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Learning metallurgy from the Romans

Dr Javier Orozco Messana | Universitat Politecnia de Valencia

Learning metallurgy from the Romans

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A multidisciplinary team of college and engineering students are confronted with the practical problem of creating and shaping iron and copper alloys for coins and weapons, following the guidance of ancient Rome texts. Students are presented with iron, copper, tin and zinc samples and instructed to follow ancient Roman literature and make sense of the results through optical microscopy and scientific data. The work performed by teams of 4 students is developed as a lab project carried out by a group of College students who help to translate texts with the engineering perspective of first year University students. The result is enthusing since interpreting old literature presents metallurgy from a completely different perspective. The results are impressive since the challenge proves a key motivational thrust, which drives students through a natural learning process where they interpret metallurgy in an attractive, need to know basis.