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Development of metallurgy in Eurasia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Benjamin W. Roberts
Department of Prehistory and Europe, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, UK (Email:
Christopher P. Thornton
Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6398, USA (Email:
Vincent C. Pigott
Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, UK (Email:


The authors reconsider the origins of metallurgy in the Old World and offer us a new model in which metallurgy began in c. eleventh/ninth millennium BC in Southwest Asia due to a desire to adorn the human body in life and death using colourful ores and naturally-occurring metals. In the early sixth millennium BC the techniques of smelting were developed to produce lead, copper, copper alloys and eventually silver. The authors come down firmly on the side of single invention, seeing the subsequent cultural transmission of the technology as led by groups of metalworkers following in the wake of exotic objects in metal.

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd 2009

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