Provenancing Egyptian metals: A methodological comment

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

16 Scopus citations


Two recent studies (Kmošek et al., 2018; Rademakers et al., 2018) provide the first comprehensive lead isotope dataset for copper-based artifacts from Protodynastic to Old Kingdom Egypt. These studies constitute important steps forward in our understanding of early Egyptian metallurgy and raw materials procurement strategies. In tandem, it is suggested that these and future studies can benefit from a modular presentation of interpretational insights that takes into account differences in the insights' robustness and susceptibility to change as more data become available. More generally, it is argued that the success of provenance and other archaeometallurgical studies is dependent on proper treatment of the ever-growing analytical data, which requires communal efforts in establishing and maintaining shared databases. Regarding the interpretation of the new analytical data on early Egypt, caution is advised when relying on archaeological evidence of Egyptian activity in mining regions (Eastern Desert and Sinai), as this might obscure other sources, and hinder the discovery of “invisible connections” (cf., Kmošek et al., 2018) – one of the greatest advantages of analytical approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-215
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
StatePublished - Aug 2018


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1880/17


    • Ancient Egypt
    • Archeaometallurgy
    • Copper
    • Lead isotope analysis
    • Mining archaeology
    • Old Kingdom
    • Provenance studies


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