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Search results for: archaeometallurgy

3 Recent Findings of Late Bronze Age Mining and Archaeometallurgy Activities in the Mountain Region of Colchis (Southern Lechkhumi, Georgia)

Authors: Rusudan Chagelishvili, Nino Sulava, Tamar Beridze, Nana Rezesidze, Nikoloz Tatuashvili

Abstract:

The South Caucasus is one of the most important centers of prehistoric metallurgy, known for its Colchian bronze culture. Modern Lechkhumi – historical Mountainous Colchis where the existence of prehistoric metallurgy is confirmed by the discovery of many artifacts is a part of this area. Studies focused on prehistoric smelting sites, related artifacts and ore deposits have been conducted during the last ten years in Lechkhumi. More than 20 prehistoric smelting sites and artifacts associated with metallurgical activities (ore roasting furnaces, slags, crucible, and tuyères fragments) have been identified so far. Within the framework of integrated studies was established that these sites were operating in 13-9 centuries B.C. and used for copper smelting. Palynological studies of slags revealed that chestnut (Castanea sativa) and hornbeam (Carpinus sp.) wood was used as smelting fuel. Geological exploration-analytical studies revealed that copper ore mining, processing and smelting sites were distributed close to each other. Despite recent complex data, the signs of prehistoric mines (trenches) haven’t been found in this part of the study area so far. Since 2018 the archaeological-geological exploration has been focused on the southern part of Lechkhumi and covered the areas of villages Okureshi and Opitara. Several copper smelting sites (Okureshi 1 and 2, Opitara 1), as well as a Colchian Bronze culture settlement, have been identified here. Three mine workings have been found in the narrow gorge of the river Rtkhmelebisgele in the vicinities of the village Opitara. In order to establish a link between the Opitara-Okureshi archaeometallurgical sites, Late Bronze Age settlement and mines, various scientific analytical methods - mineralized rock and slags petrography and atomic absorption spectrophotometry (AAS) analysis have been applied. The careful examination of Opitara mine workings revealed that there is a striking difference between mine #1 on the right bank of the river and mine #2 and #3 on the left bank. The first one has all characteristic features of the Soviet period mine working (e. g. high portal with angular ribs and roof showing signs of blasting). In contrast, mines #2 and #3, which are located very close to each other, have round-shaped portals/entrances, low roofs and fairly smooth ribs and are filled with thick layers of river sediments and collapsed weathered rock mass. A thorough review of the publications related to prehistoric mine workings and revealed some striking similarities between mines #2 and #3 with their worldwide analogs. Apparently, the ore extraction from these mines was conducted by fire-setting applying primitive tools. It was also established that mines are cut in Jurassic mineralized volcanic rocks. Ore minerals (chalcopyrite, pyrite, galena) are related to calcite and quartz veins. The results obtained through the petrochemical and petrography studies of mineralized rock samples from Opitara mines and prehistoric slags are in complete correlation with each other, establishing the direct link between copper mining, and smelting within the study area. This work was supported by the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation of Georgia (grant # FR-19-13022).

Keywords: archaeometallurgy, mountainous Colchis, mining, ore minerals

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2 A Note on Metallurgy at Khanak: An Indus Site in Tosham Mining Area, Haryana

Authors: Ravindra N. Singh, Dheerendra P. Singh

Abstract:

Recent discoveries of Bronze Age artefacts, tin slag, furnaces and crucibles, together with new geological evidence on tin deposits in Tosham area of Bhiwani district in Haryana (India) provide the opportunity to survey the evidence for possible sources of tin and the use of bronze in the Harappan sites of north western India. Earlier, Afghanistan emerged as the most promising eastern source of tin utilized by Indus Civilization copper-smiths. Our excavations conducted at Khanak near Tosham mining area during 2014 and 2016 revealed ample evidence of metallurgical activities as attested by the occurrence of slag, ores and evidences of ashes and fragments of furnaces in addition to the bronze objects. We have conducted petrological, XRD, EDAX, TEM, SEM and metallography on the slag, ores, crucible fragments and bronze objects samples recovered from Khanak excavations. This has given positive indication of mining and metallurgy of poly-mettalic Tin at the site; however, it can only be ascertained after the detailed scientific examination of the materials which is underway. In view of the importance of site, we intend to excavate the site horizontally in future so as to obtain more samples for scientific studies.

Keywords: archaeometallurgy, problem of tin, metallography, indus civilization

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1 The Late Bronze Age Archeometallurgy of Copper in Mountainous Colchis (Lechkhumi), Georgia

Authors: Nino Sulava, Brian Gilmour, Nana Rezesidze, Tamar Beridze, Rusudan Chagelishvili

Abstract:

Studies of ancient metallurgy are a subject of worldwide current interest. Georgia with its famous early metalworking traditions is one of the central parts of in the Caucasus region. The aim of the present study is to introduce the results of archaeometallurgical investigations being undertaken in the mountain region of Colchis, Lechkhumi (the Tsageri Municipality of western Georgia) and establish their place in the existing archaeological context. Lechkhumi (one of the historic provinces of Georgia known from Georgian, Greek, Byzantine and Armenian written sources as Lechkhumi/Skvimnia/Takveri) is the part of the Colchian mountain area. It is one of the important but little known centres of prehistoric metallurgy in the Caucasian region and of Colchian Bronze Age culture. Reconnaissance archaeological expeditions (2011-2015) revealed significant prehistoric metallurgical sites in Lechkhumi. Sites located in the vicinity of Dogurashi Village (Tsageri Municipality) have become the target area for archaeological excavations. During archaeological excavations conducted in 2016-2018 two archaeometallurgical sites – Dogurashi I and Dogurashi II were investigated. As a result of an interdisciplinary (archaeological, geological and geophysical) survey, it has been established that at both prehistoric Dogurashi mountain sites, it was copper that was being smelted and the ore sources are likely to be of local origin. Radiocarbon dating results confirm they were operating between about the 13th and 9th century BC. More recently another similar site has been identified in this area (Dogurashi III), and this is about to undergo detailed investigation. Other prehistoric metallurgical sites are being located and investigated in the Lechkhumi region as well as chance archaeological finds (often in hoards) – copper ingots, metallurgical production debris, slag, fragments of crucibles, tuyeres (air delivery pipes), furnace wall fragments and other related waste debris. Other chance finds being investigated are the many copper, bronze and (some) iron artefacts that have been found over many years. These include copper ingots, copper, bronze and iron artefacts such as tools, jewelry, and decorative items. These show the important but little known or understood the role of Lechkhumi in the late Bronze Age culture of Colchis. It would seem that mining and metallurgical manufacture form part of the local agricultural yearly lifecycle. Colchian ceramics have been found and also evidence for artefact production, small stone mould fragments and encrusted material from the casting of a fylfot (swastika) form of Colchian bronze buckle found in the vicinities of the early settlements of Tskheta and Dekhviri. Excavation and investigation of previously unknown archaeometallurgical sites in Lechkhumi will contribute significantly to the knowledge and understanding of prehistoric Colchian metallurgy in western Georgia (Adjara, Guria, Samegrelo, and Svaneti) and will reveal the importance of this region in the study of ancient metallurgy in Georgia and the Caucasus. Acknowledgment: This work has been supported by the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation (grant FR # 217128).

Keywords: archaeometallurgy, Colchis, copper, Lechkhumi

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