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Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12% tin
and often with the addition of other metals (such as aluminium, manganese, nickel
or zinc) and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or
silicon. These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper
alone, or have other useful properties, such as stif
fness, ductility, or machinability.

The archeological period in which bronze was the hardest metal in widespread use is
known as the Bronze Age. The beginning of the Bronze Age in India and western
Eurasia is conventionally dated to the mid-4th millennium BC, and to the early 2nd
millennium BC in China;[1] everywhere it gradually spread across regions. The
Bronze Age was followed by the Iron Age starting from about 1300 BC and
reaching most of Eurasia by about 500 BC, although bronze continued to be much
more widely used than it is in modern times.

Because historical pieces were often made of brasses (copper and zinc) and bronzes
with different compositions, modern museum and scholarly descriptions of older
Houmuwu ding (Chinese: 后母戊鼎;
objects increasingly use the more inclusive term c"opper alloy" instead.[2] pinyin: Hòumǔwù dǐng), the largest
ancient bronze ever found; 1300-
1046 BC; National Museum of China
(Beijing). This ding’s name is based
Contents on the inscription in the bronze
interior wall, which reads Hòumǔwù,
meaning “Queen Mother Wu”
Transition to iron
Technical information
Composition and alloys
Varieties of fitness
Musical instruments
Coins and medals
See also
External links

There are two basic theories as to the origin of the word.

Romance theory

The Romance theory goes with the word bronze (1730–40) was borrowed from French bronze (1511), itself borrowed from Italian
bronzo "bell metal, brass" (13th century) (transcribed inMedieval Latin as bronzium) from either,
bróntion, back-formation from Byzantine Greek brontēsíon (11th century), perhaps fromBrentḗsion ‘Brindisi’,
reputed for its bronze;[3][4] or originally,
in its earliest form fromOld Persian birinj, biranj (‫" )ﺑﺮﻧﺞ‬brass" (modern berenj), piring (‫" )ﭘﺮﻧﮓ‬copper",[5] from which
also came Serbo-Croatian pìrinač "brass",[6] Georgian brinǰao "bronze", Armenian płinj "copper".

Proto-Slavic theory

The Proto-Slavic theory relfects the philological issue, that in the most of Slavonic languages word "bronza" corresponds perfectly to
"war metal" (bron - defensive, za - hot-worked metal; cf. zelé(želě)zo - iron,) while at the early stages of the Bronze working it was
used almost exclusively for military purposes.[7]

The discovery of bronze enabled people to create metal objects which were harder
and more durable than previously possible. Bronze tools, weapons, armor, and
building materials such as decorative tiles were harder and more durable than their
stone and copper ("Chalcolithic") predecessors. Initially, bronze was made out of
copper and arsenic, forming arsenic bronze, or from naturally or artificially mixed
ores of copper and arsenic,[8] with the earliest artifacts so far known coming from
the Iranian plateau in the 5th millennium BC.[9] It was only later that tin was used,
becoming the major non-copper ingredient of bronze in the late 3rd millennium
A hoard of bronze socketed axes
Tin bronze was superior to arsenic bronze in that the alloying process could be more from the Bronze Age found in
modern Germany. This was the top
easily controlled, and the resulting alloy was stronger and easier to cast. Also, unlike
tool of the period, and also seems to
arsenic, metallic tin and fumes from tin refining are not toxic. The earliest tin-alloy
have been used as a store of value.
bronze dates to 4500 BC in a Vinča culture site in Pločnik (Serbia).[11] Other early
examples date to the late 4th millennium BC in Egypt,[12] Susa (Iran) and some
ancient sites in China,Luristan (Iran) and Mesopotamia (Iraq).

Ores of copper and the far rarer tin are not often found together (exceptions include one ancient site in Thailand and one in Iran), so
serious bronze work has always involved trade. Tin sources and trade in ancient times had a major influence on the development of
cultures. In Europe, a major source of tin was the British deposits of ore in Cornwall, which were traded as far as Phoenicia in the
eastern Mediterranean.

