A new Ghassulian metallurgical assemblage from Bet Shemesh (Israel) and the earliest leaded copper in the Levant

Erez Ben-Yosef*, Yitzhak Vassal, Edwin C.M. van den Brink, Ron Beeri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A Late Chalcolithic Ghassulian assemblage of metal objects was recently uncovered during a salvage excavation at Bet Shemesh (Israel). Three axes and a mace head fragment from the assemblage were subjected to chemical composition and metallic texture analyses by SEM-EDS. While the axes were found to be composed of pure copper, in agreement with the common observation of “working tools” from this period in the southern Levant, the mace head was found to have a unique composition. In contrast to the common copper arsenic/antimony alloy used for “prestige” objects at this period, the mace head was made of leaded copper with lead concentrations > 70 wt.% (in inclusions). This is the first such object reported from the Chalcolithic Levant. We suggest that similar to the use of arsenic/antimony, the addition of lead was primarily a technological requirement, done in order to facilitate production with the lost wax technique. Furthermore, this leaded copper mace head probably reflects an attempt to continue with production of “prestige” objects at times of shortage in the supply of As/Sb bronzes, and testifies for the important role these artifacts had in Ghassulian societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-504
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Volume9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

Keywords

  • Copper alloys
  • Ghassulian
  • Late Chalcolithic
  • Leaded copper
  • Lost wax

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'A new Ghassulian metallurgical assemblage from Bet Shemesh (Israel) and the earliest leaded copper in the Levant'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this