Chromium steel may have first been created in ancient Persia during the 11th century — 1,000 years before it was first made in Sheffield, the Steel City.
Sheffield has a proud history as a northern powerhouse and it is all based on a formidable metal industry, bolstered by its invention of stainless steel in 1913.
Chromium steel is similar to stainless steel, but for the metal to be classified as the latter it must have a chromium content of at least 10.5 per cent.
It was not believed chromium was deliberately added to the steel-making process before Sheffield churned out its first batch of stainless steel in 1913.
But a new study found evidence in modern-day Iran of steel deliberately forged with chromium, at approximately one per cent.
This picture shows slag adhering to the side of a piece of a crucible.
It was found at the site of Chahak, in Fars province, southern Iran. Analysis of this revealed it contained chromium, the first known use of it to make a steel alloy
Although the medieval methods left the metal unable to reach the high standards of today, the addition of chromium would have been substantial, researchers believe.
Just like modern-day stainless steel, where the chromium provides an anti-corrosive layer, the Persian steel would have obtained a protective coat.
Researchers from UCL tracked down the archaeological site where the chromium steel was made with the help of historical manuscripts.
They speak of a once famous steel production centre called Chahak.
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