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A novel method to hypothesize the movements of archaeological metal: a case study on the bronze metallurgy in the central Eurasian Steppe Belt by the second millennium BC

Author(s): Mark Pollard ; Peter Bray ; YIU-KANG (Gary) HSU

Year: 2015

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Summary

Traditionally, archaeometallurgists have been focusing on the provenance of metal which assumes a direct linkage between the chemistry of metal ores and metal objects. On the basis of this assumption, they have attempted to reconstruct the flow of raw material across regions/cultures. However, this approach is potentially flawed, since the recycling of metal would alter the initial composition of objects, making the straightforward comparison of metal and ore chemistry problematic.

Rather than associating metal with ores, a new method proposed here treats the chemistry of objects as the records of their life history. The chemical composition encloses the information concerning bronze recycling and recasting, suggesting the possible circulation of metal across space and time. Certain metallic elements, with predictable thermodynamic behavior, may indicate the flow of metal between different bronze-producing societies.

This model is applied to the bronze assemblage in the central Eurasian Steppe Belt between 2200 and 1700 BC, ranging from Siberia to Don River Basin. The chemical results show that the tin-bronze production, possibly from the Altai region, moved westward to the Volga River Basin. On the other hand, major copper resources potentially concentrated on the Minusinsk Basin in the east and Cis-Ural/Volga regions in the west.

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A novel method to hypothesize the movements of archaeological metal: a case study on the bronze metallurgy in the central Eurasian Steppe Belt by the second millennium BC. YIU-KANG (Gary) HSU, Peter Bray, Mark Pollard. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397488)


Keywords


Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America