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The production of speiss (iron arsenide) during the Early Bronze Age in Iran

Thornton, CP; Rehren, T; Pigott, VC; (2008) The production of speiss (iron arsenide) during the Early Bronze Age in Iran. Journal of Archaeological Science , 36 (2) 308 - 316. 10.1016/j.jas.2008.09.017.

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Abstract

In this paper, analyses of some unusual slag samples from the prehistoric site of Tepe Hissar in north-eastern Iran are presented. These slags are the remains of a five-thousand-year-old pyrotechnological process that produced speiss, a quasi-metallic material usually formed as an accidental by-product of copper or lead smelting. We argue that the "speiss slags" from Tepe Hissar suggest the intentional production of iron-arsenic alloy ("speiss") in prehistory. Why the Tepe Hissar metalworkers produced speiss is a question that requires further investigation, but our preliminary assessment suggests that it was to provide arsenic as an alloying component for arsenical copper, the preferred copper alloy during much of the Early Bronze Age in Iran. and widely used across the ancient world. This recognition significantly advances our understanding of the early stages of metallurgy in the Old World. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Type: Article
Title: The production of speiss (iron arsenide) during the Early Bronze Age in Iran
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2008.09.017
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2008.09.017
Language: English
Keywords: Metallurgy, Early Bronze Age, Speiss, Iron, Arsenic, Tepe Hissar, Iran
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/93676
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