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Copper smelting technology at 2nd millennium BC Taldysai (Kazakhstan) and its place in the wider Eurasian metalmaking framework

Calgaro, I; Radivojević, M; Veronesi, U; Yermolayeva, AS; (2023) Copper smelting technology at 2nd millennium BC Taldysai (Kazakhstan) and its place in the wider Eurasian metalmaking framework. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports , 50 , Article 104043. 10.1016/j.jasrep.2023.104043.

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Abstract

The 2nd millennium BC in the Eurasian Steppe has widely been recognised as the period of exponential surge in circulation of metals, as well as metal exploitation activities across this area. Nevertheless, there is a general paucity of data on metal production in the steppes, which comes in as crucial in the interpretation of the role metalmaking played in the Bronze Age Eurasian Steppe communities. Here we report analyses of a pilot sample of nine smelting slags from the 2nd millennium BC metalmaking workshop of Taldysai in Central Kazakhstan. Our preliminary results identified at least two metal production lines: copper and arsenical copper. Copper metal was obtained by co-smelting copper oxides and sulfides most likely originating from local cuprous sandstone in a single step. Arsenical copper production is exhibited through co-smelting of copper and arsenic-rich ores in two steps, one to remove sulfur, the second to release the iron present in the charge. Compared against a reference database of nine 2nd millennium BC Bronze Age metal production sites across Eurasia, our results suggest that metalsmiths had mastered multiple ways to extract copper-based alloys: by combining raw materials in different recipes, applying diverse pyrotechnological solutions and exploiting a variety of locally and regionally available ores. This perspective allows for postulating local inventiveness at play for copper and copper alloy production in the Bronze Age steppes, and beyond.

Type: Article
Title: Copper smelting technology at 2nd millennium BC Taldysai (Kazakhstan) and its place in the wider Eurasian metalmaking framework
DOI: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2023.104043
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2023.104043
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
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
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10172870
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