Metallurgical Analysis of Forged Iron Axe Excavated from the Wood-framed Tomb at the Hwangseongdong, Gyeongju, Korea

경주 황성동 목곽묘에서 출토된 단조 철부의 금속학적 특성 분석

  • Lee, Chan-Hee (Department of Cultural Heritage Conservation Sciences, Kongju National University) ;
  • Lee, Myeong-Seong (Department of Cultural Heritage Conservation Sciences, Kongju National University) ;
  • Kim, Jeong-Hun (Conservation Science Team, Chungcheong Cultural Properties Research Institute) ;
  • Yi, Ki-Wook (Electron Microscope Lab, School of Dentistry, Indiana University)
  • 이찬희 (공주대학교 문화재보존과학과) ;
  • 이명성 (공주대학교 문화재보존과학과) ;
  • 김정훈 (충청문화재연구원) ;
  • 이기욱 (인디아나대학교 치의학연구소)
  • Published : 2004.10.01


The forged iron axe found in the No. 2 wood-framed tomb (the middle 3rd century) of Hwangseongdong, Gyeongju is rectangular on the plane level. It shows an obtuse angle in the edge part, while the joint part has the both sides folded up and shows the traces of wood. Under the reflected light, the Iron axe shines in metal luster, which is bright light gray or light creamy colors. The result of x-ray diffraction analysis shows that the axe consists of magnetite and geothite, which can explain why the composition and structure of the original ore has been kept intact. The microtexture of the axe has the irregular network of ferrite and pearlite, and tile cementite of tiny amount in the ferrite background. The overall treatment of the texture seems to be thermal with a high ratio of carbon. There are fine-grained magnetite, wolframite, quartz, calcite, mica, hornblende and pyroxene inside the axe. Those must be the impurities that they failed to remove in the refining process. The normal ferrite is composed of pure iron whose $Fe_2O_3$ proportion is from 99.16 to $99.84\;wt.\%$. Other than them, the ferrite parts usually contain $Al_2O_3\;and\;SiO_2$. The irregular network of pearlite also contains Impurities including $Al_2O_3\;and\;SiO_2$ and shows highly diverse patterns of carbon content. It's because the axe was carburized after the material was made to resemble pure iron. The decarbonization work didn't go well along the process marks. It's estimated that the original ore was bloom produced in low-temperature reduction and formed around in $727^{\circ}C$, which is eutetic temperature.