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Ancient Technology




Evolution of Technology in Ancient Anatolia Turkey (Tűrkiye)

Bronze Age Metal Technology in Ancient Anatolia-Turkey

Copper and Copper Alloys

The earliest objects were made of native copper which is not very common but occurs in small quantities in certain region. Native relatively pure copper is a soft malleable material which can be worked by cold hammering to form small objects. Although easy to work, its versatility is limited. Hammering up to a point increases its strength, but too much hammering can cause deformation of the crystalline structure of the metal, resulting in the object becoming brittle and cracking. Annealing, i.e. heating up to a temperature of c. 400 C below melting point, causes re-crystallization and reduces the possibility of cracking.

The oxides are also the easiest to work. The sulphides are less accessible and more difficult to work but they constitute the major copper deposits in Anatolia.

There is evidence for the use of copper during Neolithic. Excavations at Cayonu have unearthed objects made of native copper. Some experts believe that the practice of annealing was used as early as Neolithic times.

The chalcholithic period, literally the copper-stone age, is so named because copper quite commonly used for artefacts, alongside the stone which had dominated the industries of preceding periods. During the chalcholithic, however, technology relied increasingly on metals and less on stone and obsidian for tools. Objects made from native and pure copper and copper alloys were produces, and the technique of casting was learned. Metal artefacts from Canhasan include copper jewellery and a mace head made of almost pure copper with shaft-hole casting.

The versatility of copper and the durability of copper with some other metal and heating to produce an alloy. The most efficient man-made copper alloy was a combination of copper and tin, resulting in bronze. Analysis of bronze objects from Alacahoyuk reveals proportions which indicate production of bronze containing a percentage of tin ranging from 9% to 17%.

In all regions of Anatolia the majority of artefacts of a late chalcholithic date were made of unalloyed copper. Some were also made of arsenical coppers with a low arsenic content. Natural arsenical copper is found in many regions of Anatolia and has similar properties to tin-bronzes. Although tin is rare, there was not such a huge demand for it during the first centuries of the Bronze Age, and the local supplies were perhaps equal to the relatively limited demand. Pure tin was sometimes used for soldering, but it is not very suitable as a material in its own right as it has a tendency to crack.


Before the smelting process begins, some of the unwanted particles in copper and other ores can be removed by crushing the crude ore into smaller pieces and washing, after which the ore must be dried. A flux, the most suitable of which was iron oxide, combines with unwanted material in the ore, facilitating the formation of slag and, thus, the separation process. The understanding of the importance of fluxes in the smelting process shows the levels to which metallurgical technology had advanced in the Bronze Age. For smelting they used furnaces, since they know that concentrated heat in a closed space would produce higher temperatures and that it was necessary to supply a draft, and it was probably a small step to modify this idea for the purpose of smelting metals. The earliest smelting furnaces discovered are of a Late chalcholithic date.

Smelting furnaces have also been found at some settlements. At Norsuntepe, a site which is now under the waters of Keban dam, smelting furnaces, copper ore, slag, fragments of clay crucibles or molds, and finished metal artefacts have been found inside and in the courtyards of a group of buildings which seems to represent a quarter of the settlement inhabited by metal workers.

Other Metals


Vessels made of gold and silver appear at the beginning of the Bronze Age. In order to process gold, the placer deposits have first to be separated from the gravel and sand by panning, after which the metal is refined by eliminating the Cu and base metals, producing a gold-silver alloy. This was probably achieved sing the process of cupellation. Experiments have indicated that it was employed from the 7th century BC at Sardis. It has been suggested that similar techniques of gold refining were used perhaps as early as the late 3rd millennium BC, but this is not absolutely certain.


Silver can be removed from lead ores by repeated cupellation, thereby oxidizing the lead. There is evidence from Beycesultan to suggest the cupellation may have been practiced to produce silver during the Late chalcholithic.

Artefacts made of gold-silver alloy, or of either gold or silver alloyed with an amount of copper, were fairly common.


There is evidence for the smelting of lead during the Chalcholithic period. One of the earliest lead artefacts was fond at Catalhoyuk, dating to the mid 7th millennium BC. Lead was often a component of a ternary alloy of copper, tin and lead, probably because it improved the fluidity of the bronze casting.


A small number of iron objects have been fond in contexts of a pre-3000 BC date. In the 3rd millennium their occurrence increases, but finds are still sporadic. Weapons and tools were made from iron for ritual of ceremonial purposes, decorative items such as jewellery were made either from iron only or iron and some other precious material.

There appear to have been less artefacts made from iron in the Middle than in the Early Bronze Age, but from at least as early as the 2nd millennium BC the number increases.

Iron was more difficult to process successfully than most other metals. Smelted iron cold be worked to a certain extent by repeated hammering and annealing. At Alacahoyuk, both the artefacts made from smelted iron and meteoric iron ore found, but it is not certain whether early smelted iron objects were smelted deliberately or accidentally.

