As the trò chơi of Thrones saga winds down, Valyrian steel has never been more important. It’s one of the few substances known to lớn kill White Walkers, but only about a half-dozen known characters currently wield weapons made from the magical material — and it’s not possible khổng lồ make more. That’s because, according lớn the lore of the show và A Song of Ice và Fire books, the secret for forging the metal was lost long before the Game of Thrones story starts.

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Valyrian steel is also one more way in which trò chơi of Thrones, fantastical though it is, has liên kết to real history. George R.R. Martin himself has told fans that Valyrian steel’s “closest real life analog is Damascus steel,” which is similarly renowned for its sharpness và strength. Valyrian steel also has a signature pattern that Martin describes as seeming khổng lồ “ripple and dance down the dark metal.” Real-life ancient writers described Damascus steel’s “wavy marks lượt thích the tracks of ants.”

And, lượt thích the secret of Valyrian steel, the art & science of making Damascus steel was lost for hundreds of years.

Then, in 1981, the Thủ đô New York 6struyenky.vns reported on the front page of the science section that Stanford University researchers appeared to have sầu “stumbled on the secret of Damascus steel” after the “formula had been lost for generations.” Those researchers were Oleg D. Sherby and Jeffrey Wadsworth.

“Nobody toàn thân knew how they were made & it was a well-kept secret,” Wadsworth, who has now retired as CEO of the private science development company Battelle, tells “We believe sầu we succeeded.” (Sherby died in năm ngoái.)

So what exactly is Damascus steel?

“The steels often came from India and they were forged in the Middle East & then sold in Damascus,” Wadsworth explains. “This had gone on for centuries. The steels were famous because they were tough & sharp & svào và better than competing steel swords — they’d defeat them in a condemo, they’d break them, they wouldn’t themselves be fractured — and they had this unusual surface pattern. The surface pattern has many descriptors; they’re very elegant, some of them, lượt thích sands moving across the desert or like waves on the surface of water.”

European warriors broadly learned about Damascus steel through tương tác with Middle Eastern fighters during the Crusades in the 11th century, & were impressed by their sharpness, elastiđô thị and hardness, as well as the patterned look of the blades, which could not be damaged even by the worst wear và tear. In his 1825 Crusades novel The Talisman, Sir Walter Scott describes an encounter between Saladin and King Richard, in which the Sulrã impresses the English king by showing off the sharp edge of his scimitar, which was “marked with ten millions of meandering lines.” (This same moment is ripped off in a seduction scene in The Bodyguard, Wadsworth notes.)


A Turkish saber with a 17th century grip, carved lớn emang đến the "watered" steel of the blade. On view at the Metropolichảy Museum of Art in Thủ đô New York City.

How the blades got that way was a tightly held trade secret. Legends surrounded the question — from the idea that the metal was first fed to chickens & then essentially harvested from their droppings, to lớn the idea that it was cooled after heating using goat urine or by “plunging it through the toàn thân of a muscular, active sầu slave, so the slave’s strength would be infused inlớn the metal,” as The Encyclopedia of the Sword puts it.

But as swords became less và less important to lớn warfare, the 6struyenky.vns reported in 1981, the methods of making this special steel were lost. For centuries, scientists & blacksmiths tried khổng lồ figure out how the original had been made, but the secret of the steel seemed uncrackable.

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Adding khổng lồ the confusion was the fact that it was possible khổng lồ replicate a sort of ripple pattern using a different method: laminating or pattern welding. In that technique, different types of steel are folded and layered khổng lồ create the finished product. This technique also has ancient origins — & a trò chơi of Thrones connection, with a Valyrian steel sword described as bearing ripples that are “the mark of steel that has been folded baông chồng on itself thousands of 6struyenky.vns” in A Storm of Swords. Over the years, the sản phẩm of that technique came also to be called Damascus steel by many. However, though the ripples were there, this was not the same as the original Damascus steel, in which the pattern came from within, a result of the arrangement of the crystals in the material, a special kind of metal that was known as wootz, says Wadsworth.

