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Title: Aspects of the earliest copper metallurgy in the northern sub-Alpine area in its cultural setting
Author: Ottaway, Barbara S.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1979
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The earliest copper-based objects in Switzerland, south Germany and Austria are studied in their cultural contexts. The chronological and spatial distribution of the relevant late Neolithic cultures in this area, and all available material evidence are investigated, and their relationships with one another, and with neighbouring cultures, are examined. An early copper-using horizon was found to be followed - after a discontinuity in which the use of copper was less frequent - by a third horizon which used copper intensively. This latter continued, particularly in Switzerland, without a break into the Bronze Age. About one hundred samples of metal objects from Swiss and Austrian museums were analysed, by neutron activation analysis and atomic absorption spectroscopy. Samples of objects previously analysed elsewhere, and international standards, were also analysed to establish comparability of results. In addition, 330 published analyses possibly pertaining to the Late Neolithic period were considered, chosen primarily because the artifacts concerned were of types ocouring in secure Late Neolithic association. The impurity patterns of objects containing less than 2% tin (about 360) and the bronzes were grouped by cluster analysis. Ten main copper, and six bronze, groups emerged, and are discussed in terms of their composition, their archaeological, chronological and geographical significance. One of the three earliest coppers contained significant amounts of arsenic, probably coming from outside the region. By the third horizon there is strong evidence for mining and smelting in the Salzach region. The copper was mostly used in Switzerland, suggesting procurement by Swiss groups or individuals. It is concluded that the introduction of copper into the northern Alpine region was due, not to a single copper-using culture, but to a complex network of multiple contacts. The implications in terms of social structure, independent invention, and possible trade are briefly discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available