The Production of Metal Vessels

After smelting, copper and copper alloys emerge in rough ingot form. The metal might then be further refined by re-heating, then cast in a prepared mold. These molds were open molds and two sided molds. Another method was spinning, which involved the cast metal being secured in a lathe and hammered from the outside whilst it rotated. During the hammering process, periodic annealing would be necessary. Vessels made in more than one piece required joining, but it is often difficult to determine how the joining of the two parts had been accomplished, as the joins were usually intentionally masked for aesthetic reasons. There were a number of possible methods of joining, including sweating, casting on and soldering. Sweating is the heating and hammering of the two ends or edges which required joining. Casting on involves using a molten form of the same metal as the vessel itself. Soldering requires the use of a metal or alloy with a melting point below that of the metal from which the vessel was made; lead and/or tin was used because of the low melting points. Hammering was also used for joining in the Early Bronze Age vessels.

Technological Style in Early Bronze Age Anatolia

Ceramic crucibles, which were fundamental to the technology of tin smelting in Early Bronze Age Anatolia, are essentially thick walled open vessels able to withstand heating at very high temperatures. The manufacturers of these crucibles obviously had some knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of using the different types of temper.

Anatolian metallic ware is a very hard, handmade, quartz-tempered fabric fired at very high temperatures comparable to those reached in the process of tin smelting, i.e. 1100C. There may be a positive correlation between development of higher fired wares and high firing temperatures used by metal smiths.

In most cases, metal smith need to crash and grind his materials to reduce them to a powdery state and then remove the impurities by vanning. Some of the metal smith's techniques were used in the production of the hard-fired metallic ware. A more concrete example is the paddle and anvil used for beating or hammering, a technique shared by both potters and smiths alike (Trachsler 1965). This beating can be used to smooth the seams and surfaces of vessels made of metal.

It is no coincidence that Anatolian metallic ware is found in the Taurus mountains, an area rich in metal resources: silver, gold, copper, tin and iron. Moreover, a study of the central Taurus region revealed tunnel and pit mines, which on the evidence of pottery and radiocarbon dates, have been dated to the Early Bronze Age. Ore processing tools, crucible fragments and slag have found on various sites throughout the region. Furthermore, the tin mines at Kestel near Goltepe show clear evidence of being worked during the Early Bronze Age (Yener et al. 1991; Yener and Vandier, 1993).

Yener et al. (1991) have analyzed samples of ore and slag from ancient mining sites in the Central Taurus range for stable lead isotope ratios (Sayre et. al. 1992). The isotopic signatures of the slag match the signatures of the ores from the local mines indicating that the metals found in the slag did indeed originate in the Central Taurus. The authors then followed up this analysis with samples of chalcholithic and Early Bronze Age metal artefacts from south-western Asia to see if the isotope ratios of any of those metals matched the ores and slag from the central Taurus. They found over fifty artefacts with isotope ratios that are consistent with one of the known Taurus ore fields (Yener et. al. 1991). These metal artefacts included samples from Tarsus, Mersin, Tell al-Judaidah, Hassek Hoyuk and Acemhöyuk. The lead isotope ratios of these artefacts all point to an origin in the central Taurus region. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the central Taurus mountains supplied Cilicia and the Konya plain with such valuable metals as silver, gold, copper, iron and tin. Anatolian metallic ware has been found at Goltepe, Tarsus, Mersin, Acemhöyuk and across the Konya plain.

Emre (1966) suggests that the technique of slipping and polishing gives a gloss of copper to the terra-cotta vessels. It is possible that metallic ware retained some of the formal characteristics of metal vessels such as shape, sheen, and decoration but was simply made of cheaper material. Schneider (1989) suggests that the development of the hard-fired stone ware or Syrian metallic ware is related to the competition with metal and that it was not only the wish to make a denser and harder pottery but also to imitate a metallic appearance by producing gray to red colours, thus making pots look like used copper jars.

The Anatolian metallic ware under discussion has certain basic characteristics. It is handmade, tempered with fine quartz sand, ad fired at a very high temperature. It is hard, thin, breaks along a straight fracture and makes a high pitched clinky sound when struck, its colour varies from buff to orange to brown. The vessels are usually slipped in a shade very near the colour of the clay itself before firing or washed after firing. Some examples are slightly burnished, the most common forms of metallic ware are jugs with cylindrical necks, jugs with funnel necks and pitchers with rising spouts, some bowls and cups are also made of metallic ware. The metallic ware from Goltepe is either plain or painted with a purplish-red or purplish-brown. The most common painted designs are simple bands around the rim, a row of dots at the base of the neck, and wavy vertical lines. The jug with the cylindrical neck often has two opposing vertical handles set between the rim and the shoulder of the vessel. The pitcher with the rising spout usually has a single handle set between the rim and the base of the neck. Many handles have marks clearly inscribed on them, lugs are often found opposite the larger handles just beneath the rim of the spout and sometimes on the shoulder. Because lug-shaped handles are attached both vertically and horizontally, Ozten (1989) declares them not to be functional. This conclusion remains open to further investigation.

In Anatolia, the most common form of a metallic ware is the painted jugs which are found in and around the Taurus mountains, in Cilicia and across the Konya plain. the distribution of this particular variety of metallic ware demonstrates that Anatolian metallic ware is common to the Taurus mountains and neighbouring regions and in some places overlaps with Syrian metallic ware.

