Sudanese iron spear, 1930s.

Image number: 10313596

Sudanese iron spear, 1930s.

This barbed iron spear was made and used by the Jur people of Sudan, and although it is only about 60 years old, the methods used to produce it date back over 2000 years. Iron's high melting point meant that extracting the metal from its ores was a difficult process. The material had to be heated to red-hot temperature, and constantly refined to expel impurities. Carbon, in the form of charcoal, was then added to improve the metal's qualities. The end result in this case was a barbed spear, that was easy to sharpen and has a lethal cutting edge.

Image number:
10313596
Credit:
Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
Date taken:
28 October 2003 11:38
Image rights:
Science Museum