Re: Vitrified forts (was Re: Information & Power /Alexandria library)

Michael S. Lorrey (
Fri, 07 May 1999 15:19:30 -0400

Randy wrote:

> On Fri, 7 May 1999 12:33:55 -0400, you wrote:
> >The ancients were as smart and clever as we (perhaps more so at times), and
> >I have no doubt that there is knowledge and technique that we once knew,
> >and do not know now. But I think that stone building techniques are not
> >likely amongst them. Look instead to botanical and psychological lore. And
> >personally, I think of these less as "Lost Secrets of the Ancients!" (cue
> >incidental music) and more as "Poorly Recorded Trade Secrets of People Who
> >are Dead Now"!
> Are you referring to "Damascus steel"? AFAIK, that has never been
> duplicated, but perhaps its quality was overestimated.

Damascus steel treatment processes were liberated long ago and have been common knowledge among blacksmiths for hundreds of years. Its also known as watered steel because of the rippled color you see from the hundreds of layers of alternating carbon densities. Gun barrels were made by a hammer forging process itilizing layered and wound case hardened wire that is an offshoot of the damascus method, and such barrels were called 'Damascus' barrels by the smiths who made them. Such barrels went out of favor with the advent of drilled and forged solid steel and nitro powders early in this century, as damascus barrels that were not proof fired at the factory for nitro powders had a risk of bursting when fired with these more powerful gun powders, rather than the black powder they were designed for. However, once you take a damascus barrel gun, do an inductance test on it and proof fire it with a 200% charge, it is proven usable for modern charges. The barrels that would burst were ones t hat had internal structural flaws that could not be seen with the old methods of quality control.

Mike Lorrey