The Taurus publication (Goldman 1956) depicts a number of vessels and shreds that look remarkably like the metallic ware from Mersin and Goltepe: a jug with a cylindrical neck, a pitcher with rising spout, and a various painted shreds. All of these pieces are described by Mellink (in Goldman 1956) as "light clay miniature lug ware," which is a thin, hard, well-fired buff-yellowish ware tempered with sand which gives it a gritty feel. The ware is uniform in section, implying that it is well-levigated. This particular variety of metallic ware is distinguished by the presence of small, pierced and unpierced lugs just beneath the rim or spout on the jars and jugs. Shapes include jars with cylindrical neck, jugs with rising spouts, two-handled jars, and bowls. Some of the pieces are burnished and then painted with a purplish-red pigment. The painted designs are similar to those found on the Goltepe vessels. Mellink (1992) suggests that the light clay miniature lug ware is a unique type of handmade painted ware, a "subgroup of the handmade "metallic" ware of the Konya and Aksaray-Nigde plains."

Two handmade jugs with rising spouts were found in an unsatisfied context at the bottom of Trench X in the excavation of Mersin. Both jugs are painted on their rims and handles and are very similar in appearance to those found at Goltepe. They each have a buff core, an orange-coloured slip and are lightly burnished, the paint is brownish black. Garstang compares the shape of these vessels with a similar jar from Tarsus (Garstang and Goldman 1947).

Melleart (1954) describes the painted thin metallic ware from the Konya plain as being thin, handmade, buff or red, gritty, very hard fired and having a clinky ring when struck. The colour of the exterior ranges from buff to apricot to brown and bluish gray or purplish black when overfired. The vessels are painted with thick dark red, brown, black, purple and white matt paint. Bands are painted around the lip of the vessel. Squiggles and rows of dots are painted at the base of the neck. As Goltepe, incisions are found only on the handles. Shapes include jugs with cylindrical necks and jugs with rising spouts and lug handles are common.

One possible metallic ware jug has been recognized in the EB II levels at Kultepe. This jug was found in a cist grave in level 14. It is brown, handmade, squat, loop-handled beak-spouted pitcher with a pierced lug just beneath the rim opposite the handle. Ozguc notes that this form is foreign to the region and has its closest parallel at Tarsus in light clay miniature lug ware. Anatolian metallic ware has also been recognized at Acemhöyuk in level 10 of the deep sounding (Ozten 1989; N. Ozguc 1983).

Metallic ware was first recorded on Early Bronze Age sites in Anatolia by Seton-Williams in her 1951 survey of Cilicia. This list was later appended by James Mellaart (1963) who participated on the original survey. Mellaart added four more sites to Seton-Williams' original list of 25, totalling 29 sites whose Early Bronze Age assemblages contained metallic ware. Mellaart later recorded metallic ware on 58 of the 135 known Early Bronze Age sites scattered across the Konya plain. A more recent survey of Cilicia was conducted in 1991 by a team from Bilkent University under the direction of Dr. Ilknur Ozgen and Dr. Marie-Henriette Gates. Their survey would add two more sites to the list compiled by Mellaart and Seton-Williams but their pottery descriptions are not as useful primary due to the confusion over the identity of metallic ware on the part of the author.

The metallic ware that occurs in northern Syria in the latter half of the third millennium is commonly referred to as "stone ware" by archaeologists working in that region (Orthmann 1986). It is called so because its shapes are similar to contemporary metal vessels and it has a metallic clinky sound when struck (Schneider 1989). Like Anatolian metallic ware, it is hard, well-fired, highly vitrified and has a straight fracture when broken. Stone ware, however, is fundamentally different from Anatolian metallic ware because it is wheel made, not handmade.

During the tin smelting process tin ore, flux and charcoal were placed in the interior of the vessel which upon heating to high temperatures (950C-1000C) resulted in a blackened, reduced surface. The lower parts of the crucibles were set in the ground and exposed to a low firing temperature (700C-800C), producing and oxidized reddish-orange surface. The interior of the crucibles is hard whereas the exterior is soft and fireable. It should be noted that the crucibles were not prefired as ceramics but rather fired for the first time with the tin ore charge in place (Yener and Vandiver 1993: 228).


I. The Proto-Urban Period

Late Chalcholithic-EB I: c. 3800-2800 BC

A. Western Anatolia

Our information about this period derives from three sides; Kurucay, Beycesultan and Kusura.

The metallurgy observed at Kurucay should have originated elsewhere for Duru (1983). Chemical analyses indicate that unalloyed copper was used by the local smiths. The presence of 1.19 Zn in the copper adze may be interpreted as an early attempt in deliberate alloying.

About Beycesultan, Yakar agrees with de Jesus that the small amount of metalwork from the early levels should not mislead us into concluding that the metal industries at this site were underdeveloped. The majority of the objects in the metal hoard were made of unalloyed copper. However, low arsenical coppers were already being used by the local smiths here to produce certain objects. As for the silver ring found in the hoard, if it was not made of native silver then one can assume that cupellation was already being practiced at this time in western Anatolia.

In Kusura too, the majority of the metal artefacts were made of unalloyed copper. But it seems that tin-bronze technology was introduced at this site towards the end of EB I. The range of metal objects at Kusura is limited to pins and needles which could have been produced locally, or as suggested by de Jesus acquired from elsewhere.

