Archaeologists conducting excavations in the Preah Vihear province near Phnom Dek mountain in Cambodia believe to have discovered the first Angkorian-era iron smelter ever to be found intact.
The researchers discovered the footprint and base of the furnace and some of the sidewalls that had collapsed. While evidence of smelting—the process of extracting base metal from its ore— during the Angkorian era has previously been discovered, it’s the first time a furnace has been found.One of the trenches at the site d shows at least six or seven different phases of smelting. According to carbon-dating of the charcoal from the furnace, it was used between the 11th and 12th centuries AD, during the Angkorian empire period. According to the archaeologists the furnace was constructed out of clay, and the iron was smelt inside. In order to extract the metal the walls of the structure had to be broken down. The furnace could be just 1-by-2 meters, and set at a slight angle so that liquefied iron ore could flow out of it. South of the site, classic white Chinese porcelain and distinct brown glaze from the Angkorian period, along with iron objects and sandstones, have also been found. Until now, it was believed that iron smelting was done away from towns or villages, he added.
(after Mitch Hendrickson & The Cambodia Daily)