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Copper mining and smelting technology in the northern Lowveld, South Africa, ca. 1000 CE to ca. 1880 CE

Killick, D; Miller, D; Thondhlana, TP; Martinon-Torres, M; (2016) Copper mining and smelting technology in the northern Lowveld, South Africa, ca. 1000 CE to ca. 1880 CE. Journal of Archaeological Science , 75 pp. 10-26. 10.1016/j.jas.2016.08.011. Green open access

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Abstract

We report chemical, petrographic and metallographic studies of copper ores and slags recovered during sporadic surface surveys and excavations over the past fifty years in the Phalaborwa and Murchison Range areas of the northern Lowveld of South Africa. The copper slags around Phalaborwa have unusual mineral assemblages, attributable to the unique geochemistry of the main ore body, the Phalaborwa Complex, where copper minerals were mined from a carbonatite composed of magnetite, calcite and apatite. Strongly reducing conditions had to be avoided to minimise contamination of the copper with iron and phosphorus. As the copper ores contain almost no silicates, silica/alumina flux was added to produce slag. The Precambrian zinc-copper ores of the Murchison Range were also smelted, but during smelting any zinc that was not volatilised was taken up by minerals in the slag, so brass was not produced.

Type: Article
Title: Copper mining and smelting technology in the northern Lowveld, South Africa, ca. 1000 CE to ca. 1880 CE
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2016.08.011
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2016.08.011
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This manuscript version is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivative 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This license allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work for personal and non-commercial use providing author and publisher attribution is clearly stated. Further details about CC BY licenses are available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/. Access may be initially restricted by the publisher.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Social Sciences, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Physical Sciences, Anthropology, Archaeology, Geosciences, Multidisciplinary, Geology, Technology, Archaeometallurgy, Copper, Mining, Smelting, Slag, South Africa, PHALABORWA, WORKING, MINE
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: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1539255
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