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On the Origins of Metallurgy in Europe: Metal Production in the Vinca Culture

Radivojevic, M; (2012) On the Origins of Metallurgy in Europe: Metal Production in the Vinca Culture. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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The beginnings of metallurgy in Eurasia are contentious. The first cast copper objects in this region emerged c. 7000 years ago, and their production has been tentatively linked to centres in the Near East. This assumption, however, was not substantiated by the copper smelting evidence in those centres. The recent discovery of the world’s earliest copper smelting in Belovode, a Vinča culture site in eastern Serbia, dated at c. 5000 BC has changed our understanding on when and where metallurgy possibly first occurred. By extending the known record of copper smelting for more than half a millennium, and occurring at the location remote from the Near East, this evidence challenged the traditional model of a single origin of metallurgy and revived the possibility of multiple, independent inventions. However, the origins of metallurgy have usually been studied in isolation and detached from their technological, social and environmental context, and there has been little research specifically addressing how and why metallurgy evolved. This thesis explores the invention, innovation and cultural transmission of early metal technology within five Vinča culture settlements in the Balkans, using assemblages of high archaeometallurgical resolution. To these, copper mineral use in three Early Neolithic sites was included to explore metallurgy-related practices preceding the earliest record of smelting in the Vinča culture. Microstructural, chemical and provenance analyses of slags, copper minerals, malachite beads and metal artefacts reveal the technology of making and working, and potential sources of mineral exploitation. The interdisciplinary approach demonstrates the presence of an established metallurgical technology within the Vinča culture, which expanded across the 5th millennium BC Balkans, while provenance analysis indicates multiple sourcing for various local copper minerals. The interpretation of metallurgical data contributes significantly to understanding the origins of metallurgy in this part of Eurasia and strengthens the idea of multiple inventions.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: On the Origins of Metallurgy in Europe: Metal Production in the Vinca Culture
Language: English
Additional information: Permission for digitisation not received
Keywords: metallurgy, copper smelting, Vinca culture, Balkans, Chalcolithic, cultural transmission, malachite, tainted ores
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1380193
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