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Title: Early iron production in the Levant : smelting and smithing at early 1st millennium BC Tell Hammeh, Jordan and Tel Beth-Shemesh, Israel
Author: Veldhuijzen, Harald Alexander
ISNI:       0000 0001 3545 4473
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2006
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The use of iron in the Near East is first attested by the sporadic occurrence of iron artefacts during the Bronze Age. By the end of the Late Bronze Age, however, use of iron metal gradually increases to such a level that one can assume a reasonably regular production of iron metal from terrestrial ores by smelting. However, very few iron metallurgical workshops or installations have been discovered in the Near East thus far. Of these, most are apparently related to secondary smithing, and very few if any have clear evidence for iron smelting. Recent fieldwork at Tell Hammeh, Jordan, identified a major iron smelting operation dated to ca. 930 Cal BC. Excavations in 2001 and 2003 at Tel Beth- Shemesh, Israel, uncovered remains of a full-scale smithing operation, dating to ca. 900 Cal BC. Dedicated excavation techniques were developed and refined for both sites, aiming at optimal recovery of both technological and archaeological information. The excavated materials were comprehensively analysed using relevant scientific analytical techniques, which included the development and application of a calibration method for quantitative bulk chemical analysis of iron- rich materials by XRF. Combining laboratory data and fieldwork, this thesis explores the particular lime- rich and iron-oxide-poor nature of the Hammeh slags as a function of the composition of the local ore and the sacrificial contribution of technical ceramics (tuyeres and furnace wall). Furthermore, it compares the smelting operations at Tell Hammeh with the smithing at Tel Beth-Shemesh, both in terms of their respective archaeological contexts as well as of their technological residues. This aims at the identification and reconstruction of the chaine operatoire of the technologies at both sites. The reconstructed technological processes are discussed in terms of their place in the socio-economic and cultural context of the early first millennium BC of the Levant. Beyond providing new data about early iron metallurgy, the integrated archaeological and laboratory approach, the excavation methods applied, the analytical methodology, as well as the archaeometric data presented here may serve as a model for the excavation, interpretation, or comparison of future (and previous) discoveries of iron metallurgy in the Near East.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available