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The new technical processes which introduced the widespread use of iron to the Mediterranean seem to have originated between the 13th and the 9th cents. bc. Iron was used for Mycenaean jewellery, and is mentioned in Homer. An iron bowl‐stand was one of the votives dedicated by Alyattes at Delphi. Greece possesses small iron‐deposits. The main sources in classical times were Elba and the country behind Trapezus. Elba was a major source of iron, and the slag‐heaps from Populonia in Etruria seem to represent an annual iron output of 1,600 to 2,000 tons from that city alone. Other ancient sources include Thrace and, under the Roman republic, Spain. Iron has a very high melting‐point, and ancient furnaces could not reach such temperatures; so wrought, not cast, iron was produced. Weapons were made of mild steel. Quenching to harden is known to Homer. The Romans produced blades which would not snap. See mines and mining.

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