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Slag inclusions in iron objects and the quest for provenance: an experiment and a case study

Blakelock, E; Martinon-Torres, M; Veldhuijzen, HA; Young, T; (2009) Slag inclusions in iron objects and the quest for provenance: an experiment and a case study. J ARCHAEOL SCI , 36 (8) 1745 - 1757. 10.1016/j.jas.2009.03.032.

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Abstract

Slag inclusions are found within most archaeological bloomery iron artefacts and are remainders of slag created during the smelting and smithing processes. Although they are widely believed to provide data with the potential for provenancing iron artefacts, previous slag inclusion studies have mostly proven inconclusive. The main aim of the work reported here is to analyse experimental smelting and smithing assemblages (including ore, furnace lining, fuel and slag), to compare these to slag inclusions in the resulting bloom and worked objects, and then explore the relationships between ore, slag and slag inclusions. This study has revealed that the composition of slag inclusions most closely relates to the smelting slag produced, whereas provenance to a specific ore would be difficult due to the chemical variability derived from furnace lining, fuel and any fluxes used. Some compounds in the slag inclusions are particularly affected during smithing of the artefact, i.e. those present in the sand flux and fuel used. However, trends are observed in the K2O/MgO, MnO/SiO2, Al2O3/SiO2, Al2O3/MgO, Al2O3/K2O and Al2O3/CaO ratios that allow comparison between slag inclusions and smelting slag in these experiments, and may therefore be used during other provenancing attempts. The knowledge gained from the experimental assemblages was subsequently applied to an archaeological case study, examining objects from the 900 Cal BC smithing site of Tel Beth-Shemesh, Israel and the 930 Cal BC smelting site of Tell Hammeh, Jordan. The analyses suggest that none of the artefacts examined derived from the Hammeh smelting system. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Type: Article
Title: Slag inclusions in iron objects and the quest for provenance: an experiment and a case study
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2009.03.032
Keywords: Iron, Slag inclusions, Provenance, Experimental archaeology, Hammeh, Beth-Shemesh
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
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/99622
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