“If you watch Forged in Fire, when they talk about Damascus patterns, they’re invariably talking about layered metals,” he says. “But in fact the famous scimitars and swords from Persia were made the other way, which is much harder to do.”

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Sherby & Wadsworth came to their discovery by accident. At the, scientists were racing to lớn make advances in something called “superplasticity” — that is, trying lớn make metal alloys that became unusually stretchy at high temperatures. For steel, which is essentially an alloy of iron & carbon, this was difficult. Metallurgists knew they needed to get the grains in the steel smaller in order khổng lồ achieve superplastithành phố, but that meant having more carbon than usual in the set. However, once steel gets above sầu 1% carbon, it’s more brittle at room temperature, and thus not as useful. However, it turned out that, by processing the steel with the goal of making it have sầu that elastic quality (so, focusing on the tiny grain size), Sherby and Wadsworth ended up with a steel that was not brittle even though it had high carbon.

“It was at a conference we were at that somebody toàn thân came up khổng lồ us & said, ‘Hey, I think those steel compositions you’re using are identical to lớn those in the famed Damascus steels,"” Wadsworth recalls. “I had heard of them but I had no idea of the linkage. So we started investigating Damascus steels.”

After comparing their work khổng lồ ancient arms, Sherby and Wadsworth started working on achieving the signature ripple patterns on their steel, and realized they had made an important Damascus discovery: Though they still didn’t know precisely how ancient swordsmiths had done their work, they appeared lớn have figured out, on a chemical và physical màn chơi, part of what made Damascus steel special. In the years that followed, Sherby & Wadsworth encountered some push-baông chồng from others who had other theories about the centuries-long search for Damascus steel — research that has continued — but Wadsworth believes that their steel corresponds to that of ancient legkết thúc, thus solving a mystery that was lost for centuries.

And as it turns out, the reason why the technique was lost also has echoes in trò chơi of Thrones.

In order lớn achieve sầu Damascus steel, the artisans working on the metal would have sầu had to lớn be very specific about forging, heating, quenching (cooling) và tempering (reheating) the steel. But, without modern instruments, they couldn’t have known much about the chemical composition of steel & the precise temperatures for processing it.

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“When you have a product that’s really good & you don’t know what you’re doing or how you did it, a lot of ritual becomes attached to it. By ritual, you repeat what you did,” Wadsworth explains. “That leads to lớn a lot of theories about these swords being quenched inkhổng lồ slaves, khổng lồ transfer the strength of the slaves to the sword. All these myths arise when you don’t really know what’s going on but you need to remember the it worked.”

Helmut Nickel, then the curator of Arms & Armor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, told the 6struyenky.vns in 1981 that “legend had it that the best blades were quenched in ‘Long blood."”

That legend has its own trò chơi of Thrones echoes: Lightbringer, the sword of Azor Anhì, the legendary nhân vật whose reincarnation as the Prince Who Was Promised remains a major key to the future of the Thrones story. Though Lightbringer is not aý muốn the known Valyrian blades, Azor Anhị famously struggled with swords that were too brittle before succeeding at forging that sword by plunging the still-hot steel through the heart of his beloved wife, Nissa Nissa, so that, per A Clash of Kings, “her blood & her soul and her strength và her courage all went into lớn the steel.”

Wadsworth says it doesn’t make any sense khổng lồ believe that real Damascus steel was ever actually quenched by killing. Though it was some6struyenky.vns have sầu speculated that the human body toàn thân could have sầu been a source of carbon for the metal, he says evidence is lacking that it ever actually happened, và besides that, “a human body toàn thân would be a very poor quenching medium compared to oil.”

That fact may be little consolation to lớn those fans who worry that Lightbringer’s gory origin story might prompt a Jon or Daenerys khổng lồ try to lớn recapture the magic, as the fantasy realm doesn’t always take its cues from real life. After all, while real Damascus steel may no longer be a metallurgical mystery, the creation of Valyrian steel remains a lost secret to lớn those who forge the swords of Westeros.

Chuyên mục: Tin Tức

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