Institute of Archaeology



Key Debate 3: How was Early Metal Production organised and how did it evolve through time?

Understanding how the early metallurgy was organised and how it evolved represents a significant challenge. There are many widely held but largely untested assumptions. These involve issues such as specialisation, societal complexity and ritual behaviour. This project involves a systematic and interdisciplinary approach using sites and assemblages of a high archaeological and archaeometallurgical resolution which will evaluate the many interpretative models.

Unexpectedly, our results at Belovode suggest the co-existence of two industries, copper smelting and bead making, using minerals of different qualities from different sources (Radivojević et al. 2010). Manganese-rich copper ore was used for smelting, and pure malachite minerals for bead making. Our current research indicates that craft interaction between cold bead processing and high-temperature technology might have stimulated and shaped the emergence of metallurgy. Testing this hypothesis requires integrated field, compositional and provenance investigation on minerals, slags, crucibles and metal artefacts