Metallographic analysis of the recent excavated domestic iron objects from Muyi, Yunnan Province, China


Archaeological evidence shows that the use of iron in Yunnan could be dated to as early as the Warring States Period (fifth to third century BCE). There are large numbers of iron objects excavated from Yunnan, but very limited metallurgical analysis was studied. Iron objects excavated from the Muyi site provide an opportunity to study the iron production technologies in Yunnan during the Han dynasty (202 BCE–220 CE). Three metallographic samples were prepared and analysed. This is the second metallographic analysis of fu-pot and the first analysis of iron stands excavated from Yunnan. It shows that mottled cast iron and decarburized cast iron were used in Yunnan during the Han dynasty, and the results are discussed in relation to other studies of iron objects discovered in Yunnan and elsewhere of China.

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The authors are very grateful to the Yunnan Cultural Relics and Archaeology Institute and the Guangnan Prefectural Museum, who gave us permission to take metallographic samples. Zhang Mengyi thanks the China Scholarship Council (201706240112).


This research was funded by The National Social Science Fund of China (No.15ZDB056) and the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (grant number 2019M653456).

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Correspondence to Yuniu Li.

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Zhang, M., Wan, Y., Li, Y. et al. Metallographic analysis of the recent excavated domestic iron objects from Muyi, Yunnan Province, China. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 12, 144 (2020).

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  • Metallographic study
  • Muyi site
  • Southwest China
  • Han dynasty