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A study on the technology of Lozenge-shaped pattern on bronze weapons in the eastern Zhou dynasty

Lian Haiping, Tan Derui, Wu Zejia (Shanghai, China)

In the Eastern Zhou Dynasty in China, there are kind of bronze weapons in the Wu und Yue areas, which have lozenge-shaped pattern on the surface. This kind of pattern has had splendid decoration and excellent workmanship. The sword with the inscription "Yue King Gou Jian, Made the Sword by Himself", which is one of the most famous swords, had a lozenge-shaped pattern on its surface. Archaeologists and scientists have paid much attention to it since seventies.

A fragment, which has a double-line lozenge-shaped pattern on its surface, is examined and analyzed. There is bright black patina layer on the line's design areas and dark gray-black patina layer on the non-line design areas. It was found that the body compositions of sword consist of copper 79.46wt%, tin 19.02wt% and lead 0.76wt%. The normal cast dendrite structure of Chinese bronze shows on this fragment, having dendrites of alpha-phase solution of tin in copper and eutectoid of alpha-phase and delta-phase. On the cross section of the fragment, there was the same dendrite structure as the body under the line's design areas of surface, but there was a thin fine dendrite layer under the non-line's design areas of surface, which thickness is dozens of micron. The structure and composition of this layer are different from the ones of body, which has higher tin than its body. The compositions of fine dendrite in this layer consist of copper 66.85%, tin 32.71%, silicon 0.15% and oxygen 0.25% (average value of two points), similar to the delta-Phase (Cu31Sn8) of copper 67.47% and tin 32.53%. The microhardness of fine dendrites was near three times as much as dendrite alpha-phase of body. So fine dendrites are delta-phase and this fine dendrite layer consisted of dendrite delta-phase and eutectoid alpha and delta. A serious corrosion had occurred under the lines design areas of surface, but only a slight corrosion had occurred under the non-line design areas. This fine dendrite layer has a high corrosionresisting ability and could protect sword body from oxidation and corrosion. Hence a kind of surface tin-enrichment took place during the surface ornament process. Several methods of forming the lozenge-shaped pattern are experimented with, and then a process named tin-rich paste coating treatment could successfully form a fine dendrite layer on bronze weapons similar to the ancient fragment.

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