Take the 2-minute tour ×
History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Travis's question got me to thinking that may be the relative infrequency of use of ironworking in the Old World was due to the fact that there was no easy availability of bog iron - which was one of the main sources of iron ore in middle ages.

However, upon looking, it seems that there were areas in modern USA territory that were very rich in bog iron.

Is there any research/writings explaining why bog iron smelting didn't get invented or at least widely used by the tribes in North America? Intuits/Escimos did use the meteorite iron, so it's not like there was no precedent; and I'm pretty sure that at least some tribes were at the development levels significantly exceeding that of Hittites (who were presumably the original inventors of iron working technology in the Old World).

Was it coal availability?

Easy availability of replacement materials making iron not needed?

Lack of settlement where bog iron areas were?

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer 1

(A good part of this answer is speculation.)

There were areas of the current U.S. with moderately stable, non-nomadic farming communities before Columbus. However, there were few, if any, large cities, the tribal governments were not very well organized, and the labor and economic systems were very weak and disorganized compared to Europe, Asia, and Africa.

This made it much more difficult to develop organized projects or industries that required a lot of labor, which resulted in less overall demand for iron and made it less likely for an iron industry to emerge. The small tribal governments also made large wars unlikely, which eliminated another source of demand for iron.

It seems likely that iron from meteorites or surface deposits was used in a limited way, but the knowledge probably didn't spread and most artifacts have likely long since rusted way.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.