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Title: Reconstruction of Bronze Age copper smelting, experiments based on archaeological evidence from Timna, Israel.
Author: Merkel, John Frederick.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3394 9472
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1982
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Using both simulation and reconstruction experiments, this research investigates the archaeo-rnetallurgical evidence for copper smelting during the Late Bronze/Early Iron Age at Timna, Israel. Historical and ethnographic descriptions of copper smelting are examined in order to suggest how the ancient furnace remains may have been operated. A review of previous copper smelting experiments is presented. Six campaigns of smelting experiments have been completed to evaluate better the major operational variables. The emphasis of this research was the duplication of' the ancient metallurgical products using appropriate materials and techniques. The furnace dimensions were based on the archaeological remains from Timna Site 2. Arrangements of one, two and three tuyeres were tested. Several types of manually operated bellows were compared. Molten slag tapped from the furnace was made to exhibit structures similar to those found at Timna. The copper produced from the smelting experiments contained a high proportion of iron. Refining was necessary to approach the chemical composition and physical appearance of ancient copper specimens. Further experiments were conducted to cast piano-convex, bar and oxhide-shaped copper ingots. In the laboratory, modern materials and analytical methods were gradually replaced for the proposed copper smelting recoristructions. During September 1981, two experimental reconstructioris were conducted under primitive conditions at Timna Site 2. The metallurgical products from the smelting experiments were analysed using emission spectrometry (ICP), x-ray diffraction and visual-light microscopy. Trace element partitioning during copper smelting and refining is further studied. It is concluded that improvements in bellows efficiency allowed increased furnace volumes with greater copper production throughout the Bronze Age. A process-related typology for tapped slags is proposed. Piano-convex copper ingots do not represent primary smelting products, but rather secondary refined aggregates intended for trade.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Archaeology