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Thread: A sword tempered from fine steel and....Goose poop?

  1. #1

    A sword tempered from fine steel and....Goose poop?

    Dietrich von Bern–König zu Bonn, München and Berlin: F.A. Herbig, 1982; p. 20. To create the sword Mimung, Wieland forged a sword, filed it down into metal shavings, mixed them with flour, and fed them to geese he had starved for three days. He then collected the birds' excrement, welded the undigested metal together, and made another sword.
    He repeated the process three times, finally forging a sword that "cut iron like clothes." Tests conducted by German metallurgists before and during WWII proved not only that the welding of carbon-enriched steel filings improved the cutting ability and compound stability of the weapon, but that the nitrates contained in the bird dung also caused a considerable increase in hardness–which made Mimung a weapon that reportedly was superior even to modern spring steel products.




    Uhm..far fetched sounding i'm sure, but is there possibly any fact at all to this? If so i want a sword made out of goose crap, laughs.
    I just thought this was intresting and wanted to share it with you guys.

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    The story has lasted on the order of 1500 years.

    I suspect there might be something to it.
    Sikandur~~Aim Small, Miss Small

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    I wonder how the geese felt about this (w)hole process.
    The battlefield is the place:
    where one toasts the divine liquor in war,
    where are stained red the divine eagles,
    where the jaguars howl . . . .

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    Re: A sword tempered from fine steel and....Goose poop?

    Originally posted by Darren Johnson
    Dietrich von Bern–König zu Bonn, München and Berlin: F.A. Herbig, 1982; p. 20. To create the sword Mimung, Wieland forged a sword, filed it down into metal shavings, mixed them with flour, and fed them to geese he had starved for three days. He then collected the birds' excrement, welded the undigested metal together, and made another sword.
    . . .




    Uhm..far fetched sounding i'm sure, but is there possibly any fact at all to this? If so i want a sword made out of goose crap, laughs.
    I just thought this was intresting and wanted to share it with you guys.
    Sounds like kooky pseudo-romantic "master race" propaganda to me. Perhaps a grain (no pun intended) of true somewhere?

    GRAVIOR ABYSSO ACUTIOR CAELO

  5. #5

    Angry

    Sounds like kooky pseudo-romantic "master race" propaganda to me. Perhaps a grain (no pun intended) of true somewhere?
    Oh yeah, anything the German people could come up with has to have something to do with nazis...
    ...even though the naizs were around for less than 1% of the history of the Germanic people, and that societies' weren't much better in the middle ages...


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    Interesting

    The Germans have always been very talented in engineering. In this case, they made a superior sword out of crap, which is the direct opposite today of some businesses that sell swords that are made like crap and are marketed as superior.
    Adrian
    Maestro of the Bolognese School (Spaghetti sauce, not fencing!)

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  7. #7

    Re: Interesting

    Originally posted by Adrian Ko
    The Germans have always been very talented in engineering. In this case, they made a superior sword out of crap, which is the direct opposite today of some businesses that sell swords that are made like crap and are marketed as superior.

    LMFAO Adrian!

  8. #8

    Re: Re: Interesting

    Anyways, on a more serious note. I think that sounds very intresting and that maybe someone should try it, not sure how the geese will like it, as someone said But hey..if it makes a sword that can "cut iron like clothes" then i'm game.

  9. #9
    If it is true (I'm sure some or our resident metallurgists will be along to straighten this out any minute now) it seems to me that 1) Someone would be doing it on a production basis. 2) There are easier ways to get nitrates into your steel. Why not just take goose manure and mix it with metal filings? I'm not sure why it would have to pass through the goose. Honestly this just sounds like a lot of crap.
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  10. #10

    Unless...

    Unless the reaction of the flour, digestive enzymes, and iron were somehow significant... weirder things have been known under the sun; the chichimecha down here have always mixed lime in with their corn, it's part of the old grinding process... but it also makes chemical changes in the corn that improves its quality as a food...
    Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but excellence admires and respects genius.

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    Re: Unless...

    I wonder what would happen if a human did the digestiing instead of a goose...? Would in create a superior weapon or a museum replicas sword? I dunno, but des a mighty warrior use his doody to do his duty? Maybe some day we'll find out.
    Ogmund

  12. #12
    I've heard of case hardening by using ammonia atmospheres at high temps...but nothing involving geese!

    Since we have to use steel shot for goose/duck hunting down here, there should be a gold mine of goose-dung-ore in the rice fields down here! I think I'll hold off on quitting my day job, though!
    Don Halter
    KragAxe Armoury
    Bryan, TX

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    So I guess the natural question is: How much would you have to pay a smith to even consider doing this?
    Eric

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    Just be glad you weren't a fuller back then.
    Sikandur~~Aim Small, Miss Small

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    goose steel

    Not to mention keeping it secret from the animal rights groups.

    I'm not a metallurgist but if nitrates and ammonia help steel there
    is a lot of them in most bird's droppings.

    In this area (very rural northern Pennsylvania) farmers must
    spread chicken manure underground because of it's powerful stench. It can be eye watering.
    Örn Doomslayer a.k.a. Þorfinn , the one we don't let steer, Commander of the Twin Tiers

  16. #16

    Wink Ok..someone has to say it...

