Station: [37] Bronze Casting Site (Reconstruction)

Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. If bronze is smelted and then cast, it can be turned into jewellery, tools and weapons. 

What you see here is the reconstruction of a bronze casting site from the Late Bronze Age. Unfortunately, no complete casting site has been excavated to date, so we have assembled finds from all over Central Europe: from Denmark, southern Germany and Switzerland.

First, bronze scraps are filled into a solid clay crucible and smelted on a charcoal fire. A steady, continuous supply of air is needed to ensure the fire achieves the required temperature of more than a thousand degrees Celsius. Discoveries of the appropriate pottery crucibles and nozzles are rare, but do come up regularly. Another pipe with a pottery nozzle is propped against the wall and can supply additional oxygen. Several finds have also included the Y-shaped wooden pipe that’s part of the bellows.

The moulds were mostly made of stone. In southern Germany, that would almost always have been sandstone. But bronze moulds were also coming into use, as you can see in the display case next to the doorway into the house. 

The tools on the right were used to process the raw castings. It’s astonishing that basically, all the metalworking tools still used in forges today are already present.

The block of wood served as an anvil. The inserts are finely decorated miniature anvils called stake anvils, which are needed for the finer shaping. Unlike iron, however, bronze is shaped and hammered when cold. At certain intervals, the piece being worked is heated until it glows. That’s because hammering increases the density of the bronze, so it becomes hard and brittle. It is then gradually cooled until it can be worked again.