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Iridium to provenance ancient silver

Wood, JR; Charlton, MF; Murillo-Barroso, M; Martinón-Torres, M; (2017) Iridium to provenance ancient silver. Journal of Archaeological Science , 81 pp. 1-12. 10.1016/j.jas.2017.03.002. Green open access

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Abstract

Trace levels of iridium in ancient silver artefacts can provide information on the sources of silver-bearing ores as well as the technologies used to extract silver. A geographically and chronologically disparate legacy dataset, comprised of Near Eastern objects from the Sasanian and Byzantine Empires (1st Millennium AD) and coins circulating around the Mediterranean in the mid-1st Millennium BC, shows that Ag-Au-Ir log-ratio plots can help identify silver derived from the same mining areas, as well as broadly differentiating between the ore types exploited. Combining trace element and lead isotope analyses through the Pb crustal age of the ore, further delimits interpretations on the compositions and locations of silver ore sources. Furthermore, it is shown that silver artefacts of Near Eastern origin have exceptionally high iridium levels, suggesting a unique silver-bearing ore source, potentially in the Taurus mountain range of southern Anatolia. The wide range of crustal ages identified for ancient Greek coins and Near Eastern objects suggest that the addition of exogenous lead as a silver collector during smelting was common practice in the Near East as early as 475BCE. The practice of mixing silver from different sources has also been identified by triangulating the log-ratio subcomposition plots, Pb crustal ages of the ore from which the silver derived and absolute values of trace levels of gold and iridium in silver artefacts.

Type: Article
Title: Iridium to provenance ancient silver
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2017.03.002
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2017.03.002
Language: English
Additional information: © 2017 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: Ancient silver; Provenance; Legacy data; Iridium; Lead isotope analysis; Trace elements; Mixing silver
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > Centre for Languages and Intl Educatn
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/1546523
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