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Ores from the ore washeries in the Lavriotiki

Rehren, T; Vanhove, D; Mussche, H; (2002) Ores from the ore washeries in the Lavriotiki. Metalla , 9 (1) pp. 27-46. Green open access

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Abstract

The Lavriotiki, the south-eastern part of Attika in Greece, is one of humankind's most famous silver mining regions. The most impressive evidence for this activity today are remains of c. 250 ore washeries, installations used to concentrate the ore. These ore washeries comprise by far the best evidence for the beneficiation of ores in Antiquity, most of them dating to the Classical period. The separation of the primary ore into metal-rich concentrate and waste minerals or tailings exploited the density difference between the various mineral constituents of the ore, and was most certainly achieved through a washing activity using running water. The industrial scale of the operation and the vast quantities of water necessary in its conduct required a careful management of water supplies in a semi-arid environment. It is primarily the installations for water management which survived until today, allowing to reconstruct the actual ore washing activities. This paper focuses on the physical remains of the ore as found within the washeries in an attempt to elucidate the mineralogical nature of the primary ore, some operational details of the beneficiation process, and the quality of the concentrate. To this end, published data from a number of excavations in the Lavriotiki is combined with information accumulated over the last few decades during regional field surveys, two dedicated study seasons in 1996 and '97, and analyses of selected samples from several ore washeries. It is demonstrated that the ore was mined in Antiquity as galena, which since then has weathered almost completely to cerussite. The characterisation of the ore samples made it possible to identify two different ore types, with about 1000 and 2000 grams silver per ton of lead, respectively. In addition, the processing of cupellation residue in several of the washeries could be demonstrated. The system of channels, platforms and basins which make up most of the ore washeries is shown to serve exclusively the water management, with the beneficiation activity proper being restricted to a device, probably made of wood and now lost, situated in front of the water tanks.

Type: Article
Title: Ores from the ore washeries in the Lavriotiki
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.bergbaumuseum.de/en/archive-metalla/it...
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: archaeometallurgy, Lavriotiki
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/93647
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