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Iron production in the State of Qin during the Warring States period

Liu, Yaxiong; (2021) Iron production in the State of Qin during the Warring States period. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis focuses on the Qin State during the Warring States period as a political entity, and sets out to explore its iron production industry, aiming to model and understand the technological system adopted for iron production, tracing changes through time as well as exploring the interaction between the technology and its social context. Through the scientific study of archaeological iron unearthed from Qin civilian cemeteries and workshop across the Guanzhong Plain, it has been demonstrated that the iron production in the Qin state was predominantly based on cast iron smelting from the later stage of the middle Warring States period, with multiple technical pathways developed to cost-effectively produce various types of iron products. The mould casting process was adopted for producing most of the daily use artefacts and farming implements, with controlled cooling and annealing process applied to improve the mechanical strength of cast iron. Annealing and chaogang/fining techniques were used to convert cast iron into soft iron/steel, then further manufacture into tools and weapons through the forging process. Through the comparison between different technological choices, it has been demonstrated that the whole technological system was developed based on the aim to achieve optimum cost-effectiveness with the available techniques, while the technological tradition and cultural preferences also played key roles for the adoption of such an iron production system. Based on a synthesis of current research results, it has been argued that the State of Qin made the transition from bloomery iron smelting to cast iron smelting during the middle stage of the Warring States period, then quickly developed a functional and efficient technological system by the end of the Warring States period. This iron production system greatly promoted the development of the Qin state, mainly in the field of agricultural production, while weapon production for the Qin army also benefited from such an iron industry, which laid the foundations for the success of the unification war.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Iron production in the State of Qin during the Warring States period
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10130408
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