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The earliest lead ore processing in Europe. 5th millennium BC finds from Pietrele on the Lower Danube

AuthorsSvend Hansen; Ignacio Montero-Ruiz; Salvador Rovira; Daniel Steiniger; Meda Toras
Issue Date10-Apr-2019
AbstractEleven biconical vessels from the Copper Age sites Pietrele and Blejeşti (Romania) have been investigated using p-XRF. In most cases, traces of lead could be measured on their surfaces. Samples of slag-like material from two vessels and the clay of one vessel were investigated using laboratory methods, namely SEM, XRD, LIA and optical microscopy. The vessels were obviously used as a kind of crucible in which slag-like remains and galena ore were detected. It still remains unclear as to what final product was gained by smelting galena in this way. The amount of these such vessels in the Pietrele settlement, their appearance as grave goods in Pietrele and Vărăști (Romania), and their supposed occurrence in a number of other Copper Age settlements in Romania and Bulgaria show the significance of this phenomenon. It must have been a widespread and more or less well known practice, an important part of cultural habit during a particular period in the Lower Danube region and likely even farther afield. For the first time, extensive experimentation with lead ore can be shown in a clear chronological horizon, ca. 4400–4300 BCE in southeastern Europe.
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