Emergence of monopoly–Copper exchange networks during the Late Bronze Age in the western and central Balkans
Mitrović, Jovan D.
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In this paper we present the first results of an interdisciplinary research project focused on Late Bronze Age metallurgy in the western and central Balkans. The comprehensive chemical and lead isotope analysis, and a strict consideration of archaeological criteria, has provided a deeper insight into supra regional metal exchange networks between the 14th and 9th century BC in this part of Europe. Particularly interesting and surprising are results regarding the provenance of raw materials for copper production, which have a chemical composition and lead isotope ratios that closely correspond to ore deposits in the southern Alps (North Italy). Based on the examination of 57 objects of different functions, chronology and distribution, it becomes apparent that copper from the southern Alps was almost an omnipresent raw material in the territories of the western and central Balkans with only a few finds from North Macedonia to indicate alternative sources. The analyses demonstrate that th...e reuse of fahlore-based copper is attested for the first time in the regions under study. The remarkable fact that other archaeological parameters do not indicate such an intensive connection between the Balkan area and Northern Italy raises a number of questions. The sustained and long-lasting networks of raw material procurement stand in contrast to the expected cultural interaction between metal producing and metal consuming prehistoric societies. The results of this work also highlight the currently underestimated role of the southern Alps as one of the main copper producing areas in Bronze Age Europe, and demonstrate for the first time that the region of western and central Balkans was one of the major recipients.
Keywords:Late Bronze Age / metallurgy / region of western and central Balkans
Source:PLoS One, 2022, 17, 3 March
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