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Agricola and Zwickau: theory and practice of Renaissance brass production in SE Germany

Martinón-Torres, M; Rehren, T; (2002) Agricola and Zwickau: theory and practice of Renaissance brass production in SE Germany. Historical Metallurgy , 36 (2) pp. 95-111. Green open access

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Abstract

The technology of brass production in the Renaissance has received only little attention so far. This paper concentrates on late 15th-century brass production by studying crucibles recovered in Zwickau (SE Germany). Their scientific analysis by optical microscopy, ED-XRF and SEM-EDX is presented in conjunction with a little known text on brass making written by Agricola in the mid 16th century. As a result, two main crucible types are defined: one big lidded pot used for brass making via cementation, and one smaller triangular vessel used for the melting and casting of the fresh brass produced in the former type. The particular compositional characteristics and slag remains identified in each type of ceramic (big crucibles, lids, and small crucibles) are discussed in the light of their specific function and the diverse technical requirements that they had to meet. All in all, the archaeological picture almost exactly matches Agricola’s account, while it adds further information as to the technical details of the brass making process.

Type: Article
Title: Agricola and Zwickau: theory and practice of Renaissance brass production in SE Germany
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://hist-met.org/hms-shop/product/70-historical...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Germany, historical metallurgy, Renaissance
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
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/93644
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