B. Central and North Central Anatolia

Alisar Hoyuk 19M-12M: The repertory of metal objects is limited to awls, pins and trinkets made of copper, silver, lead and tin-bronze. It should be stressed, however, that tin-bronzes are few and found in the late EB I (levels 13-12 M). Some artefacts are made of low arsenical coppers. On the basis of available evidence and the absence of molds from these or later third millennium BC levels, it is difficult to judge whether the proto-urban settlement had its local industry or relied on outside sources (e.g. itinerant smiths).

Buyuk Gullucek: This side produced two flat-axes made of copper containing less than 1% As. These objects may be dated to the last quarter of the fourth millennium BC

Ikiztepe: Fragments of metal objects such as pins, rings and awls found in almost all the Chalcholithic phases at Ikiztepe are further proof that the metallurgy of this region too had its origins elsewhere. The metal analyses published recently suggest that most of the objects were made of unalloyed copper. However, two of the metal objects analyzed contained small amounts of arsenic which suggests that the metal smiths of Ikiztepe were already familiar with copper-arsenic alloy.

C. Eastern Anatolia

Excavations in south-eastern Anatolia are producing important archaeological discoveries compare to those made in Keban in the last decade. It now seems that the "colonial" settlements of the Uruk period were not limited to northern Syria only. Mesopotamian settlers expanded their network of "colonies" in the direction of the upper Euphrates valley, in the metal-rich zone extending between Urfa and Keban. They were thus in a geographically ideal position to provide their "mother" cities with smelted copper, arsenic-rich copper, silver and even with finished metal artefacts needed in the south. The silver deposits in the Keban and the rich copper belt south of Elazig must have been partially exploited by prospectors of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The Uruk "colony" at Norsuntepe had set up a most elaborate metal industry which could have supplied both the local demand and export orders.

Norsuntepe: Some of the mud brick houses, built according to Mesopotamian architectural tradition, produce smelting furnaces, heaps of copper ore, chunks of slag, fragments of burned clay and metal objects such as rings, pins, and awls. The presence of so many finds relating to metallurgical activity inside houses and also in courtyards and streets indicate that the exposed buildings were inhabited by metal workers. The slogs found in the Uruk settlement were analyzed by Zwicker (1980). According to hi a crystalline type of ore could not have been used for copper smelting because the resulting copper alloy would contain too much Sb and could not be fabricated into tools and weapons (1980). This type of ore could be found in tertiary volcanic rocks which have been mineralized locally. The copper carbonates and the compounds of Sb, As, Pb and Zn occurs as fissure filings together with quartz and borite. Crystalline type of ore could have been used later as a raw material for an alloying reaction with copper to produce an alloy containing Sb and As and thus increase the hardness of copper. Similar ores can be found in the Azerbaijan mineralized area which is the continuation of the northeast Anatolian mineralized zone. Although the high content of Sb and As would be suitable for an improved copper product in the diagrammatic tree of the development of metallurgy, there was no evidence of Sb and As in the slag analysis from the Late Chalcholithic level (Zwicker 1980). The ore used for the production of the excavated slag was an easily reducible sandstone type of ore. In all slag samples investigated from Norsuntepe chloride was found in the interior of the slag so that one can assume that chloride was found in the interior of the slag so that one can assume that chloride fluxes were used for smelting this oxidized ore. It seems that at about 3500 BC in Norsuntepe an oxidized copper ore was smelted and that first trials with a more complicated Sb and As containing ore were intended. At a later time, 2800 BC, the workshops of Norsuntepe were among the early users of sulphide ore for smelting copper (Zwicker 1980). Zwicker believes that the small heaps of slag could indicate that the smelting was votive smelting for an unknown deity, Finds relating to metallurgical activity in the first half of the third millennium BC include a horse-shoe-shaped fire place used for melting copper, smelting furnaces in levels XXI-XIX, clay-clones and a two-piece mould for casting a "Karaz type" shaft-hole axes, crucibles and slag heaps. Metal artefacts from the EB I-II levels consist mainly of decorated pins. It should be added here that some of the pits found between levels XXII-XXIV and XXIV-XXV contained vast quantities of slag, fragments of moulds and crucibles.

Ten analyses of slag and copper-ore fragments indicate that malachite or azurite type ores were smelted at Tepecik and Tulintepe. The high Ni and As contents in some of the samples suggest that the copper used was not from the Ergani deposits. The smiths of Tepecik, Tulintepe and Norsuntepe could have obtained their supplies of copper from the deposits of Malazgirt, the Ovacik-Tunceli area, Coplerkoy, Mamlis, Keydak and Karabek. The copper-ore sample Bu-31/82 from Tepecik contained %0.72 tin which could indicate not only another source of copper in Elazig, but a remote possibility that Pertek was a source of tin in antiquity. The metal artefacts discovered in the Late Chalcholithic levels (Uruk settlement) and EB I-III houses are not very spectacular. However, of interest is a spearhead mould found in the EB II strata. It is important to emphasize that high content arsenical copper objects in the Keban appear after this region was settled by newcomers arriving from Transcaucasia (or via Transcaucasia).

