Withstanding the Test of Time: Proofs of the Longevity of Bronze

Metal-working enthusiasts and artisans alike have probably heard from their peers that if they wanted a certain creation to last, bronze is the material to use. This age-old metal has been around as early as the late 4th millennium B.C.E., and has been one of the most vital pillars of civilizations anywhere in the world.

Bronze Bell

Materials like sturdy bronze bars have been touted for their seemingly unparalleled durability. There is an abundance of evidence to prove this characteristic. One such proof is the bronze bell from the ill-fated HMS Erebus, a Royal Navy ship that, along with the HMS Terror, went missing almost 170 years ago while trying to find the fabled Northwest Passage connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Discovered last September 2014 and subsequently recovered a couple of months later, the bell was among the few artifacts from the HMS Erebus wreck that was found perfectly intact after the ship went missing back in 1845—its exact fate never known, until today.

The archaeologists who recovered the bell were astonished at its remarkable preservation, despite its age and the fact that it had been submerged for well over a century; a testament to the sturdiness of the metal. Aside from a few amounts of coral on its surface, the bell remains whole and its distinguishing marks are perfectly legible: a broad arrow symbol representing Royal Navy ownership, and the date 1845 (the year the expedition set sail).

If you think, however, that the Erebus’ bell is already old, think again. Another testament to bronze’s durability is the 2,000-year old “Antikythera Mechanism”, an ancient piece of equipment used to calculate the positions of heavenly bodies (earning it the moniker, “the world’s first computer”). While it no longer works, the mechanism’s collection of 30 bronze gears are still intact in their wooden casing. Discovered back in 1900, the mechanism has since been regarded as probably the most advanced piece of equipment ever made by ancient man.

The durability of bronze stretches far beyond bells and ancient computers, though. Modern preservation techniques aside, various bronze sculptures hundreds and thousands of years old have survived until this day, and are now being adored in museums around the world. Among these is Bronze David by the Renaissance artisan Donatello, made in the 1440s, which looked no less different than the way it did centuries ago.

There are numerous metals that can last, but apparently nothing could match bronze in terms of longevity. So for sculptors and artisans looking to craft a piece that would stand the test of time, durable bronze sheets from suppliers like Rotax Metals are the best materials for the job.

(Source: Bronze Bell from Long-Lost Arctic Shipwreck Revealed, LiveScience.com, November 10, 2014)

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