|A Brief Global History of Metallurgy
The introduction of metals into global history involved a series of stages by which each new innovation brought about the discovery of further advancements in ancient metallurgical technique. Generally, each independent center of metallurgy throughout the ancient world followed these basic stages, with only subtle differences in resource acquisition and availability. Initially, early metals such as gold, silver and copper were acquired in their native state as stones, treated no differently than other raw materials (Forbes, 8). Over time, it was realized that these “stones” had specific properties and could be hammered, tempered, or grinded, thus starting the first true stage of ancient metallurgy (Forbes, 8). The third stage, the heating and reduction of ores and alloys, may have been discovered during pottery manufacture in the Near East, when high temperatures reduced blue copper frit within a pottery furnace to create a glaze (Forbes, 26). This stage was long lived in the Near East, where innovations in weaponry were encouraged as bronze became the stronger, more widely used metal in the region. The final marked stage of metallurgy is the iron stage, the process of hammering, tempering, quenching and annealing iron and iron alloys that required metallurgists a mastery of metallurgical techniques far beyond that of the earlier native ore workers (Forbes, 9).
1964 Studies in Ancient Technology: Volume VIII. By E.J. Brill, Netherlands. Pp. 8-26.
Mesopotamia and The Levant:
It is difficult, even through extensive archaeological and archaeometallurgical study, to pinpoint a specific origin for early metallurgy. It can, however, be stated beyond reasonable doubt that the discovery of metal and its properties was a global phenomenon which developed rapidly through the diffusion of techniques and as an autochthonous discovery in various regions around the world. In the mountainous region spreading from Anatolia eastwards into Afghanistan and Iran, Neolithic peoples utilized native copper as early as 8200 B.C.E. (Ozbal, 2). From this region, technologies developed and were diffused throughout the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia. By 4000 B.C.E., copper smelting was being conducted throughout Palestine and Egypt, methods that had been adopted through trade relationships with the East (Forbes, 19).
2001 Ancient Anatolian Metallurgy. Pp. 1-34 by Boğazi aziçi University, Istanbul.
Asikli Hoyuk (8000-7000 B.C.E.): Native copper artifacts http://www.tayproject.org/TAYages.fm$Retrieve?CagNo=259&html=ages_detail_e.html&layout=web
Cayonu (8000-6200 B.C.E.): Native copper artifacts
Catal Hoyuk (7000-6000 B.C.E.): Slaggy copper material, perhaps first evidence of smelting
Tepe Ghabristan (5500-4000 B.C.E.): Smelted copper, metallurgical technologies
1981 Sialk III and the Pottery Sequence at Tepe Ghabristan: The Coherence of the Cultures of the Central Iranian Plateau. Pp. 141-146 in Iran. V19, by British Institute of Persian Studies.
Tal-I Iblis (5500-4000 B.C.E.): Smelted copper, metallurgical technologies
2004 “Investigations at Tal-i Iblis: Evidence for Copper Smelting During the Chalcolithic Period.” Thesis. MIT. Pp. 1-164
Tepe Yaha (4500 B.C.E.-500 A.D.): Smelted Copper
Nahal Mishmar (4000-3500 B.C.E.): Copper hoard
1988 The Chalcolithic Hoard from Nahal Mishmar, Israel, in Context. Pp. 171-189 in World Archaeology V. 20 No. 2. by Taylor & Francis Ltd.
Kfar Monash (3200-2750 B.C.E.): Copper hoard, tools and weapons
Hestrin, Ruth; Tadmor, Miriam
1963 A Hoard of Tools and Weapons from Kfar Monash. Pp. 265-288 in Israel Exploration Journal V.13 No.4. by the Israel Exploration Society.
Timna (3500 B.C.E.-600 C.E.): Copper mining
1972 Timna: Valley of the Biblical Copper Mines. Thames and Hudson, London. Pp. 1-248.
2006 The Mineral Wealth of Ancient Arabia and Its Use I: Copper Mining and Smelting at Feinan and Timna- Comparison and Evalutation of Techniques, Production, and Strategies. Pp. 1-30 in Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, 17.
Ben-Yosef, E.; Shaar, R.; Tauxe, L.; and Ron, H.
2009 A New Chronological Framework for Iron Age Copper Production at Timna (Israel). Pp. 31-71 in Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 367.
