How Did They Make Iron in Ancient Times?

Iron is one of the most widely used metals in the world today. It is used in everything from construction to transportation to electronics.

But have you ever wondered how people made iron in ancient times? Well, wonder no more! In this article, we will explore the fascinating history of iron production and how it was done in ancient times.

The Early Days

The first evidence of iron production dates back to around 1200 BCE in what is now modern-day Turkey. At this time, iron was produced using a method called the Hittite process. This process involved heating iron ore in a charcoal fire until it became molten and then hammering it into shape.

The Hittite process was labor-intensive and time-consuming, but it allowed for the production of high-quality iron that was stronger than bronze, which was the dominant metal at the time.

The Iron Age

Over time, new methods for producing iron were developed and refined. One of these methods was the bloomery process, which emerged during the Iron Age (around 800 BCE). This process involved heating iron ore and charcoal in a furnace until it reached a temperature where the iron ore would melt and separate from impurities like rock and slag.

The resulting mass of molten iron was then hammered into shape on an anvil. The bloomery process was more efficient than the Hittite process because it allowed for larger quantities of molten iron to be produced at once.

The Blast Furnace

By the medieval period (around 1100 CE), another method for producing iron had emerged: the blast furnace. This revolutionary new technology allowed for even larger quantities of molten iron to be produced at higher temperatures.

The blast furnace worked by forcing air into a furnace filled with layers of iron ore, charcoal, and limestone. The intense heat generated by this process caused a chemical reaction that separated the iron from the impurities. The resulting molten iron was then drained from the bottom of the furnace and cast into molds.

The blast furnace became the dominant method for producing iron and remained in use until the 19th century when more efficient methods like the Bessemer process were developed.


Iron production has come a long way since its early days in ancient Turkey. From the labor-intensive Hittite process to the more efficient bloomery process to the revolutionary blast furnace, each new method has allowed for greater quantities of higher-quality iron to be produced.

Today, we continue to rely on iron for countless applications, and it all started with our ancestors’ ingenuity and resourcefulness in finding ways to produce this essential metal.