Institute of Archaeology

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Frederik Rademakers

Urban metallurgy in the ancient eastern Mediterranean: case studies from New Kingdom Egypt, Iron Age Phrygia and the Late Roman Balkans

My research focuses on urban metallurgy in the Eastern Mediterranean, which I approach through a number of case studies.

As a first case study, I am investigating the metallurgical activity in Qantir – Pi-Ramesse, the capital of Ramses II. This is a well-established context in the Late Bronze Age (13th century BC), where copper metallurgy is taking place in a setting of large scale high-temperature processes, including glass, faience and Egyptian Blue production, under royal control.

My second case study takes me across the Mediterranean, into Late Phrygian/Achaemenid (6th-4th century BC) Gordion. This is again a large urban centre: the capital of the Phrygians and an important trade centre under Persian rule. The specific setting however is different from that of Qantir – Pi-Ramesse, though it is also very well documented as to archaeological context.

The third case study lies further north, in the Balkans, and brings me into the Late Roman period (2nd-5th century AD). Material from urban contexts such as Serdica and Nicopolis ad Istrum, important Roman provincial centres, will be investigated. Evidence here is scarcer, though also well documented, and this case study will serve to illustrate a more common situation in archaeology.

My main research material consists of crucible remains, and to lesser extent also metal remains. I investigate the crucibles using optical microscopy and SEM(-EDS) to reconstruct the technological processes and material use. I also extract metal prills from the crucibles for lead isotope analysis, which will then be compared with lead isotope analysis of metal remains (scrap, ingots and objects).

The metallurgy in urban contexts in general is the main focus of my research. The overarching goal is to gain a better understanding of the technology and organisation of urban metallurgy and the trade networks related to it. However, I also expect to address some site-specific questions, driven by on-going research there. The methodology for studying crucible assemblages as such will be an important topic as well.

Funding organisation

  • European Commission – FP7 Marie Curie Initial Training Network


Educational background

  • BA, Mechanical Engineering, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 2008
  • MA, Geotechnical and Mining Engineering, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 2010
  • BA, Archaeology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 2011

“Ancient urban copper metallurgy in Qantir – Pi-Ramesse”, Frederik Rademakers, Thilo Rehren and Edgar Pusch. Paper presented at International Conference on Copper and Trade in the South Eastern Mediterranean, 5-7 May 2012, Krakow, Poland

“Urban bronze metallurgy in Pi-Ramesse”, Frederik Rademakers, Thilo Rehren and Edgar Pusch. Poster presented at 39th International Symposium on Archaeometry: “50 years of ISA”, 28 May – 1 June 2012, Leuven, Belgium

  • Crucible fragment from Qantir, showing slagged interior surface.
  • High-tin bronze prill, indicative of alloying at Qantir. (BSE SEM image)
  • Slag in Qantir crucible, showing cubic crystals of oxidised copper in a pore to the right and oxidised tin (white) to the left. (BSE SEM image)

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