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Manufacture and use of copper and copper-alloy artefacts in medieval Tuscia

Gaudenzi Asinelli, M; (2016) Manufacture and use of copper and copper-alloy artefacts in medieval Tuscia. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This research seeks to provide a contribution towards our knowledge of copper-alloy artefact manufacture and consumption and its broader socio-economic implications during the Middle Ages in the Italian region of Tuscia (current South Tuscany and North Latium). The sites under investigation are Leopoli-Cencelle and Miranduolo – the first close to Rome, the second close to Siena. These are very similar sites in terms of chronology, incastellamento process, cultural and political influences; moreover, they are both close to relevant mining sites, namely the Tolfa Hills and the Colline Metallifere respectively. However, there are significant differences between these two sites, as they represent the urban/rural dualism that characterised the central Italian Peninsula medieval landscape: Leopoli-Cencelle is a town, while Miranduolo is a castle. The principal aim of the thesis is to shed light on craft skills and trade interests as much as on trends in fashion, social organisation and economics, by investigating non-ferrous metal assemblages, including finished artefacts and fragments as well as metallurgical debris. Everyday life objects, dress accessories, work instruments, and structural and decorative items are studied, along with scrap metal, melted waste and a set of metal debris coming from a bell casting pit. The analytical approach includes pXRF, optical microscopy and SEM-EDS, so as to acquire information on copper-alloy composition and manufacturing process; EPMA and lead isotope analysis (LIA) with inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), so as to identify minor and trace elements patterns and isotopic signatures useful for hypothesise the provenance of metal. Comparisons of the new data with those from regional and extraregional contexts and assemblages are provided, in order to better understand the singularity of each site as well as the nature and scale of possible technological, socio-cultural, economic and political relations between Tuscia and other regions in the period concerned. The results allow some discussion on technological and consumption aspects; as well as on how and to what extent relatively minor contexts such as those investigated would have been permeable to external influences, i.e. to cultural and technological transmission. A special focus is placed on the cultural, political and economic dynamism of major regional towns such as Pisa, and its influence on the sites studied. The research also includes a critical assessment of the potentials and limitations of widescale surface pXRF analyses of archaeological metals combined with limited invasive sampling of selected artefacts, hence providing a methodological protocol that proves to be sensitive to both archaeological questions and conservation needs.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Manufacture and use of copper and copper-alloy artefacts in medieval Tuscia
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Keywords: Copper and copper-alloy artefacts, Archaeometallurgy, Medieval Italy
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1496110
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