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History and overviewEdit
Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. Bronze can be cast, and can be hammered into thin plates also. Used mostly for jewelry and ship's fittings (corrosion-resistant), though armor and weapons can be made from the metal. True bronzes are rare today; the Copper/Zinc alloy Brass being more commonly produced. Alone, Bronze's two components are fairly weak, but when smelted together became a strong, corrosion resistant alloy that was useful in nearly every field of metalworking, from weapons and armor, to tools, to rings and other jewelry.
It is most likely that the first discoverer and user of the copper/tin alloy was Aule who probably passed the technique down to his creations, the Dwarves. The great smithies of the stocky mountain dwellers would have certainly forged armor and various bronze tools and weapons, surpassed in quality only by the Elves and the Valar themselves. However, eventually came the dawn of man; And with him came all of his inventiveness and ability to adopt the creations around him. Soon, the forges and armorers of the Kingdoms of Man also began to adapt and change the dwarven designs, making suitable creations for humans.
Use of the Alloy fell greatly after the fall of Sauron, when many of the great human kingdoms died out, in many cases the old skills and secrets of the past died with their users. In many parts of Middle-Earth, declining reserves of copper caused a heavy spike in the cost of obtaining the metal. Also, the discovery and utilization of Iron and Steel as far easier and cheaper alternatives were the killing blows to the use of Bronze at its past greatness. However, use of the alloy never completely phased out, many of the land's factions and kingdoms still made use of it. Rhûn in the east, for example used Bronze as a primary armor material all the way to at least the end of the Third Age.
Usage in Middle-EarthEdit
Gondor and RohanEdit
In the large kingdom of Gondor, Steel plating and Iron were generally favored over Bronze, though some soldiers were known to wear shirts of Bronze chainmail. The chest, flank and facial armor of most Gondorian Cavalry was forged bronze. The old, Norse like kingdom of Rohan made good use of the Alloy. Small short plates of bronze were worn on and under chainmail and leather armor. the breastplates, helms, and other armor of the Rohirrim and the horse armor of their cavalry was thick bronze. Rohirrum swords and spears and arrowheads were commonly bronze.
The combination of poor ore deposits, even worse craftmanship, and the massive needs of its orcish armies caused bronze to be rare and far flung between. The Volcanic mines were the wrong environment for the formation of usable copper and tin, the massive forges and foundries were designed with quantity, not quality in mind and were woefully incapable of processing and shaping the good metal without completely anniahilating any trace of its individuality. Though the orcish smiths were not minded enough in their craft to create bronze armor of their own, they had no qualms about looting existing pieces and utilizing it (often badly fitting) and many an orc captain wore a battered helm, a dented shield, or a bronze sword, looted from an enemy.
Throughout the ages, at least until the end of Third Age, Rhûnic Kingdoms used bronze as the main metal in their armors and weapons.
- Bronze wikipedia entry