The earliest textual reference for drawplates is only in the 1150’s.
(Or thereabouts) They’re reasonably recent. (Theophilus. On Divers
Arts.) There are a couple of surviving “drawplates” from around
1000AD, but rusty drawplates are indistinguishable from rusty nail
heading plates, which we know they had. So there’s no hard
evidence for them until Theophilus mentions them in On Divers Arts.
The historical technique was to cast a pancake shaped ingot, chisel
it apart in a spiral pattern. (Like a danish) and then unwind that
square wire into one big long strip. Twist it like a candy-cane, and
then hammer it round. Anneal, twist more, hammer more, repeat. For
days… (it certainly must have seemed that way) The initial ingot
was generally in the .25" thick range, so there was a lot of
twisting and forging involved in making thin wire. (Yes, I’m hungry.
Thus my metaphors will be food based until I can go fix a sandwich.)
The Celts did something similar, but instead of hammering it round,
they rolled it between stone plates. (Probably while standing on
them). That’s how they got those double-tapered wires they used in
the wire torcs. (Remember being a child trying to roll play-doh wires
between books or something, on the theory that they’d come out
straighter that way? And yet they always ended up with a thick middle
tapering towards both ends. Same effect, just in metal.)
If you look at micrographs of ancient wire, it all shows the
telltale helical seams, and nobody’s yet found any wire prior to the
second millennium that has the linear scrape marks left by
drawplates. (Or they hadn’t when last I looked at this seriously, a
few years ago.)
Jack Ogden has written a number of useful books on the subject. The
easiest to lay your hands on is “Ancient Jewellery”. If you want to
get serious, try “Jewellery of the Ancient World”. (If you can find
For whatever that all’s worth.