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Mass-produced mullite crucibles in medieval Europe: manufacture and material properties

Martinón-Torres, M., Freestone, Ian Charles, Hunt, A. and Rehren, T. 2008. Mass-produced mullite crucibles in medieval Europe: manufacture and material properties. Journal of the American Ceramic Society 91 (6) , pp. 2071-2074. 10.1111/j.1551-2916.2008.02383.x

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Crucibles from the German region of Hesse have been famous since the Middle Ages due to their exceptional quality, regarded by many as a mystery. We analyzed 50 Hessian and non-Hessian archeological crucibles using SEM-EDS, FESEM, and XRD to investigate their technology and material properties. It was revealed that Hessian crucibles were systematically made of kaolinitic clay with a low flux content, mixed with quartz sand, and fired to temperatures in excess of 1300°C. Primary mullite developed in most of the glass matrix, with secondary mullite in some regions of clay–feldspar relict mixtures. Consequently, the vessels showed superior creep and thermal shock resistance, high-temperature strength, and thermal and chemical refractoriness. These crucibles represent the earliest industrial exploitation of mullite in Europe, which explains their historical success.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 1551-2916
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 22:22

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