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High leaded bronze palstaves from Northwestern Iberia: new insights into their technology and metal provenance

AuthorsArmada, Xosé-Lois ; Montero Ruiz, Ignacio ; Arcidiacono, Laura; García Vuelta, Óscar ; González-Rodríguez, Javier M.; Hook, Duncan; Martinón-Torres, Marcos; Rovira, Salvador; Wilkin, Neil
Issue Date19-Jun-2019
Citation5th International Conference Archaeometallurgy in Europe (2019)
AbstractPalstaves are the most abundant metal object in the northwestern Iberian Peninsula during the Late Bronze Age and the transition to the Earliest Iron Age. They usually occur in isolated hoards, while socketed axes are underrepresented in the area in comparison with other regions of the Atlantic Europe. Many of the palstaves contain high quantities of lead and have morphological features (such as the presence of the casting jet) that are incompatible with their use as 'functional' tools or weapons. On the other hand, the phenomenon of large hoards composed of high-leaded and unused (as-cast) axes has parallels in other areas of western Europe (Huth 2000; Roberts et al. 2015). Despite the long research tradition, many questions persist around the functionality, production technology and metal provenance of these artefacts. In this contribution we will present new data on the elemental and isotopic composition of c. 25 leaded palstaves preserved in museums of the Iberian northwest and in the British Museum. The new dataset is complemented by a reassessment of former analyses that are re-evaluated according to the typology of the palstaves. The results show that most of the palstave types documented in northwest Iberia have high-leaded items. The production technology still poses several issues and, although the use of metallic lead is documented, it is also possible that some palstaves were produced using copper-lead ingots cemented with tin ores (cassiterite). Finally, lead isotope analyses suggest that many of these metal resources come from the mining areas of the south of Iberia (Linares, Gádor and Cartagena) and could have reached the northwest of Iberia within the framework of the exchange networks promoted by Phoenician communities. These hypotheses are being tested in an ongoing research project (ATLANTAXES: Mass production and deposition of leaded bronzes in Atlantic Europe during the Late Bronze Age - Iron Age transition. Funding body: Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, HAR2017-84142-R, 2018-2020).
DescriptionResumen del trabajo presentado en el 5th International Conference Archaeometallurgy in Europe, celebrado en Miskolc (Hungría), del 19 al 21 de junio de 2019
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