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Title: Archaeometric examination of medieval ferruginous smithing slags collected from the sites of Tell Dhiban, Jordan and the Armenian Garden, Jerusalem, Israel
Author: Gethin, Peter Tom
ISNI:       0000 0004 6422 3764
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2016
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Two assemblages of chronologically contemporary medieval iron smithing slags, collected from the southern Levantine archaeological sites of Tell Dhiban and the Armenian Garden, have been studied archaeometrically. There is a paucity of scientifically orientated examinations of smithing slags when compared to smelting slags, and there have been very few previous studies of smithing slags from this geographical region, and none with the particular age range of the specimens from these sites; as such this study provides a first-look investigation of these materials. An extensive collection of both chemical analysis results and microscopic images has been compiled, with the aim of broadening the general body of knowledge with regards to this type of material and providing initial baseline data for these two sites. The results of this investigation have revealed that the slags from these two sites are unusual in terms of both chemical composition and microstructure when compared to the smithing slag classification framework proposed by Serneels and Perret (2003). An alternative analytical method has been evaluated, where chemical compositions are determined as elements rather than simple oxides; this allows the investigation of variations in stoichiometries, which are relevant to redox chemistry and can provide valuable additional information regarding this material. These results can be converted from elements to simple oxides to allow comparison to other studies. A simple and repeatable procedure for the assessment of the bulk chemical composition of slag samples has been proposed and tested, together with a software application for phase proportion determination using backscatter electron images, which is also combined with chemical analyses for individual phase composition determination. The methods trialled during this study have been thoroughly evaluated and compared to other more conventional methods, and a number of recommendations for improvements and for future research have been proposed. All of the smithing slag specimens examined for this study exhibit remarkably similar elemental compositions, microstructures and trends in variability; suggesting that a similar range of iron working practices were being undertaken at both sites. Furthermore both of these assemblages exhibit two different slag compositional types: those with an elevated calcium content, and those predominantly composed of iron oxides. These two slag types are probably related to two differing smithing techniques being practised together, and the high calcium content specimens were likely formed as a result of the use of calcareous fluxes rather than the more commonly observed siliceous fluxes. Additionally, the uniformity and well preserved nature of the smaller specimens were highlighted, revealing their potential as diagnostic materials. This study has characterised the local nature of iron smithing for these two sites during the medieval period, which appears to be markedly different to the methods assumed to be widespread, due to their prevalence in western Europe.
Supervisor: Ponting, M. ; Routledge, B. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral