Metallurgical Characterization of a Copper-Alloy Aramaic-Inscribed Object from Tulûl Mas‘ud (Elyakhin)

Dana Ashkenazi, Rafael Y. Lewis, Esther Eshel, Oren Tal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An Aramaic-inscribed object made of copper-alloy was discovered in 1993 in the south-western part of Tulûl Mas‘ud (Moshav Elyakhin) and has recently been studied using an archaeometallurgical approach. Based on visual testing and multifocal light microscopy observation, the object was probably produced in a nearby workshop, with the inscription engraved using a sharp tool during the production process. Given the larger assemblage of inscribed copper-alloy artefacts from the site, this item appears not only to have been used as a cultic object, but was also most probably made for the purpose of cultic offerings. The XRF analysis results of the Aramaic-inscribed object after it was sanded revealed the core metal to have been made of relatively pure copper with a tin content of less than 1.0 wt. % Sn. The choice to produce the object using a low-tin copper-alloy indicates that the alloy was chosen based on technological considerations, in order to facilitate plasticity in fashioning the part into its cylindrical shape. The manufacturing process involved bending the object while it was hot and shaping it into its final form by means of several cycles of forging and annealing. Although the current research has revealed the bulk composition and the general manufacturing process of the object, the microstructure of the core alloy could not be observed because destructive testing was not permitted. Although only a single copper object was analysed, the current archaeometallurgical study allows to gain further information on metallurgical knowledge and manufacturing processes of copper objects in the Persian period Levant.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177–189
StatePublished - 2022


  • Aramaic-inscribed
  • archaeometallurgy
  • copper-alloy
  • manufacturing process
  • non-destructive testing (NDT)
  • Tulûl Mas‘ud (Elyakhin)
  • Persian period


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