Beth Shemesh (2000-701 B.C.E.): Metal-smithing workshop
Khirbat an-Nahas (1200-500 B.C.E.): Copper production, smelting
Levy, T. E.; Adams, R. B.; Najjar, M.; Hauptmann, A.; Anderson, J. D.; Brandl, B.; Robinson, M. A.; and Higham, T.
2004 Reassesing the Chronology of Biblical Edom: new excavations and 14C dates from Khirbat en-Nahas (Jordan). Pp. 865-879 in Antiquity.
Levy, T. E.; and Najjar, M.
2007 Ancient Metal Production and Social Change in Southern Jordan. Pp. 97-110 in Crossing Jordan: North American Contributions to the Archaeology of Jordan, eds. T. E. Levy; P. M. M. Daviau; R. Younker; and M. Shaer. London: Equinox Publishing.
Khirbet Mana’iyah (900-800 B.C.E.): Copper production, smelting
2012 Environmental Constraints on Ancient Copper Production in the Aravah Valley: Implications of the Newly Discovered Site of Khirbet Mana'iyah in Southern Jordan. Pp. 189-202 in Tel Aviv 39.
The Mediterranean and Europe:
The Aegean experienced the westward movement of metallurgical techniques into Greece around 3000 B.C.E. in the form of arsenical copper, gradually utilizing older metalworking systems to develop new ones with crucibles and moulds, which aided in the manufacture of large quantities of materials (Tylecote, 9). It is also at this time that the first metals seem to have reached Western Europe, the British Isles, and Scandanavia, appearing as grave goods initially imported into the region by the elite (Tylecote, 10) (Wilcox, Chapter 13). A vast majority of European communities had developed their own metallurgical traditions by the beginning of the second millennium B.C.E. (Wilcox, Chapter 14).
1976 A History of Metallurgy. By The Metals Society, London. Pp. 2-182.
2013 Britain and Europe. http://www.archtext.co.uk/index.htm Chap. 13-14.
Chrysokamino, Crete (3650-1700 B.C.E.): Copper workshop
Stos, Zofia; Gale, Noel
2006 Lead Isotope and Chemical Analyses of Slags from Chrysokamino. Pp. 299-319 in Hesperia Supplements, Vol. 36, “The Chrysokamino Metallurgy Workshop and Its
Territory.” By The American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
Sitagroi, Greece (4500 B.C.E.-2900 B.C.E.): Copper metallurgy
Renfew, Colin; Gimbutas, Marija; Elster, Ernestine S.
1986 Excavations at Sitagroi: a Prehistoric Village in Northeast Greece. By the University of California, Los Angeles.
Remedello, Brescia, Italy (3200-2400 B.C.E.): Copper metallurgy
Rudna Glava, Serbia (5000 B.C.E.): Copper mine
Ross Island, Ireland (2500-1900 B.C.E.): Copper mine
O’Brian, William; Brindley, Anna L.
2004 Ross Island: Mining, Metal, and Society in Early Ireland. Pp. 768 by National University of Ireland, Galway.
Egypt and Africa:
Although Egypt and Nubia experienced metallurgical advancements in copper and bronze smelting by 2600 B.C.E., the remaining areas of Africa developed quite differently. Early evidence of copper smelting has been found in Nubia in the form of copper artifacts dating to 4000 B.C.E., but it is likely that these items were smelted and imported from Egypt (Childs and Killick, 319). Copper smelting, and later, bronze casting, were introduced to Nubia during the Old Kingdom period (2686-2181 B.C.E.), which soon developed into a region of skilled artisans, working with copper, bronze, gold, and silver (Childs and Killick, 320). Elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, iron is the first metal to be worked, occurring in the archaeological record around 500 B.C.E. (Childs and Killick, 320). Although some scholars have suggested indigenous invention of iron metallurgy, since sub-Saharan ironworks pre-date Nubian iron, technical objections involving the knowledge of pyrotechnology available without a familiarization with copper smelting principals seem to diminish these propositions (Childs and Killick, 321). Multiple origins for the introduction of iron metallurgy into sub-Saharan Africa are possible, as studies along the Horn and Ethiopia reveal more about trade relationships with the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent (Childs and Killick, 321).
Childs, Terry S.; Killick, David
1993 Indigenous African Metallurgy: Nature and Culture. Pp. 317-337 in Annual Review of Anthropology 22. by Annual Reviews Inc.
Egypt, Nubia, and the Sudan:
Wadi Dara, Eastern Desert, Egypt (5100 B.C.E-3100 B.C.E. and 800 C.E.): Copper mining, Gold mining
Rothenberg, Beno; Hassan, Fekri A.; Shaw, C. Tim; Hussein, Abdel Aziz A.
