The Steel Industry in Sri Lanka
In one of the most recent archaeological discoveries, Steel Smelting Furnaces along with samples of steel products belonging to early 200 B.C, were discovered at a village located in Hingurakgoda, while previous discoveries have also been made in Anuradapura, Sigiriya, Ala Kola Weva, Kuratiyaya and Nikavatana.
Historical records found in Syria state that the world's best steel was produced in ‘Sivhala’ (Sri Lanka) using skilled and intricate manufacturing techniques. This steel was also exported to the Middle East and is believed to have been used to produce the legendary Damascus swords.
These ancient furnaces were built in areas where the winds crossed. Natural wind together with manual blowing of wind heated up soil and firewood until temperatures reached between 1100 and 1200 centigrade. After several hours in the furnace, steel would form at the top while waste would end up in the bottom. Later, these pieces of steel were washed in water.
The Sri Lankans managed to make one ton of pure high quality steel out of 2 tons of soil which at the time was considered a remarkable feat.
Archaeologists were able to put in to use one of the furnaces which was found intact in the Samanalawewa area. They used natural monsoon winds to smelt the iron ore and were able to produce steel ingots in the same way they were produced over 2,200 years ago by the ancient engineers of ‘Sivhala’. This proves that these ancient furnaces were not only cleverly constructed using durable raw materials, but were also built to stand the test of time.