The history of Damascus steel can be traced all the way back to 500 A.D. where in India it was called Telangana, Wootz or Ukku steel. It then found its way to Damascus, Syria, which was the centre of trade in that region for war equipment such as knives, swords and armour. The name “Damascus” wasn’t adopted until the time of the Crusaders. The Crusaders witnessed Damascus swords slicing through their own lesser quality swords, cutting the sword clean in half in a single swipe without ever losing its edge. The next swipe would do the same to the body of that less fortunate Crusader.
Historians believe that the original method for creating Damascus was the crucible method. The crucible method of production for original ancient Damascus steel gradually declined, ceasing by around 1750, and the process was lost to metal smiths.
Modern Damascus is made from several types of steel and iron slices welded together to form a billet. Whilst not forged the same way as the original Damascus, modern examples do have many of the original characteristics including the beautiful patterns which are immediately recognisable. The patterns are made by the way the blacksmith folds and twists the billets. Today the best Damascus knives are more a work of art than simply a kitchen knife.
A beautiful example of a master forged Japanese Damascus knife we purchased while on a trip to Tokyo