1998 Reconnaissance survey of ancient mining and metallurgy in the Marsa Alam region Eastern Desert of Egypt. Pp. 4-9 in Institute for Archaeo-Metallurgical Studies 20.
Klemm, Rosemarie; Klemm, Dietrich.
2012 Gold and Gold Mining in Ancient Egypt and Nubia: Geoarchaeology of the Ancient Gold Mining Sites in the Egyptian and Sudanese Eastern Deserts. Pp. 51-57 by Springer.
Maadi, Egypt (4000-3200 B.C.E.): Copper import, copper metalworking
2009 Cairo to Cape: The Spread of Metallurgy Through Eastern and Southern Africa. Pp. 402 in Journal of World Prehistory Vol. 22, No. 4, “Modelling Early Metallurgy II” by Springer.
Agadez, Niger (2000-500 B.C.E.):Copper smelting, Iron smelting
Killick, David; Van der Merwe, Nikolaas; Gordon, Robert B.; and Grebenart, Danilo
1988 Reassessment of the evidence for early metallurgy in Niger, West Africa. Pp. 367-394 in Journal of Archaeological Science: 15.
Igbo-Ukwu, Nigeria (800-1100 C.E.): Copper smelting, Bronze smelting
Childs, Terry S.; Killick, David
1993 Indigenous African Metallurgy: Nature and Culture. Pp. 322 in Annual Review of Anthropology 22. by Annual Reviews Inc.
Akjoujt, Mauritania (850-300 B.C.E., 1970-present): Copper mining, smelting
Bisson, Michael S.; Childs, Terry S.; De Barros, Phillip; and Holl, Augustin F.C.
2000 Ancient African Metallurgy. AltaMira Press, Pp. 10-15.
Childs, Terry S.; Killick, David
1993 Indigenous African Metallurgy: Nature and Culture. Pp. 320 in Annual Review of Anthropology 22. by Annual Reviews Inc.
The Indus Valley and China
Civilizations living within the Indus Valley have considerably early dates for metallurgical activities, which were carried to the region through Southern Iran around 3000 B.C.E. (Tylecote, 11). The Indian Copper Age included the innovation of unique ideas that diverged from early Iranian influences. The Mohenjo-Daro-Harappa civilizations developed three alloys that were used in new axe forms throughout Northern India (Tylecote, 11). Copper artifacts dating from 3000-2300 B.C.E. have been discovered in North-East Thailand, linking the metallurgical technologies of India, to the beginnings of the metal industry in China (Tylecote, 11). True metallurgy did not reach China until around 1500 B.C.E., in the form of copper alloys (Tylecote, 11). The relatively late date of diffusion, via the Anatolian-Iranian area and over the Caucasus, corresponds to the lack of evidence for a true Copper Age in the Far East (Tylecote, 11). The majority of Chinese artifacts, dating to the Shang Dynasty of 1500 B.C.E., are tin-bronze weapons, suggesting that China was among the first countries to utilize copper specifically for the manufacture of bronze implements (Tylecote, 11-26).
Harappa (3000-1500 B.C.E.): Bronze smelting
Sharma, Deo Prakash
2012 Science and Metal Technology of Harappans. By Kaveri Books.
Mohenjo-Daro (3500-1700 B.C.E.):
Desch, C. H.
1931 Analyses of Copper and Bronze Specimens Made for the Sumer Committee of the British Association. In Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Civilization, edited by S. J. Marshall, Pp. 486-488. London, A. Probsthain.
Miller, H. M.-L.
1994 Metal Processing at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro: Information from non-metal remains. In South Asian Archaeology, 1993, edited by A. Parpola and P. Koskikallio, Pp. 497-510. Helsinki, Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.
Ban Chiang (3600 B.C.E.-200 C.E.): Copper metallurgy, Bronze smelting
2008 Dating Early Bronze At Ban Chiang, Thailand. Pp. 91-104 in European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists (EurA SEAA) Bougon Papers: 2006. By the University of Pennsylvania Museum.
Yin, Honan, China (1300-1046 B.C.E.): Copper metallurgy, Bronze smelting
1932 Copper Age in Ancient China. I. Pp. 347-352 in Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Japan:7.
1933 On the Copper Age In Ancient China. II. (On the Transitional Period Between the Copper and Bronze Age In Ancient China.) Pp. 133-136 in Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Japan.
