.
Forging as an art form started with the desire to produce decorative objects from precious metals. Today, forging is a major world-wide industry that has significantly contributed to the development of man.
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