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The importance of lead in the silver production at Riotinto (Spain)

Anguilano, L; Rehren, THH; Muller, W; Rothenberg, B; (2010) The importance of lead in the silver production at Riotinto (Spain). ArcheoSciences 34 (34) pp. 269-276. 10.4000/archeosciences.2833. Green open access

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Abstract

The site of Corta Lago is located within Rio Tinto mining district, in the Huelva province, in the South-West of Spain. This region is geologically characterised by the presence of the Iberian Pyrite Belt, highly important for the concentration and the subsequent exploitation and production of several metals such as silver, copper, gold and manganese, since the Bronze Age up to few decades ago. This paper focuses on the exploitation of the North Lode of Cerro Salomon and in particular on the stratigraphic section of Corta Lago, spanning between the Phoenician period up to the second century AD, mainly highlighting the Roman period (200 BC-200 AD). The main goal is to distinguish the various slag typologies and reconstruct from them the differences between the silver smelting techniques and their possible reasons. The importance of lead is well known within the cupellation process. However, for the silver production in Rio Tinto, lead has a crucial role already in the first step of the production: the smelting. Lead metal or a lead mineral is added to the first charge in the furnace with jarosite (containing a varying lead concentration), and gangue (quartz plus barite in varying ratios). The isotopic characterisation of the lead involved in the system seems to point to use of lead with different origins, sometimes local and sometimes “foreigner”. This observation is further confirmed by the presence of Roman lead ingots with the stamp “Carthago” (stored at the Rio Tinto Museum). The lead isotope analyses have the aim to identify the possible area of provenance of the lead used for the smelting in Rio Tinto.

Type: Article
Title: The importance of lead in the silver production at Riotinto (Spain)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.4000/archeosciences.2833
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.4000/archeosciences.2833
Language: English
Additional information: Article L.111-1 du Code de la propriété intellectuelle. (2010) The importance of lead in the silver production at Riotinto (Spain). ArcheoSciences 34 (34) pp. 269-276. All rights reserved. The article can be reproduced only if the following are strictly reserved for personal, education or scientific purposes. Non-commercial use is prohibited.
Keywords: Antiquity, lead addition, Rio Tinto, silver production, slag
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/1475940
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