The emergence of metallurgy in the Americas likely occurred independently from the advancements in metal working of the Near East and Mediterranean world. Numerous studies and excavations have been conducted to trace the origins of metallurgy, and its diffusion throughout South, Central, and North America. Gold and copper became the first worked metals of South America, evidenced by the discovery of artifacts in the Andean region of Peru, dating to 2000 B.C.E. (Amzallag, 499). The diffusion of metallurgical techniques was transmitted through a series of ancient Peruvian societies (Chavin, Paracas, Moche) before spreading south into Bolivia and Chile, where there is evidence for smelting dating to the first millennium B.C.E. (Cooke, Abbott & Wolfe, 1659), and to the northwest, into the regions of Central America and West Mexico by way of maritime trade patterns (Hosler, 215). The date of the arrival of metallurgy into Central America has stirred debate centering around 900 C.E. Some researchers currently place techniques earlier, suggesting that linguistic elements in Proto-Mixtecan and Proto-Mayan languages utilize words for metal between 1500 B.C.E. and 500 C.E. (Sorenson, 109). Popular views hold, however, that metals were not being produced in Mesoamerica before at least 800 C.E.
2009 From Metallurgy to Bronze Age Civilizations: The Synthetic Theory. Pp. 497-519 in The American Journal of Archaeology. Vol. 113, No. 4.
Sorenson, John L.
2006 Out of Dust: Steel in Early Metallurgy. Pp. 108-198 in The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. Vol. 15, No. 2.
2013 Mormon’s Codex. Pp. 341-344. By Deseret Book Company.
Wankarani culture, Tiahuanaco, Bolivia (900-700 B.C.E.): Copper metallurgy
Cooke, Colin A.; Abbott, Mark B.; Wolfe, Alexander B.
2008 Metallurgy in South America. Pp. 1658-1662 in Enclycopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. By Springer.
Petersen G., Georg
2010 Mining and Metallurgy in Ancient Peru. Pp. 54. By The Geological Society of America.
Tomatlan, Mexico (A.C. 800-1300): Copper metallurgy
1988 West Mexican Metallurgy: A Technical Chronology. Pp. 191-217 in Journal of Field Archaeology. Vol. 15, No. 2. By Maney Publishing.
Dewan, Leslie; Hosler, Dorthy
2008 Ancient Maritime Trade on Balsa Rafts: An Engineering Analysis. Pp. 19-40 in Journal of Anthropological Research. Vol. 64, No. 1. By the University of New Mexico.
Chavin de Huantar, Peru (900-200 B.C.E.): Gold, copper metallurgy
Bennett, Wendell C.
1944 The North Highlands of Peru: Excavations in the Callejon de Huaylas and at Chavin de Huantar. Pp. 5-114 in Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History,Vol. 39 Part I.
In North America, an abundance of pure copper has been mined by Archaic Lake Superior peoples since as early as 5000 B.C.E. (Peterson, 1). Many of the copper artifacts recovered at sites such as South Fowl Lake, MN and Duck Lake, WI resemble the styles of lithic implements from the same region, presumably because the pure copper of the Lake Superior area required no smelting, and therefore it was only necessary to hammer the material into the desired shape (Hill, 236) (Peterson, 1). The interaction between Archaic North American peoples enabled the transmission of copper to spread over time to far reaching cultural systems such as the Hopewellian of the Ohio Valley (100 B.C.E.-400 C.E.) and the Mississippian (from 900 C.E.), covering an extensive area of the Eastern Woodlands of North America.
Hill, Mark A.
2006 The Duck Lake Site and Implications for Late Archaic Copper Procurement and Production in the Southern Lake Superior Basin. Pp. 213-247 in The Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology.Vol. 31, No. 2.
Peterson, David H.
2013 Manufacturing Copper Tools. http://copperculture.homestead.com/ManufacturingCopperImplements.html
Duck Lake, Michigan (2000-1000 B.C.E.): Copper mining, native copper working
Hill, Mark A.
2006 The Duck Lake Site and Implications for Late Archaic Copper Procurement and Production in the Southern Lake Superior Basin. Pp. 231-247 in The Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology.Vol. 31, No. 2.
Cahokia, Missouri (600-1400 C.E.): native copper-working
Chastain, Matthew L.; Deymier-Black, Alix C.; Kelly, John E.; Brown, James A.; and Dunand, David C.
2011 Metallurgical Analysis of Copper Artifacts from Cahokia. Pp. 1727-1736 in The Journal of Archaeological Science. Vol. 38, Issue 7.