    "This amazing blade, lovingly custom forged by skilled German blacksmiths, will go through test cutting materials like cr@p through a..."
    "Don't leave your weapons lying about behind your back in a field; you never know when you may need all of a sudden your spear"- Havamal

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    That's it, I'm going out to the goose hutch right now!
    Oh... did you say he ground the sword into filings *before* he fed it to the goose? oops.
    Last edited by Jake Powning; 03-26-2002 at 08:53 AM.

  18. #18

    Could have been better then than now

    Seems like most of the techniques that made swords superior back then- from folding, hammering, adding things to the fire, damascening, whatever (and those of you who know better feel free to shoot me down here) were basically attempts to improve and make more consistent the metal. The steel they were working with often had insufficient and inconsistent carbon content, lots of impurities, etc. So working it folding it, smashing it around a lot, putting things in the fire, and yes, maybe feeding it to a goose (I had heard this one before, too) would have helped get the carbon and such to where it needs to be, as well as even out the distribution.

    These days that's all mostly unneccessary, though, since most makers are getting nice steel billets or whatever, have good temperature controll when the harden and temper them, etc.
    Freelance hack... and slash... and thrust...

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    Taylor,

    Originally posted by Taylor Ellis


    Oh yeah, anything the German people could come up with has to have something to do with nazis...
    ...even though the naizs were around for less than 1% of the history of the Germanic people, and that societies' weren't much better in the middle ages...

    I have an MA in Medieval history and my focus was Germany. I will be the first to tell you that Germany is not populated by barbarians, racists, hun, or whatever. I spent a semester there in college and have regretted coming home ever since. My heritage is largely German, I have German ancestors who went to Russia with Napolean, and others who immigrated from Prussia because of a mixed-class marriage. Nothing in my original comment justified that coarse categorization of my opinion. Perhaps I should have explained myself.


    Tests conducted by German metallurgists before and during WWII proved not only that the welding of carbon-enriched steel filings improved the cutting ability and compound stability of the weapon, but that the nitrates contained in the bird dung also caused a considerable increase in hardness–which made Mimung a weapon that reportedly was superior even to modern spring steel products.


    Notice the date? In the thirties and forties, (many) german scientists were not exactly the most objective researchers in the world. Combine that with the fact that they were discussing a mythological sword, at the time when all things cultural were being distorted and twisted by the Nazis, and thus the suspicions seem reasonable, to me, anyway. I have no idea what the validity of the scientific claim is - I am not a metallurgist. Bird Poop? Sounds like crap to me.

    The actual technique sounds very, very much like Renaissance alchemy. Has anybody ever read The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz? There's a lot of weirdnesss involving transforming "coarse" matter to "subtle" matter through very strange means. Feeding iron filings to Geese has all the hallmarks of an alchemical process. THere's the passge from very, very dirty, coarse material, the repetitive tedium of the procedure, and the final transformation of the end product. In other words, a symbolic passage from death to life through a physically metaphorical process. At the same time, these same factors make the "technique" seem bogus as actual science. Why whould you *want* to harden the whole sword anyway? It would just make the whole thing brittle. How long would it take to feed 4 pounds of iron to a goose? HOw much would you loose in the process?

    BY the 1940s, this sort of alchemical process *may* have been reinterpreted to make a claim about merely scientific principles.

    The Nazis (and pre-Nazi romantics) are known to have claimed things about German scientific/cultural achievements which simply weren't true, in order to bolster the propaganda about racial superiority. They also claimed credit for inventing Gothic architecture at Cologne cathedral, which is absolutely bogus. Other cultures and governments do this too. Witness Al Gore and the Internet.

    Perhaps I should have laid this argument out earlier to avoid confusion. It's pure speculation at this point, but not unwarranted given the clues we have at our disposal.

    If Gus or one of the other swordsmiths owns a few geese and a sadistic streak, we could settle this.
    Last edited by John M.; 03-26-2002 at 10:07 AM.

    GRAVIOR ABYSSO ACUTIOR CAELO

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    It ranks up there with using human blood as a quenching medium in the "Trust Me, It'll Work" department.

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    Re: Re: Re: Interesting

    Originally posted by Darren Johnson
    Anyways, on a more serious note. I think that sounds very intresting and that maybe someone should try it, not sure how the geese will like it, as someone said But hey..if it makes a sword that can "cut iron like clothes" then i'm game.
    At least they will be getting their vitamins and especially minerals.

    WHo knows? Forging steel from the remains of people who eat Total every day?

    GRAVIOR ABYSSO ACUTIOR CAELO

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    I'm not a metallurgist, but I'd encourage keeping an open mind on this one.

    Here's an explanation of the nitrogen part of the question:

    Steel in Perspective

    I believe phosphorous factors into the equation, as well.
    Sikandur~~Aim Small, Miss Small

  23. #23
    None of which goes very far toward explaining why the steel had to be forged into a sword before being filed down and "processed" the first time. Why not start out by just filing down iron bars?

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    I'm not sure if you're teasing or not here, Marshal.
    Sikandur~~Aim Small, Miss Small

  25. #25
    I remember reading this before...but I can't remember if it was in J. Christoph's "Secret History of the Sword", or perhaps in J. Clements' "Mediaeval Swordsmanship". Anyways, it sounds like a whole truckload of hooey to me...rather like imbueing the sword with certain 'magical' properties that allow it to channel the user's natural energy along the edge towards the tip...

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