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Paint It Black: The Rise of Metallurgy in the Balkans

Radivojević, M; Rehren, T; (2016) Paint It Black: The Rise of Metallurgy in the Balkans. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory , 23 (1) pp. 200-237. 10.1007/s10816-014-9238-3. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper integrates archaeological, material, microstructural and compositional data of c. 7,000 years old metallurgical production evidence with the aim to address the knowledge of the world’s earliest metalworkers. The main focus is placed on copper minerals, ores, slags, slagged sherds and metal droplets coming from four Vinča culture settlements in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina: Belovode, Pločnik, Vinča and Gornja Tuzla, all dated between c. 5400 and 4400 BC. Chemical study of copper minerals throughout all sites points at striking uniformity in selecting black and green minerals from the early days of the settlements’ occupation, some of which predate the metal smelting events. Microstructural examination of metal production debris showed convincing technological similarity throughout c. six centuries of copper making in the studied sites, as well as a consistent choice of black and green ores for metal extraction. We argue that black and green ores were intentionally selected as ingredients for the metal smelting ‘recipe’ in the early stages of Balkan metallurgy based on the knowledge related to their characteristic visual aspects. This finding demonstrates how important the adequate combination of colours was for the early copper metalworkers and suggests a unique technological trajectory for the evolution of metallurgy in this part of the world. It also illustrates the capacity that micro-research carries in addressing the how and why of the emergence of metallurgy, and outlines a methodology for future studies of early metallurgies worldwide.

Type: Article
Title: Paint It Black: The Rise of Metallurgy in the Balkans
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s10816-014-9238-3
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10816-014-9238-3
Language: English
Additional information: The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10816-014-9238-3.
Keywords: Vinča culture, Balkans, Metallurgy, Copper slag, Technology, Colour
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: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1462418
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