Sunday, March 02, 2014

Sci-Tech watch, 14: The technology of the legendary and mysterious Viking ULFBERHT sword, c. AD 800 - 1,000

Sometimes, we need a reminder that we are not smarter, wiser in all things than those who went before us. An example:

An original + VLFBERH + T sword, in the National Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark (HT: KPBS-Nat Geog)

 So, courtesy Nat Geog-Nova, a modern attempt to capture the lost art of the Ulfberht blade:

Where did the Vikings (or possibly a monastery or the like or a workshop . . . ) get crucible steel nigh on a millennium before Europeans . . . again? . . . learned the art?  Was this steel a trade good from Persia? Or what? Why did it apparently disappear from the record or the practice of technology after 150 years or so? (Is this a lesson in how a trade secret can die out?)

Whatever the answer, let us respect the technology involved and understand what insightful trial and error can achieve. END