Bronze Smithing In Forty Days
I decided to set my two-part Noah’s Ark retelling, Forty Days and Forty Nights, during the Early Bronze Age in Anatolia, a region of what is now Turkey. You can read more about the setting in the Author’s Note of Forty Days, but for this blog post, I want to focus on one element of the setting in particular: BRONZE.
As you might guess from the name “Bronze Age,” it’s pretty much impossible to overstate the importance of bronze in this period of history (3300 to 1200 BCE). Bronze is made of copper ore, and it just so happens that my chosen setting, Anatolia, is one of the world’s largest sources of copper…so I decided to make some of my characters bronze smiths. I knew Noah would need a fairly powerful status in his village in order to get the ark made, so I chose to make him the village bronze smith, and then pass the job down to his son—i.e., the father of my main character Neima.
So, what actually is bronze, and how was it made during the second century BCE? First miners collected ore consisting primarily of copper, but with a range of other impurities as well. It looked something like this.
Those small amounts of impurities, including arsenic, tin, zinc, antimony, or nickel, gave the ore a lower melting point and made it easier to melt and cast. Bronze smiths could work with the molten metal and fashion more effective tools more easily than ever before, which led to improvements in pretty much every area of Bronze Age life. Pottery, farm implements, weapons, and more were all made of bronze. This included, of course, carving knives like the one Neima’s father makes for her in Forty Days. (This is a reproduction, not an actual Bronze Age knife!)
While bronze smiths like Noah and his son probably held a powerful position in their villages, there was a downside as well: most early smiths worked with ores containing arsenic, which is, of course, a poison. After breathing in arsenic fumes while working, many smiths would slowly develop symptoms of arsenic poisoning over a period of years. The most obvious effect was nerve damage leading to shaking in the extremities, but symptoms could also be much more severe, including mental confusion and delirium. So how did I use these aspects of bronze smithing in my story? You’ll just have to read Forty Days to find out!
About the Book
Forty Days (Neima’s Ark #1) by Stephanie Parent
Release Date: 02/10/13 | 125 pages
The entire village knows Neima’s grandfather is a madman. For years the old man has prophesied that a great flood is coming, a flood disastrous enough to blot out the entire earth. He’s even built an enormous ark that he claims will allow his family to survive the deluge. But no one believes the ravings of a lunatic…
…until the rain starts. And doesn’t stop. Soon sixteen-year-old Neima finds her entire world transformed, her life and those of the people she loves in peril. Trapped on the ark with her grandfather Noah, the rest of her family, and a noisy, filthy, and hungry assortment of wild animals, will Neima find a way to survive?
With lions, tigers, and bears oh my, elephants and flamingos too, along with rivalries and betrayals, a mysterious stowaway, and perhaps even an unexpected romance, FORTY DAYS is not your grandfather’s Noah’s Ark story.
FORTY DAYS is approximately 45000 words, the length of a shorter novel, and is the first installment in a two-part epic story. It does contain a cliffhanger ending.
Readers looking for a traditional, religiously oriented version of the Noah’s Ark story should be warned that FORTY DAYS may not appeal to them. The novel will, however, appeal to lovers of apocalyptic fiction, historical fiction, and romance, as well as anyone who’s ever dreamed of having a baby elephant as a pet.
Forty Days is on sale this week only for only $.99! Go get your copy!
About the Author
Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major. She moved to Los Angeles because of Francesca Lia Block’s WEETZIE BAT books, which might give you some idea of how much books mean to her. She also loves dogs, books about dogs, and sugary coffee drinks both hot and cold.
(1) e-book of Forty Days and $10 gift card to Amazon (INT)
(3) e-book copies of Forty Days (INT)