Technological change in Southwestern Asia: Metallurgical production styles and social values during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age
Committee ChairVandiver, Pamela B.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe beginnings of metallurgical activity have intrigued scholars for decades. In this dissertation, I explore early metallurgical activity on the Iranian Plateau represented by the evidence at Tal-i Iblis in southern Iran, and Seh Gabi and Godin Tepe in central northern Iran. Together, these sites offer a diachronic view of metal production on the Plateau as well as a view of metallurgical activities practiced at different scales of production. The metallurgical materials from Tal-i Iblis are firmly dated to the late 6th to early 5th millennia BCE, and this corpus includes hundreds of crucible fragments excavated from multiple trash dumps. Seh Gabi and Godin Tepe offer a smaller range of production materials from the 4th through 2nd millennia BCE, but they also include a large collection of finished metal objects. These later materials differ in style and process from the Iblis debris.Thorough examination of these artifacts, combined with comparison to a series of carefully controlled casting experiments, has returned numerous significant results. The metallurgy of the Iranian Plateau does not fit the standard model of early metallurgical development. The Iblis crucibles do not reflect an early "experimental" stage in copper production. Rather, these artifacts represent a carefully controlled, production process with a narrow range of variability in both temperature and reducing atmosphere. Further, there is clear evidence for the preference of arsenical-copper alloys at Tal-i Iblis. These ancient craftspeople sought high-quality ores from a source (the Talmessi copper deposit) over 500 km from their production facility.Metallurgical production on the Iranian Plateau is also characterized by the long-term use of crucibles as the primary reaction vessel well into the 2nd millennium BCE. There are some production centers on the Iranian Plateau that see the use of furnaces during the 3rd millennium, but crucible use persists at many sites. At Godin Tepe--a site with significant evidence for contact with the Mesopotamian lowlands--variability in crucible form increases in later periods to include an Egyptian-style crucible during the 2nd millennium BCE. The presence of this crucible suggests that there was contact with foreign metallurgical processes, but the preference for small, portable reaction vessels persisted.
Degree ProgramMaterials Science & Engineering