Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The role and development of metallurgy in the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age of Greece
Author: McGeehan Liritzis, Veronica
ISNI:       0000 0000 5251 0759
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1990
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
The main object of this thesis is to reassess critically the nature and development of the earliest metallurgy of the Greek mainland in the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age periods (c. 4800 - c. 1900), both in its technological and socio-economic context. The aims of the research are thus to: 1) show whether or not the LN finds represent the beginnings of autonomous mainland metallurgy or whether they simply represent artefacts imported from contemporary neighbouring cultures involved in metalworking. Diffusionists regard the development of EBA metallurgy as some revolutionary break. Accumulating evidence should put the Greek mainlandindustries more into line with those from the Aegean; 2) show whether the LN industry was ancestral in some way to that of the EBA or if the development of the EBA industry was due to external influence; 3) make some chronological assessment of the initial progress of technological ability as well as the structure and organisation of metallic mineral acquisition. This will further provide data on the degrees of communication between communities and metalworking sites; and, 4) examine the socio-economic context which permitted the development of metallurgy. To achieve these aims it will be necessary to demonstrate the potential availability of copper, tin and other minerals and to show clearly through analytical techniques the range of technical skills known and mastered (especially smelting and alloying). Evidence on the relationship between metalwork, settlement, sources and the role of foreign influence will also be required. The first step was to compile a fully up-to-date catalogue of metal finds and evidence for metalworking. This was done from published material, museum collections in Greece and Britain, tracing artefacts referred to in publications but never fully described and obtaining information on artefacts from recent excavations and finds (until end 1986). This work had the effect of doubling the number of artefacts to come under study and justified taking a fresh look at the state of the industry, the range of types and techniques, and, through them, the evidence for foreign or internal relations. This was a necessary preliminary to the analytical study and the study of the contexts of the metals. No single typological study had been devoted specifically to the LN and EBA material and so one was made, devising at the same time a standard typology and comparing previous classification systems. The typological affinities of the artefacts from every sub-phase of the LN-EBA period were then studied and discussed. This study brought out the range of local types, the continuity of some types from the LN to the EBA and the evidence of foreign influence. The next task was to demonstrate that this large collection of metals could have been produced from local sources, the geological evidence for metallic minerals in Greece was reviewed and a visit was made to one of the richest mineral areas in Greece to assess the types of deposits with which we were dealing. It was demonstrated that the copper, arsenic, gold, silver and lead supplies of the mainland were more than adequate to meet the needs of the local industries in the LN and EBA. Tin was not locally availably and so an extensive review of all possible sources was carried out and two potential supply areas were designated -Yugoslavia and north west Anatolia. The analytical programme presented the chemical and lead-isotope results of over seventy mainland artefacts, attempting to interpret these results for both the technological and chronological information which they could give, formed the main part of the programme. The actual analyses were carried out, in the main, by Dr N H Gale (Oxford). To assist the interpretation of the results a review was made of the metallurgical processes used in the manufacture of copper, arsenical copper, tin bronze, lead, silver and gold. The historical background of the metal technology of the Old World was reviewed, in particular the beginnings of melting, smelting and the origins and development of alloying,in order to provide a reference with which to compare the status of the Greek mainland metallurgical industries. A brief review of the analytical techniques used then led to a full interpretation of the results themselves. The results of the lead-isotope programme demonstrated that several sources were used by both the LN and EBA metallurgies three sources were used in the LN and EBA periods - so there was some continuity of tradition. A new source was identified in the lead-isotope diagrams, though it was not geographically located. This source was used only by mainland communities and, on present evidence, it is highly likely that it is a local source. The chemical results for the mainland artefacts demonstrated that all the main techniques current in the Aegean were known and practiced on the mainland. These include smelting, alloying with arsenic tin and even lead, casting in single and double moulds, cupelling silver from lead and smelting lead as well as working gold. The Greek LN metal industry was not simply an offshoot of the Balkan industries and the EBA industry was in no way backward compared with the other industries of the Aegean. Over 200 chemical results mainly from the EBA Aegean were computed in order to obtain some new information regarding the status of the mainland industry and also to attempt a new approach to provenancing. All the computing work was carried out by Dr M Pollard (Oxford). First of all, the character of the mainland industry was assessed and then it was compared, using various computer techniques, with the industries of the Troad, the Cyclades and Crete. The result was that the mainland industry was basically quite distinct from the other three industries, though it did share several common techniques (or possibly sources) with other areas in the Aegean. Provenancing metals by chemical analyses has had little success in the past and so an attempt was made to utilise the vast bulk of chemical results available for the Aegean by devising a new approach to provenancing, employing the results themselves, lead isotope results (where available), computer cluster dendrograms and typological information, While the approach does not claim to be a general panacea for provenancing problems it did, when applied, offer a few insights into the problem and will become more effective when more lead-isotope data becomes available One of the advantages of the approach is that it provides a much needed check on the lead-isotope technique. A study of the temporal, spatial and socio-economic context of metals and the evidence for metalworking during the LN and EBA periods was quite revealing. The dating of artefacts showed that there were two main periods of increased metallurgical activity -the LN and the EBA II. Metalworking started in northern and southern Greece at roughly the same time, though there is more evidence for metals in northern Greece during the LN and in central and south west Greece during the EBA II and III. The relative distribution of different types of metals demonstrated that copper was always the main metal used, though lead and silver were restricted to southern Greece and gold was found mainly in northern Greece. The distribution of different types showed that weapons were most often found in central Greece, tools in northern Greece and tools and jewellery in southern Greece. Both artefacts and the evidence for metalworking tended always to be located on land routes or close to the sea. Most of the finds come from settlement sites, with grave finds being important only in central Greece.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Bronze Age ; Metallurgy ; History ; Neolithic period ; Greece