The Cutting Edge: Modern Metallography and the Ancient Secrets of Swordmaking

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History / Heritage - Exhibit

Date & Time: Tuesday, October 23, 2007 - Thursday, December 20, 2007

Suggested Audiences: Elders, Adult, College, High School
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WPI: George C. Gordon Library
3rd Floor Gallery
100 Institute Road
Worcester, MA 01609-2280
Cost: Free
Sponsored by: Higgins Armory. Metal Processing Institute, George C. Gordon Library
Description: Metallurgy has been among the most influential human technologies for over five thousand years, and the craft of swordmaking has always represented one of the greatest challenges to the metalworker. Blades must be hard enough to be sharp, yet tough enough to resist breakage. Preindustrial swordsmiths knew nothing of the material sciences that govern the properties of metals, yet their traditional techniques, handed down from generation to generation, allowed them to manipulate these properties to craft long, light blades that could hold a deadly cutting edge while enduring the punishing conditions of battlefield use.

This exhibit uses the tools of modern metallography--such as optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and electron diffusion analysis--to reveal the composition and structure of a selection of swords from the Higgins Armory collection, ranging from a Chinese bronze blade of 1000 BCE to a modern display sword, tracing the evolution of metals technology across the millennia.
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Entered by: WPI University Archives + Special Collections

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Created: September 18, 2007 at 2:28 PM
Last Modified: October 23, 2007 at 4:12 PM

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