In many parts of the world, large hoards of bronze artifacts are found, suggesting that bronze also represented a store of value and an
indicator of social status.In Europe, large hoards of bronze tools, typically socketed axes (illustrated above), are found, which mostly
show no signs of wear. With Chinese ritual bronzes, which are documented in the inscriptions they carry and from other sources, the
case is very clear. These were made in enormousquantities for elite burials, and also used by the living for ritual of

Transition to iron
Though bronze is generally harder than wrought iron, with Vickers hardness of 60–258 vs. 30–80,[13] the Bronze Age gave way to
the Iron Age after a serious disruption of the tin trade: the population migrations of around 1200–1100 BC reduced the shipping of tin
around the Mediterranean and from Britain, limiting supplies and raising prices.[14] As the art of working in iron improved, iron
became cheaper and improved in quality. As cultures advanced from hand-wrought iron to machine-forged iron (typically made with
trip hammers powered by water), blacksmiths learned how to make steel. Steel is stronger than bronze and holds a sharper edge

Bronze was still used during the Iron Age, and has continued in use for many purposes to the modern day

Technical information
Composition and alloys
There are many different bronze alloys, but typically modern bronze is 88% copper
and 12% tin.[16] Alpha bronze consists of the alpha solid solution of tin in copper.
Alpha bronze alloys of 4–5% tin are used to make coins, springs, turbines and
blades. Historical "bronzes" are highly variable in composition, as most
metalworkers probably used whatever scrap was on hand; the metal of the 12th-
century English Gloucester Candlestick is bronze containing a mixture of copper,
zinc, tin, lead, nickel, iron, antimony, arsenic with an unusually large amount of
Bronze bell with a visiblecrystallite
structure. silver – between 22.5% in the base and 5.76% in the pan below the candle. The
proportions of this mixture suggests that the candlestick was made from a hoard of
old coins. The Benin Bronzes are in fact brass, and the Romanesque Baptismal font
at St Bartholomew's Church, Liègeis described as both bronze and brass.

In the Bronze Age, two forms of bronze were commonly used: "classic bronze", about 10% tin, was used in casting; and "mild
bronze", about 6% tin, was hammered from ingots to make sheets. Bladed weapons were mostly cast from classic bronze, while
helmets and armor were hammered from mild bronze.

Commercial bronze (90% copper and 10% zinc) and architectural bronze (57% copper, 3% lead, 40% zinc) are more properly
regarded as brass alloys because they contain zinc as the main alloying ingredient. They are commonly used in architectural

Bismuth bronze is a bronze alloy with a composition of 52% copper, 30% nickel, 12% zinc, 5% lead, and 1% bismuth. It is able to
hold a good polish and so is sometimes used in light reflectors and mirrors.

[20] possibly used by the ancient

Plastic bronze is bronze containing a significant quantity of lead which makes for improved plasticity
Greeks in their ship construction.[21]

Silicon bronze has a composition of Si: 2.80–3.80%, Mn: 0.50–1.30%, Fe: 0.80% max., Zn: 1.50% max., Pb: 0.05% max., Cu:

Other bronze alloys include aluminium bronze, phosphor bronze, manganese bronze, bell metal, arsenical bronze, speculum metal
and cymbal alloys.

Bronzes are typically very ductile alloys, considerably less brittle than cast iron. Typically bronze only oxidizes superficially; once a
copper oxide (eventually becoming copper carbonate) layer is formed, the underlying metal is protected from further corrosion. This
can be seen on statues from the Hellenistic period. However, if copper chlorides are formed, a corrosion-mode called "bronze
disease" will eventually completely destroy it.[23] Copper-based alloys have lower melting points than steel or iron and are more
readily produced from their constituent metals. They are generally about 10 percent denser than steel, although alloys using
aluminium or silicon may be slightly less dense. Bronze is a better conductor of heat and electricity than most steels. The cost of
copper-base alloys is generally higher than that ofsteels but lower than that ofnickel-base alloys.

