Provenance Studies

  • Andreas Hauptmann
Part of the Natural Science in Archaeology book series (ARCHAEOLOGY)


The provenance of metal artefacts and the search for ore resources used in prehistoric and historic times for smelting processes is one of the basic questions of archaeology. The purpose of this research is the reconstruction of the obviously very complex trade relations, which, quite early on, reached near global geographic distances of more than a thousand kilometres. Supra-regionally, metal artefacts may occur in varying distributions. On the one hand, they are found in areas exceptionally rich in mineral deposits, such as the incredible masses of Bronze Age axes and other artefacts in the area of present-day Central Europe during the late third and second millennium BC (Tumulus culture, Urnfield culture; Parzinger 2016). On the other hand, they also occur in areas that do not have any ore deposits, as, e.g. in the case of the rich finds of gold, silver, copper and bronze in the Early Dynastic and Akkadic periods in Mesopotamia, also in the third millennium BC. In Mesopotamia, between the Euphrates and Tigris, there are only quaternary sediments, no ore deposits. Many of the metal objects found there were imported, sometimes from distant lands, e.g. from Makan (Oman), from northern Afghanistan or from Anatolia (Salzmann 2019; Jansen 2016, 2019).


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Hauptmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Haus der Archäologien, ArchaeometallurgyDeutsches Bergbau-Museum / Ruhr UniversityBochumGermany

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