Anvils are required to build forges, either conventional or magma powered. At least one is absolutely required if your fortress intends to do any metalworking whatsoever, including weaponsmithing, armorsmithing, blacksmithing and metal crafting.
Smithing an anvil uses the blacksmithing skill.
Since the only way to make an anvil is with a metalsmith's forge or from a Strange mood, your first anvil must be sourced from outside of your colony, either before embark or by later trading. Anvils require three metal bars to be smithed at a forge - once you have one to begin with. As this is recursive, the origins of the first anvil are hard to discern.*
 Acquiring an Anvil
If your civilization has access to iron ores, a standard (no quality) iron anvil will be included by default in your starting equipment, for a cost of 100 points. If not, then your starting equipment will include a steel anvil, for a cost of 300 points.
If you choose not to bring an anvil, you are refunded the 100 or 300 point cost, to be used for other purchases of items or skills. You will then have to trade for your first anvil with the dwarven (autumn) or human caravans that usually (but not always!) carry one or more iron anvils (at a cost of 100☼), and/or steel anvils. If this fails the first time around, you may also request one from the dwarven liaison, if you are willing to pay an increased price to guarantee that at least one anvil arrives with next year's caravan.
Tearing down a forge retrieves the anvil used to build it, which can then be stored, traded, melted, or re-used to build another forge.
 Anvil Properties
Anvils may normally be made of iron, steel or adamantine. Rarely, dwarves in strange moods will make anvils out of other metals; these anvils (like all metals) are inherently fire-safe, but not necessarily magma-safe. The material used does not seem to affect the performance of the forge, nor does the anvil's quality.
 Anvil Origins?
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The theories are split into two categories:
Correlation does not imply causation: There's another way to make an anvil, and the theoretical time before that occurred is referred to as the era before anvil (BA)
- One theory of the anvil's origin is that a dwarf struck by a strange mood made one of stone or bone (though this isn't actually possible in-game). Another more radical theory put forward by dwarven philosopher Urist McTaggart is that the first one was made of wood in a similar manner. This was deemed a heresy and he was later sentenced to be hammered for being an elf sympathizer by an angry mayor who had a strange fondness for glass.
- Recently unearthed documents seem to indicate that the anvil was the first major tool produced by the earliest dwarven societies. It is generally accepted that humans first created the plow, and oral histories record that the first accomplishment of the elves was the domestication of forest animals.
There are questions regarding the implications of this revelation, however. Skeptics question how the anvil was created without a hammer, how the metal was shaped, and what social, cultural, or environmental pressures could have required the invention of what is, when reduced to its most basic nature, a flat surface used to position objects scheduled to be struck repeatedly.
Dwarven scholars suggest that the first anvils were made of stone, not metal, and were little more than flattened stone blocks, chipped with flint or obsidian. This possibility has sparked an interest among dwarven scholars in attempting to recreate stone anvil replicas, but such enterprises are generally regarded with indifference by dwarven society at large.
- Regardless of dwarven theories some humans believe that there must have been early technologies to produce an anvil without the usage of a hammer or an anvil. While improving the production of anvils through the dissemination and use of anvils over the centuries, the original method was forgotten. Dwarven philosophers argue that dwarven technology has always been driven by perfection from the beginning and nothing was developed over time. Besides, dwarven history never forgets.
Correlation implies causation: An anvil is required to make an anvil
- One researcher posits that all anvils originate from the FirstAnvil. Where does it come from? The FirstAnvil, of course. It's anvils all the way down.
- The dwarven philosopher Urist McStotle has recently suggested that the existence of Anvils is evidence that dwarven civilization will eventually develop a method of visiting (or at the very least, sending anvils to) the past.
- The first anvil was given as a gift from the god of smithing. Engraved with the secrets of mineralogy and metalworking, it taught dwarves everything they know of finding, smelting and shaping metals. There is considerable theological debate going on over WHICH god of smithing was responsible. Some believe that such an outpouring of information could only have been a collaborative effort by all gods of smithing.
- The first anvil is the only remnant of the previous kalpa. Every time Armok the World Eater unmakes the universe, He leaves one anvil behind. The dwarves inevitably find it and use it to make more anvils, one of which is carried over to the next world, completing the cycle.
- It is unknown at this time how Armok's Anvil of Creation was forged. When questioned by a particularly suicidal dwarf on the subject, he grew very grumpy and quickly unmade that universe.