Korucutepe Late Chalcolithic: One of the two mud-brick tombs had a wooden roof recalling the roofed house-like tombs of the Kurgan culture. The gray pottery found in one of the tombs in reminiscent of the ceramics of the Gray Ware culture of northern Iran, c. 3000 BC. At Turengtepe this culture is considered to be Indo-European. Finds from this cemetery include several lumps of copper ore near a child burial which suggests copper working nearby. But the most spectacular metal artifacts were discovered in two of the excavated monumental tombs. These are: (a) a mace-head of a bluish black metal, probably haematite or iron ore, (b) a silver band ending in spirals, (c) a tanged dagger with midrib, (d) a silver stamp seal-bracelet, engraved with a horned animal, not unlike the wild mountain goat often depicted in Iran. Another burial, a young girl, was also buried with silver objects. Around her head a silver band was accompanied with two pairs of small silver rings with overlapping ends. On top of her skull were too more silver rings, probably forming a hint ornament. Around her neck she wore a crescent-shade gorget made of silver. Near the right forearm 16 pieces of silver metal thread (4 mm in thickness) were found. Near the pelvis a band silver pin completes this extensive range of jewelry found in this tomb.

Arslantepe (Malatya) VI A-B: One of the most spectacular discoveries made in level VI A, corresponding roughly to the proto-literate b-c/d period in Mesopotamia, is a hoard of "22 arsenical bronze objects made up of 9 swords, 3 of them decorated with silver inlay, 12 spearheads and a plaque which is thought to be a buckle. The dating of this hoard which was found in 2 bundles of problematical; it was found in the remains of a building which is slightly later than the palace. The character and typology of the Arslantepe hoard have important chronological and technological implications in the evaluations of the origins of Anatolian and north Syrian metallurgies. According to Palmieri the swords must have been cast in open molds and the spearheads in closed ones. The swords are flat and there is no difference between thickness of the blade and hilt. The hilts are decorated with raised bands, incised and some with silver inlay. The spearheads have leaf-shaped blades with a cylindroid mid-rib and a long butt. Tangs are straight ending in chisel-shaped tips. This type of spearhead is closely comparable to those known to us from Karahasan and Carchemish. The plaque of quadruple spiral shape found together with the spearheads and swords is equally problematic to date. In Near Eastern jewelry this motif is found in later periods, although in glyptic art it is represented in the EB I not only at Arslantepe but in the Amuq (Phase G) and in the Euprathes valley as well.

The alloying technique, as described by Palmieri (1981), suggests that arsenic in high proportions was added to produce a deliberate alloy of arsenical bronze. The content of arsenic for the swords range between 5.8 and 3.2%; for the spearheads 4.3 - 1.3% and finally for the plaque 5.6%. In fact the EB III cemetery produced hundreds of metal objects produced with this type of alloy. One of the quadruple spiral plaques from Ikiztepe was found to contain up to 5% As.

D. The Amuq (Phases F and G)

The metal tools from phase F reflect the wide range of the local repertory which include reamers, pins, daggers and chisels. This were made of copper containing over 10% nickel. Although arsenic is present in these alloys this is attributed to the presence of nickel. From the typological point of view of metal work of this period seems to have been the product of a local industry with a long tradition and experience.

The phase G metal artifacts include cupreous objects such as pins, reamers, and a necklace which, from the typological point of view, partly shows an advance from the previous period. However, this phase witnessed changes in alloying techniques. Tin and arsenical bronzes are now more in evidence replacing the copper nickel alloys of Amuq F. There is no reason to believe that the new alloying techniques were developed by local smiths with no outside stimulus. It is very likely that the changes in alloying practices were also related to changes in the sources of copper supplies. In fact, the high nickel content in the copper tools of the previous period suggest that the source for such copper may have been located as far away as Oman or western Iran. The absence of nickel in phase G indicates a switch to different sources of copper ore.

The group consists of three male and three female figures which were obviously cast using lost-wax process. The basic metal of the figurines is a copper-base alloy with over 10% tin content, to be called true bronze. With the exception of one female figure, all of the statuettes have various details added in a non-copper-base alloy. This metal is a silver-rich alloy with copper and gold. It was used in sheets for the helmets of the male figures and the caps and collars of the two larger female figures. The clump in which the figurines were found yielded fragments of the accessories of the figurines in both the silver alloy and the cupreous metal with tin alloy.


II. The Early Urban Period

EB II: c. 2800-2450/2400 BC


During this period which must have lasted 4 centuries, the metal industry in Anatolia continued to develop at a slow pace. Regional schools of metalwork in west and central Anatolia introduced new alloying methods for the production of bronze tools, weapons and other objects. However, unalloyed copper was still the most common metal used in Anatolia, followed by arsenical-bronze, tin-bronze of lower grades of alloys containing small amounts of tin and arsenic in copper (ternary alloys). Tin-lead pewters were occasionally produced by some local work shops in this period. For ornamental purposes pewter may have offered a more economical material than silver or tin-bronze. But it could also be that lead was included in the tin and arsenical bronzes in order to preserve the latter from "metal disease".

A. Western Anatolia

Troy I-II a-b: Copper and bronze casting in open and closed molds was practiced at Troy I to produce jewelry and arrange of other items. Knives with curved blades and riveted handles are characteristic of this period. While pins were made of copper and silver, jewelry must have included gold artifacts and not only bronze-made examples. The local smith of Troy I already possessed the technology to refine and amalgamate gold and also perfected a method for gilding. Other technologies in the metal industry include the use of rivets for blades, copper and bronze sheet-metal working, cupellation of silver and probably tin-bronze production. Of the 7 analyses of Troy I there is only one high tin-bronze indication, whereas the remaining results show that the unalloyed copper and low grade arsenical copper were the main metals used by the metal smiths.