Copper and its alloys have a huge variety of uses that reflect their versatile physical, mechanical, and chemical properties. Some
common examples are the high electrical conductivity of pure copper, low-friction properties of bearing bronze (bronze which has a
high lead content— 6–8%), resonant qualities of bell bronze (20% tin, 80% copper), and resistance to corrosion by seawater of
several bronze alloys.

The melting point of bronze varies depending on the ratio of the alloy components and is about 950 °C (1,742 °F). Bronze is usually
nonmagnetic, but certain alloys containing iron or nickel may have magnetic properties.
Varieties of fitness
Bronze, or bronze-like alloys and mixtures, were used for coins over a longer period. Bronze
was especially suitable for use in boat and ship fittings prior to the wide employment of
stainless steel owing to its combination of toughness and resistance to salt water corrosion.
Bronze is still commonly used in ship propellers and submer
ged bearings.

In the 20th century, silicon was introduced as the primary alloying element, creating an alloy
with wide application in industry and the major form used in contemporary statuary. Sculptors
may prefer silicon bronze because of the ready availability of silicon bronze brazing rod,
which allows colour-matched repair of defects in castings. Aluminium is also used for the
structural metal aluminium bronze.

It is also widely used for casting bronze sculptures. Many common bronze alloys have the
unusual and very desirable property of expanding slightly just before they set, thus filling in Detail of the relief memorial
the finest details of a mould. Bronze parts are tough and typically used for bearings, clips, to Cyprian Kamil Norwid,
Wawel Cathedral, Kraków,
electrical connectors and springs.
by Czesław Dźwigaj
Bronze also has very low friction against dissimilar metals, making it important for cannons
prior to modern tolerancing, where iron cannonballs would otherwise stick in the
barrel.[24] It is still widely used today for springs, bearings, bushings, automobile
transmission pilot bearings, and similar fittings, and is particularly common in the
bearings of small electric motors. Phosphor bronze is particularly suited to precision-
grade bearings and springs. It is also used in guitar and piano strings.

Unlike steel, bronze struck against a hard surface will not generate sparks, so it
(along with beryllium copper) is used to make hammers, mallets, wrenches and other
durable tools to be used in explosive atmospheres or in the presence of flammable
vapors. Bronze is used to make bronze wool for woodworking applications where Benin Bronzes
steel wool would discolour oak.


Various kinds of bronze are used in many different industrial applications.

Phosphor bronze is used for ships' propellers, musical instruments, and electrical contacts.[25] Bearings are often made of bronze for
its friction properties. It can be filled with oil to make the proprietary Oilite and similar material for bearings. Aluminium bronze is
very hard and wear-resistant, and is used for bearings and machine tool ways.[26]

The Assyrian king Sennacherib (704–681 BC) claims to have been the first to cast monumental bronze statues (of up to 30 tonnes)
using two-part moulds instead of the lost-wax method.

Bronze statues were regarded as the highest form of sculpture in Ancient Greek art, though survivals are few, as bronze was a
valuable material in short supply in the Late Antique and medieval periods. Many of the most famous Greek bronze sculptures are
known through Roman copies in marble, which were more likely to survive.
In India, bronze sculptures from the Kushana (Chausa hoard) and Gupta periods (Brahma
from Mirpur-Khas, Akota Hoard, Sultanganj Buddha) and later periods (Hansi Hoard) have
been found.[28] Indian Hindu artisans from the period of theChola empire in Tamil Nadu used
bronze to create intricate statues via the lost wax casting method with ornate detailing
depicting the deities of Hinduism. The art form survives to this day, with many silpis,
craftsmen, working in the areas ofSwamimalai and Chennai.

In antiquity other cultures also produced works of high art using bronze. For example: in
Africa, the bronze heads of the Kingdom of Benin; in Europe, Grecian bronzes typically of
figures from Greek mythology; in east Asia, Chinese ritual bronzes of the Shang and Zhou
dynasty—more often ceremonial vessels but including some figurine examples. Bronze
sculptures, although known for their longevity, still undergo microbial degradation; such as
The Artemision Bronze
from certain species of yeasts.[29] representing either
Poseidon or Zeus,
Bronze continues into modern times as one of the materials of choice for monumental c. 460 BC, National
statuary. Archaeological Museum,
Athens. This masterpiece of
classical sculpture was
Mirrors found in a sunken ship off
the coast of Cape
Before it became possible to produce glass with acceptably flat surfaces, bronze was a
Artemisium in 1928. The
standard material for mirrors. The reflecting surface was typically made slightly convex so
figure is more than 2 meters
that the whole face could be seen in a small mirror. Bronze was used for this purpose in many in height.
parts of the world, probably based on independent discoveries.

