Mario Gavranovic: Bronze Age Metallurgy in the western and central Balkans – metal supply and alloying practices

This lecture will present new data from the “Bronze Age metal-producing societies " research project (FWF, pr. no. P32095). Our investigations confirmed the production of copper in the region of Eastern Serbia in the time between 2000 and 1600 BC and the use of this raw material in regional casting workshops. The picture fundamentally changed during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages as local copper production rapidly ceased. The copper from North Italy (Trentino) entered the Balkans and became a dominant source for thriving Bronze Age metallurgy in the region. This result points to establishment of new exchange networks between Italy and the Balkans, which were not previously assumed. Our project examined several hundred Bronze Age objects using chemical and lead isotope analyses, including slags, ingots and finished products of different typologies and distributions. Regardless of their function or chronology, most objects show a geochemical signature consistent with copper deposits in North Italy. The future investigation will focus on how and when the copper from Italy came to the Balkans and how supply networks for the local workshops developed throughout the 2nd millennium BC.

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