Beycesultan XIX-XVI: The few analyses available from the EB II period suggest that at the site too the metal smiths were using unalloyed and low arsenical copper to manufacture daggers and, probably, other basing implements as well. With the exception of a low grade tin-bronze found in level X (EB III), which could have been an import, there is no concrete evidence that tin-bronzes came into used at Beycesultan before the second millennium BC.

Kusura B: The small number of analyses available from phase B, a total of 12 samples, include at least one ternary alloy of tin, lead and copper, 2 tin-bronzes, a ternary alloy of tin, arsenic and copper, and 6 arsenical coppers; the rest is unalloyed copper. The range of metal objects from this phase does not indicate any real change from the previous phase A which was limited to awls and points. Pins, however, became very common in this period. Tin-bronzes and ternary alloys attributed to this phase may have in fact belonged to the second half of the third millennium BC. The analyses published by Esin suggest that the metal smiths of Yazilikaya (Emirdag), a site dated by Stronach (1957) to the Troy II period, used mainly low-grade arsenical copper for the manufacture of daggers and pins. Other alloys used to lesser extend include lead-copper, and a low and medium grade tin-bronze. The latter include 1.1% lead which indicates the practice of deliberate ternary alloying known also at Kusura.

Yortan (Balikesir): The 8 analyses published by Esin are a strong indication that low and medium grade arsenical copper was the main alloy used to produce the metal artifacts. A spearhead of medium grade tin-bronze, and containing arsenic, is the only evidence that suggests the production of ternary alloys in Balikesir.

Bayindirkoy (Ovabayindir): Non of the 7 analyses shows any traces of tin in the copper. The daggers of Bayirkoy were produced from low and medium grade arsenical copper in accordance with the alloying traditions of western Anatolia. One of the daggers has a very unusual compositions; for while it is quite free of tin, lead, antimony of nickel, it has a very high content of arsenic: 7.58%. The surface of this dagger, which is definitely of EB III date, is covered with lead plating presumably applied by soldering process. In fact, this dagger with its high arsenic content and plating could have been an import from the Bafra plain. At Ikiztepe too the EB III cemetery produced such weapons (e.g. spearheads). The only logical explanation for rendering such weapons useless without breaking them could be a tribal custom which probably required the sheathing of a death warrior's weapon prior to its deposition in the grave. It is important to stress that at Ikiztepe most of the EB III weapons were made from high arsenical copper.

Karatas-Semayuk: Of the 420 excavated tombs in cemeteries of this EBA settlement, 74 of them contained metal goods in the form of personal jewelry, ornamental articles, tools and weapons. Most of the objects were made from copper-based metals. Bordaz (1982) is convinced that the Karatas copper-based artifacts are of a copper native to Cyprus.

The burials from Karatas-Semayuk or those from Ahlatli Tepecik contained silver trinkets which could have been manufactures locally.

B. Central Anatolia

Both Polatli and Hashoyuk produced very little in the way of metal artifacts of this period to be considered under separate headings. Polatli finds include four pins (11729,11735, 11736, 11738), a chisel (11730) and a shaft-hole axe (11732) which have been assigned to this period. With the exception of a pin (11729) which is a low-grade-tin-bronze and 11738 made of unalloyed copper, the rest are low-grade arsenical copper/ the only analysis from Hashoyuk is that of a pin. It shows a low-grade arsenical copper alloy.

Alisar T 14-13 ; M 8-11: The metal workers of Alisar continued to some extent with the earlier tradition of manufacturing different objects of unalloyed copper. But, as the published analyses show, tin-bronzes of low and medium grades, and arsenical copper artifacts, put together exceeded the number of the unalloyed copper objects at this site. Most of the artifacts found at Alisar come from intra-mural tombs and consist of pins, including toggle pins of the late EB II period. Commenting on the metalwork of Alisar de Jesus remarks (1980) that this does not seem to have followed closely the spectacular development of other central Anatolian or Pontic sites such as Alacahoyuk, Kayapinar and to a certain degree, Ahlatlibel.

The three different alloying techniques practiced by metalsmiths of Alisar point to co-existing traditions within the same regional school of metallurgy. It is interesting to note that while the artifacts discovered in the jar burials were of simple forms such as pins and bracelets, the rather frequent use of tin-bronzes definitely suggests either a local source of supply of some sort of organized trade with distant regions, which in either case should have satisfied the increasing local demand for tin-bronzes. The fact that no moulds of EBA were found at this site has been interpreted by some, as indicating that no independent metal industry existed at this urban settlement, and that the inhabitants obtained their metalwork from elsewhere.

C. Eastern Anatolia

Karaz: The repertory of metal artifacts include daggers, shaft-hole axes, chisels, pins, awls, some jewelry and at least one sickle. the analyses show that low arsenical copper alloys were widely used (75% of all objects analyzed); the rest of the material was made of unalloyed copper. Guzelova which is not so far from Karaz produced only three metal artifacts: a tin-bronze bracelet which is of questionable EB II date. The use of low arsenical copper alloys in the demonstrated by the Pulur finds. Among the copper deposits in the Erzurum area, the ones at Pitkir may have been exploited as early as proto-urban period. It is important to note that these deposits contain arsenical ore (realgar) as well.

