Title: Traditional Chinese Technology of Crucible Lead Smelting: A Comprehensive Study Based on Historical Records and Archaeological Findings
Author: Zhou Wenli    
Jounal: Chinese Annals of History of Science and Technology
YEAR: 2021
Vol.: 5
No.: 1
Page: 27–57
Crucible lead smelting, a traditional technology unique to China, refers to the production of lead by reducing lead sulfide with iron metal in crucibles. In recent years, a number of crucible lead production sites of the Liao-Jin-Yuan periods (tenth–fourteenth centuries CE) have been found in northern China, providing opportunities for the study of the technology. This paper provides a comprehensive overview of this technology based on the historical and archaeological evidence, with particular emphasis on the crucibles used. Firstly, it reviews the historical records on crucible lead smelting, and introduces, in detail, the technology used in Gansu during the Qing period (1644–1911) as well as indigenous methods used in the twentieth century; secondly, it summarizes the discoveries of crucible lead smelting sites in recent years, and reconstructs the manufacturing of crucibles and the iron reduction method by analysis of the crucible and slag; finally, it expounds the technical characteristics of crucible lead smelting, and explores the origin and development of the technology.