Institute of Archaeology
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First for Archaeology in UK 2015

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Archaeometallurgy I: Mining and Extractive Technology

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The aims of the course are to give students a fundamental understanding of the development and spread of mining and metallurgy within their geological and archaeological contexts from the Neolithic up to the Renaissance. This includes a brief introduction to the concept of metals as a specific class of material, with a considerable diversity in properties among different metals. Based on this, it strives to convey some of the basic chemical and metallurgical processes relevant to the primary production of metal, including the principles of ore reduction, slag formation, alloying and refining. While copper/bronze and iron/steel take centre stage as the most important metals, individual sessions will address the less common metals and alloys. Examples are drawn from Europe, Western Asia and America, and include current research projects carried out at the Institute.

On successful completion of this course students should be acquainted with the general trends of technical and social development in relation to metals. Furthermore, they should have acquired an in-depth understanding of the fundamental physical principles of metallurgy at a level sufficient to undertake guided research in ancient metallurgy, e.g. for their MSc thesis. With a view to being possibly confronted, during later professional practice, with material related to metallurgical activities, students should understand the general outlines of regional and chronological developments in metallurgy. They should recognise relevant evidence such as slags and technical ceramics. In particular, they should be able to pose educated questions leading to a scientific investigation of such remains, and be able to critically evaluate and interpret different types of results and reports following archaeometric studies.

The course is taught by lectures and some hand-on seminars and lab tutorials.

Aims of the course

The aim of the course is to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the development and spread of mining and metallurgy within their geological and archaeological contexts from the Neolithic up to the Renaissance, as well as with the basic skills to identify and study archaeometallurgical remains. This includes a brief introduction to the concept of metals as a specific class of material, with a considerable diversity in properties among different metals. Based on this, it strives to convey some of the basic chemical and metallurgical processes relevant to the primary production of metals, including the principles of ore reduction, slag formation, alloying and refining. While copper/bronze and iron/steel take centre stage as the most important metals, individual sessions will address the less common metals and alloys such lead, silver, zinc, brass and gold. Examples are drawn from Europe, Western Asia and America, and include current research projects carried out at the Institute.

Objectives

On successful completion of this course students should be acquainted with the general trends of technical and social development in relation to metals. Furthermore, they should have acquired an in-depth understanding of the fundamental physical principles of metallurgy at a level sufficient to undertake guided research in ancient metallurgy, e.g. for their MSc thesis. With a view to being possibly confronted, during later professional practice, with material related to metallurgical activities, students should understand the general outlines of regional and chronological developments in metallurgy. They should recognise relevant evidence such as slags and technical ceramics. In particular, they should be able to pose educated questions leading to a scientific investigation of such remains, and be able to critically evaluate and interpret different types of results and reports following archaeometric studies.

Teaching Methods

The course is taught through seminars and lectures. In addition, laboratory sessions will be arranged to give students greater familiarity with the materials, methods and techniques covered in the course. Sessions have weekly recommended readings, which students will be encouraged to have done in advance of the lecture, to be able to follow and actively contribute to the discussion.

  • Code: ARCLG108
  • Credits: 15
  • Coordinator: Marcos Martinón-Torres
  • Prerequisite: This course does not have a prerequisite; however, a basic understanding of inorganic chemistry is helpful.
  • Handbook: open»

For registered students

  • Moodle page: open»
  • Turnitin id: 594934
  • Reading list: open»

Availability: Running in 2014-15


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