D. The Amuq (Phases H and Part of I)

The 42 metal objects from Phase H include pins, reamers, a large blade, a lancehead and an axe. More than half of the analyses suggest the use of medium to high grade tin-bronzes. Some of these are ternary alloys of tin-arsenic-copper. The presence of a high silicon level in some of the bronzes is remarkable. The early part of Phase I, which is contemporary with Cilician EB II, should also be included in the study of the urban period metallurgies in the Amuq, despite the fact that some of the nine metal objects from this phase (seven are copper-based metals with four made of tin-bronzes) could belong to the late Phase I: EB IIIa. The presence of a mould for metal tools found in Phase I is a further indication of an independent metal industry at Judeidah..

E. Cilicia

Tarsus EB II: Compared to the EB I period metalwork which consisted mainly of small objects, in EB II there is definitely a larger repertory of artifacts including toggle pins. De Jesus suggests (1980) that toggle pins make their appearance in Tarsus. The analyses from Tarsus EB II number some 28 of which more than half are unalloyed copper. The alloying of copper with arsenic or tin, and in some cases with both (ternary alloys) seem to have been practiced by some local metalsmiths. The tin-bronzes are low to medium grade; the arsenical coppers too are low grade. Lead was occasionally added to the base metal either to lower the melting point or to prevent possible metal disease. Cilician settlements did not have to import copper supplies from very distant regions. The ore which contains 7-7.4 gr./ton gold may have also been a minor source in EB II period. Other sources of copper exist in the region of Anamur and Hatay.


III. The Period of Emerging Dynasties

EB III: 2450/2400-2100/2000 BC

In this period, large zones in the Pontus and in the highlands of eastern Anatolia must have been inhabited by nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes. They were, as indicated by metal artifacts found with their burials, highly skilled metallurgists whose alloying techniques, casting methods and characteristic "animal style" in decorative art had left their imprint in central Anatolian schools of metalwork. Another factor which could have accelerated the diffusion of metal forms and technologies would be the exchange of gifts between royal houses such as Troy and Poliochni. Such exchanges could have resulted in the adoption of new conceptions and methods.

A. Western Anatolia

The material evidence for the EB III metallurgy is mainly derived from Karatas-Semayuk, Troy and the extra-mural cemeteries in the Balikesir area. It must be stressed, however that with the exception of Troy most of the evidence from the other sites is chronologically problematical and rather inconclusive.

Karatas-Semayuk: The majority of the artifacts are derived from sheet-metal (Bordaz 1982). Since none of the Karatas sheet-metal objects were fashioned in the round, the sheet, once prepared on open moulds or by hammering, would have been cut in outline in the shape of the projected artifacts (Bordaz:1982). The technologically more advanced process of casting in bivalve moulds was, nevertheless, known to the smiths of Karatas. Daggers with pronounced mid-rib reinforcing and a carinated macehead found among the metal assemblage could only have been produced in bivalve moulds. Open moulds must have been used in the production of sheet-metal and bar-ingots which were subsequently hammered into wire. Razors, flat-blades and chisels too were probably cast in such moulds. Ear-studs found at Karatas were manufactured with a layer of incised gold sheet masking a core of some black crystalline material, perhaps a mixture of sand and pitch (Bordaz 1982).

Tory IIc-IV-V: The new type of tools and weapons include a great variety of spearheads, daggers, knives, chisels and some toilet implements (Branigan 1974; Esin 1969 and Bittel 1959).the technical improvements from the previous period are seen mainly in jewelry making, and in the greatly increased production of large and small vessels. It is a fact that certain metal technologies (e.g. sheet-metal) or the potter's wheel reached western and central Anatolia from Syria/Mesopotamia rather late in the Early Bronze Age. The absence of smelting equipment at Troy II (as in Troy I), such as smelting furnaces or pot bellows, and waste material (slag heaps), is constructed as an indication that the craftsmen here were involved in smithing and not smelting (de Jesus 1980). The "palatial" workshops, if the great number of moulds from this period (Branigan 1974) is any indication, must have increased their production of tools and weapons. Of paramount interest in alloying techniques is the nearly unprecedented popularity of tin-bronzes in the manufacture of flat axeheads, arrowheads, spearheads, long and short daggers, pins, needles, razors, tweezers, chisels, nails, saws, knives, spikes, borers, fish-hooks, punches and sickles (Esin 1969, Branigan 1974). High and middle-grade tin-bronzes at Troy II account for more than 64% of all the pieces analyzed (de Jesus 1980). In the later phases of Troy II closer contacts with regions in north-central Anatolia, the southern plateau, Cilicia and across the Amanus may account for some of the innovations in the field of metallurgy and new forms of artifacts. It must be these contacts that helped the smiths of Troy II become familiar with the metalworks of their Mesapotamian counterparts. The cire-perdeu and jour casting processes were introduced at this time. New forms include the double-spiral pin, the toggle pin, probably introduced from the southeast, the barber arrowhead, the knife with a pronounced curve tip, the shaft-hole axe-adze and the shaft-hole axe-hammer (de Jesus 1980).

