Firing up the furnace: New insights on metallurgical practices in the Chalcolithic Southern Levant from a recently discovered copper-smelting workshop at Horvat Beter (Israel): New insights on metallurgical practices in the Chalcolithic Southern Levant from a recently discovered copper-smelting workshop at Horvat Beter (Israel)

Dana Ackerfeld, Yael Abadi-Reiss, Omri Yagel, Yehudit Harlavan, Talia Abulafia, Dmitry Yegorov, Erez Ben-Yosef

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent discoveries at Horvat Beter (Beersheva, Israel) shed new light on the earliest phase of Southern Levantine metallurgy (second half of the 5th millennium BCE). Multiple fragments of furnaces, crucibles and slag were excavated, and found to represent an extensive copper smelting workshop located within a distinct quarter of a settlement. Typological and chemical analyses revealed a two-stage technology (furnace-based primary smelting followed by melting/refining in crucibles), and lead isotope analysis indicated that the ore originated exclusively from Wadi Faynan (MBS Formation), more than 100 km away. These observations strengthen previous suggestions that metallurgy in this region started with furnace-based technology (possibly not locally invented). Furthermore, the absence of any artifact related to the contemporary industry of copper-based alloys indicates a high degree of craft specialization, and together with other regional observations testifies to the important role of metallurgy in the society of the Beer-sheba Valley during this formative time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102578
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Volume33
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Archaeometallurgy
  • Copper smelting
  • Wadi Faynan
  • Ghassulian culture
  • Chalcolithic Southern Levant
  • Technological advancement
  • Metallurgical crucibles

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