Bronze mirrors survive from the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (2040–1750 BC). In Europe, the Etruscans were making bronze mirrors
in the sixth century BC, and Greek and Roman mirrors followed the same pattern. Although other materials such as speculum metal
had come into use, bronze mirrors were still being made in Japan in the eighteenth century AD.

Musical instruments
Bronze is the preferred metal for bells in the form of a high tin bronze alloy known
colloquially as bell metal, which is about 23% tin.

Nearly all professional cymbals are made from bronze, which gives a desirable
balance of durability and timbre. Several types of bronze are used, commonly B20
bronze, which is roughly 20% tin, 80% copper, with traces of silver, or the tougher
B8 bronze which is made from 8% tin and 92% copper. As the tin content in a bell
or cymbal rises, the timbre drops.[30] Chinese bells:Bianzhong of Marquis
Yi of Zeng, Spring and Autumn
Bronze is also used for the windings of steel and nylon strings of various stringed period (476–221 BC)
instruments such as the double bass, piano, harpsichord, and guitar. Bronze strings
are commonly reserved on pianoforte for the lower pitch tones, as they possess a
superior sustain quality to that of high-tensile steel.

Bronzes of various metallurgical properties are widely used in struck idiophones around the world, notably bells, singing bowls,
gongs, cymbals, and other idiophones from Asia. Examples include Tibetan singing bowls, temple bells of many sizes and shapes,
gongs, Javanese gamelan, and other bronze musical instruments. The earliest bronze archeological finds in Indonesia date from 1–2
BC, including flat plates probably suspended and struck by a wooden or bone mallet.[31][32] Ancient bronze drums from Thailand
and Vietnam date back 2,000 years. Bronze bellsfrom Thailand and Cambodia date back to 3,600 BC.
Some companies are now making saxophones from phosphor bronze (3.5 to 10% tin
and up to 1% phosphorus content).[33] Bell bronze is used to make the tone rings of
many professional model banjos. The tone ring is a heavy (usually 3 lbs.) folded or
arched metal ring attached to a thick wood rim, over which a skin, or most often, a
plastic membrane (or head) is stretched – it is the bell bronze that gives the banjo a
crisp powerful lower register and clear bell-like treble register, especially in
bluegrass music.

Singing bowls from the 16th to 18th

Coins and medals centuries. Annealed bronze
continues to be made in the
Bronze has also been used in coins; most “copper” coins are actually bronze, with Himalayas
about 4 percent tin and 1 percent zinc.[34]

As with coins, bronze has been used in the manufacture of various types of medals for centuries, and are known in contemporary
times for being awarded for third place in sporting competitions and other events. The later usage was in part attributed to the choices
of gold, silver and bronze to represent the first three Ages of Man in Greek mythology: the Golden Age, when men lived among the
gods; the Silver age, where youth lasted a hundred years; and the Bronze Age, the era of heroes, and was first adopted at the 1904
Summer Olympics. At the 1896 event, silver was awarded to winners and bronze to runners-up, while at 1900 other prizes were
given, not medals.

See also
Art object
Bell founding
Bronze and brass ornamental work
Chinese bronze inscriptions
Dezincification Resistant Brass
French Empire mantel clock
List of copper alloys
Seagram Building
UNS C69100
Yoruba art

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External links
Bronze at Curlie
Bronze bells
"Lost Wax, Found Bronze": lost-wax casting explained
"Flash animation of the lost-wax casting process"
. James Peniston Sculpture. Retrieved 2008-11-03.
Viking Bronze – Ancient and Early Medieval bronze casting

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