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by Archaeology Newsroom

Metal Technology and Trade in the Bronze Age

This article refers to metal technology and particularly to its Impact on trade in the Bronze Age. After a theoretical introduction to the evolution of metallurgy and metal, working, it concentrates on the strategic role of metals for the production of weapons and on the necessity of alloying copper with tin. The sources supplying tin are examined as well as: the explosion of sophisticated metalworking techniques during the period of the “Shaft graves phenomenon”, the interest of the central authorities in obtaining metals and producing export-oriented artifacts, and the various mechanisms used in the exchange networks. Then the article focuses on the standard mainly used In the circulation of raw metals, that is the ox-hide-shaped ingots traded in mostly coastal areas of the Central and Eastern Mediterranean, which were also found in abundance in two Bronze Age shipwrecks. Finally, specific information, which has been reinforced by archaeometric investigation, is given as regards the copper and tin ingots discovered in a ship that was sank off the southern coast of Asia Minor, near the present day Uluburun. while sailing from Syrian ports and Cyprus to a Mycenaean destination.