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Title: Beyond the crucible : an integrated approach to primary copper production in the Early Bronze Age
Author: Eldridge, Ryan
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2013
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Primary evidence for copper smelting remains vastly underrepresented in the British Bronze Age. The analysis of recovered copper and copper alloy objects has built a database of metal types and isotopic signatures, but has been unable to penetrate the archaeological record to pinpoint the contexts of primary production. This thesis is an exploration of the context of primary copper production in the Early Bronze Age in Britain. The reduction of mineral ore to copper metal may occur within a furnace or crucible, but primary metallurgy is more than a chemical process; it is a social practice that is embedded in the landscape. As such, metallurgy draws together skilled individuals and chosen resources at specific locations and a certain times. Recognizing the spatiality of metallurgical processes opens up new opportunities for archaeological investigation and new ways of addressing longstanding problems in the study of British metallurgy. The methodology discussed within this thesis utilizes a combination of visual, geochemical, and geophysical survey within the hinterland of an identified Early Bronze Age mineral extraction site. The methodology is examined using a case study. Ecton in North Staffordshire has been radiocarbon dated to the Early Bronze Age (Barnatt and Thomas, 1998) and provided a testing ground for the proposed methodology. A nested landscape approach was used to maximise the survey area within the landscape surrounding the Early Bronze Age mines. Stage one involved geochemical survey, which was conducted using portable X-ray Fluorescence (pXRF), and geophysical survey, conducted with a fluxgate gradiometer. Survey results were tested through excavation. The later stages focused on a wider landscape survey and involved desk based research, visual survey, and GIS analyses to situate the mines within the existing Early Bronze Age landscape. The results of this fieldwork contribute to the discussion of Early Bronze Age copper production as a social process embedded within an appropriate landscape.
Supervisor: Doonan, Roger ; Johnston, Bob Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available