the Early Forge

When I looked up "ancient metal smithing" or "early iron forge" or even "ancient forge" I get an array of sketches all somewhat unsophisticated showing workmen treading on bellows blowing air into a charcoal fire.

If you don't like the internet I have maybe 20 books on the manual art of Blacksmithing. Take for instance a book called Wrought Iron by James Aston and Edward Story, A. M. Byers Company Pittsburgh, 1939. 97 ppgs. This is very technical treatise on the subject of wrought iron, the metal. It covers how it was manufactured over many centuries, from ancient Egypt onward to our modern era. It too shows the ancients stepping on the bellows over a pit type of forge.

Another rather good book, The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex W Bealer, Funk & Wagnalls, New York, 1969. 425 ppgs., gives a great History and a "How To" description of applying the art of blacksmithing. It is filled with drawings and technical charts requiring the reader to have a rather advanced interest in the subject. It too shows these rather cartoonish images of Egyptians treading on goat skins that blow air into a pit forge.

Cartoon Images
from the Internet
This image is presently published by The Project Gutenberg EBook:
History Of Egypt, Chaldĉa, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Volume 2, by G. Maspero
blacksmiths on bellows
The original image is said to have been drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Rosellini, Monumenti Civili, pl. 2 a.
"Their lot was a hard one, if we are to believe the description which ancient writers have handed down to us: "I have never seen a blacksmith on an embassy—nor a smelter sent on a mission— but what I have seen is the metal worker at his toil,— at the mouth of the furnace of his forge,— his fingers as rugged as the crocodile— and stinking more than fish–spawn." p. 98
space 200
And there is another image:
History of Iron: Forging iron in Ancient Egypt. Liebig collectible card series (French title: 'Histoire du fer'). 1914.
The above images portray a simple forced air forge prototype. The time frame is not really known, but many experts say the Egyptians entered the Iron Age about 1200 BCE. We know they possessed the skill to forge meteorite-iron: to wit the knife blade in King Tut's Tomb. I believe the above images portray a forge which has all the parts necessary for making iron and steel as illustrated below showing a side view for this early forced air forge.
Over many thousands of years (1200 BCE to 1850 CE) this forge design permeated the making of wrought iron and steel. It was the forge of choice for Colonial America.
Back to Three Basic Prototypes Or Explore The Colonial Forge Connection and the
Development of Present-Day Shop Forge Designs