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Title: Byzantine and Ottoman mineral exploration and smelting in eastern Macedonia, Greece and their implications for regional economies
Author: Nerantzis, Nerantzis X.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2688 9688
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2010
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The study outlined here is an investigation of mining and smelting evidence across eastern Macedonia in northern Greece particularly through the Byzantine (AD 324-1453) and Ottoman (AD 1453-1912) periods. Diverse evidence for mineral exploration and metallurgical extraction in the ancient and medieval past exists throughout this region bounded by the Strymon and Nestos river valleys. Through an integrated approach to survey, site characterization and scientific analysis of metallurgical debris it has been intended to approach issues of interrelatedness between subsistence and production sectors, and address questions relating to Byzantine economy and technological complexity. Documentary evidence from antiquity, late Byzantine Mount Athos charters and Ottoman cadastral registers refer to local, large-scale iron production in the region. Although at present there exists no clear understanding of the chronology for the various production sites, surveys and analytical studies carried out elsewhere have been proven enlightening towards that end. Further, the actual practices represented at these sites remains to be established. Although the mainstay of the metallurgical traditions seems to be iron metallurgy, analyses of slag from sites across Macedonia, particularly high arsenic concentrations, and the occurrence of speiss among the debris, suggested that precious metal extraction could have been an important but peripheral activity. This coupled with documentary evidence allows for the potential of eastern Macedonia to be a minor but significant source of precious metals in the Byzantine world. The current study focuses on the survey and sampling of four smelting sites in the region and scientific analysis by various instrumental techniques undertaken in view to characterizing the metallurgical processes represented in each case. The production sites are characterized by spatial and scalar variation reflecting distinct modes of organizing labour and fluctuations in specialization, intensity and time-length of operations. Analytical data provide an overview of the technical parameters which in turn represent human capacities and choices deeply rooted in social and cultural information. Eventually the dynamics of practice and technical choices for organizing seasonal smelting ventures are being perceived as identity forging incidents among the medieval rural communities of the region.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available