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Testing the New World: early modern chemistry and mineral prospection at colonial Jamestown, 1607-1610

Veronesi, U; Rehren, T; Straube, B; Martinon-Torres, M; (2019) Testing the New World: early modern chemistry and mineral prospection at colonial Jamestown, 1607-1610. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences , 11 (12) pp. 6851-6864. 10.1007/s12520-019-00945-x. Green open access

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Abstract

The paper presents new research on an assemblage of metallurgical crucibles used in the assay of minerals at colonial Jamestown. The aim of the study is to explore the range of chemical operations carried out at the site of the first permanent British settlement in America, for which little is known in the documents. The results show that the colonists used high-quality Hessian crucibles to perform tests on different types of complex polymetallic sulphides. This was done to (1) prospect for potential silver and copper ores and (2) to find suitable sources of zinc and tin to be alloyed into brass and bronze through cementation with imported copper offcuts. This study makes a relevant contribution to the growing field of the archaeology of early chemistry and mineral prospection as well as the archaeology of early European colonies in the New World. In particular, material culture can shed fresh light on how European settlers reacted to the many challenges of a new and unfamiliar natural environment and how they tried to make sense and exploit it for financial profit.

Type: Article
Title: Testing the New World: early modern chemistry and mineral prospection at colonial Jamestown, 1607-1610
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s12520-019-00945-x
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-019-00945-x
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Science & Technology, Social Sciences, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Physical Sciences, Anthropology, Archaeology, Geosciences, Multidisciplinary, Geology, Archaeometallurgy, Jamestown, Fire assay, Colonial archaeology, Early modern, BRONZE PRODUCTION, MEDIEVAL, PERSPECTIVES, TECHNOLOGY, CRUCIBLES, MULLITE, ASSAY, GLASS, MINT, GOLD
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10087692
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