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Traditions and innovations: versatility of copper and tin bronze making recipes in Iron Age Emporion (L’Escala, Spain)

AuthorsMontes Landa, Julia; Montero Ruiz, Ignacio CSIC ORCID ; Castanyer Masoliver, Pere; Santos Retolaza, Marta; Tremoleda Trilla, Joaquim; Martinón Torres, Marcos
KeywordsIron Age
Issue Date2020
PublisherSpringer Nature
CitationArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences (2020) 12: 124
AbstractEstablished around 575 BC, Emporion was a Greek colonial enclave in north-east Iberia and hence constitutes a good context to study Mediterranean innovations and their adaptation with indigenous technologies. Here, we present an analytical study of the archaeometallurgical assemblage from a workshop context dated to the first occupational moment of Emporion’s Neapolis (second half of the sixth century BC), including slag and technical ceramics. We aimed at reverse engineering the copper and tin bronze metallurgical technologies at the site. The results allow the identification of copper smelting and melting, and a variety of bronze alloying techniques, together with iron smelting and forging. The use of Fe-rich copper ores with BaO, ZnO and PbO impurities is consistent with the exploitation of local sources, preceding the diversification of raw materials documented for later phases. The co-occurrence of co-smelting, cementation and co-melting as bronze making technologies is discussed with reference to parameters of efficiency and cost-effectiveness and contextualised in the broader colonial interaction, providing pointers for future comparative work and discussion. The early use of metallic tin for bronze production at the site supports a Mediterranean origin for this innovation in Iberia.
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