Troy III-IV/V: It may be assumed that some of the alloying practices of Troy II continued in this period. Most interesting, as far as techniques are concerned, is the introduction of appliqué, cloisonné decoration and gold to gold soldering in the local workshops.

B. Central and North-Central Anatolia

Alacahoyuk "Royal Tombs": The shallow shaft-graves of Alaca are absolutely different from what we know about tomb architecture in Anatolia and in the ancient Near East in general. The Alaca material from the tombs may be divided into a number of categories; objects of religious significance, weapons, jewelry and household objects made of gold. Mould or cire-perdue casting was practiced in the Pontus. The "inverse segregation" process in coating some of the metalwork, and in particular the bull figurines, with a thin layer of arsenical-copper was a technique brought to Anatolia probably from the Caucasus.

The high quality tin-bronzes from Alacahoyuk, Horoztepe and Kayapinar are another indication of highly developed alloying techniques in the Pontus. Close to half of the analyzed artifacts from Alacahoyuk were made of tin-bronzes. It seems that the smiths of the Pontus region preferred to work with tin-bronze rather than arsenical copper. The latter was also used as a base-metal but to a much lesser extent. Tin could have been preferred for a variety of reasons; in ingots it was obviously not very cumbersome to transport, and being less brittle than arsenical copper it must have been easier to work with. But the main reason for its popularity no doubt should be related to the steady supplies of this metal, either from a still unknown local source or via Transcaucasia.

One encounters the metal needles found in the graves mentioned above for the first time in the Bronze Age in the Royal Grave at Alacahoyuk, and the troy and other contemporary settlements. Use of this material continued with the Hittites,

Horoztepe (Graves): Sheet-metal technology seems to be widely practiced here as at other Pontic sites. It is not unlikely that this method of manufacturing metal vessels, head bands and furniture reached this part of Anatolia, as well as western Anatolia, from metalworking centers in southeastern Anatolia or from Mesopotamia. At Horoztepe high and medium-grade tin-bronzes make for more than half of all the objects analyzed. Middle and low arsenical coppers account for one quarter of the metal artifacts.

Ikiztepe (Necropolis): The presence of a red-burnished ware with black interior suggests that this site was inhabited to some extent in the third millennium and fourth quarters of the third millennium BC. A mould (shaft-hole axe) discovered at Ikiztepe suggests that at least some of the metal production was done locally.

Most of the spearheads are shaped like willow-leaves. They are trapezoidal in section with a flat ridge and a long bent tang. The blades are not slotted and at least one of them is unusually large. Some of these blades were placed in a sheath before being deposited in the grave.

Most of the metal objects produced by the smiths of Ikiztepe are copper-based. Even the jewelry, with the exception of a few pieces, is made of copper. Strangely enough, tin-bronzes were not manufactured at Ikiztepe. The preferred alloy was a high arsenical copper.

Ahlatlibel: The analyses of some 22 copper-based metals suggest that high tin-bronzes and low to medium grade arsenical coppers were equally popular at this site. Unalloyed copper, on the other hand was mainly used for the production of jewelry and may be some tools. The fact that, as in Alaca and Alisar, here too no ternary alloys of copper-arsenic-tin were used has been interpreted as the co-existence of two distinct metallurgies.

C. Cilicia

Tarsus EB III: The metalwork from Tarsus and the Soli treasure include forms which were new to Cilicia. These are the bent-tanged spearhead with slotted blade, daggers and swords. Despite the changes in the material culture in the field of metallurgy, it is possible to observe the preservation of the EB II traditions especially in the alloying techniques. Of the 29 analyzed from Tarsus EB III, close to 66% of the artifacts are unalloyed copper and the remaining are divided between copper-arsenic and ternary alloys. No pure tin-bronzes are known. This is very strange because in northwest, north-central and central Anatolia tin-bronzes became very abundant in this period, and in the Amuq they constituted an important percentage of the copper-based metal. It seems the problem was not really related to supplies of tin.

D. Amuq

There is very little change in the local repertory of metalwork from the previous phase I. Reamers are no longer present and the 10 metal artifacts discovered include a shaft-hole axe and a dagger. There is no change in the alloying techniques; tin-bronze accounts for half the objects analyzed. The other half is composed of copper-arsenic alloys. Unalloyed copper which was the main metal used in Tarsus was apparently not appreciated by the smiths of Amuq.


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  2. Yakar J., 1984. Regional and Local Schools of Metal Work in Early Bronze Anatolia, Part I, Anatolian Studies, 34, pp. 59-86
    1. Bordaz, L. A., 1982. The Metal Artifacts from the Bronze Excavations of Karatas-Semayuk, Turkey and their Significance in Anatolia, the Near East and the Aegean, University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
    2. de Jesus P. S., 1980. The Development of Prehistoric Mining and Metallurgy in Anatolia. BAR International Series 74(i).
    3. Duru R., 1983. "Kurucay Hoyugu Kazilari", Jahrbuch fur Kleinasiatische Forschung, IX, pp.13-89
    4. Esin, U., 1982. "Tepecik Excavations", Keban Project 1974-1975 Activities, Ankara, pp. 95-126
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    2. Branigan, K., 1974. Aegean Metalwork in the Early and Middle Bronze Ages. Oxford.
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