Special Issue "Mineralogy, Trace Elements and Isotopic Tracers in Archaeometallurgy"

A special issue of Minerals (ISSN 2075-163X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2021) | Viewed by 6347

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Laura Chiarantini
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Centro di Microscopia Elettronica e Microanalisi, Università di Firenze, Firenze, Italy
Interests: cultural heritage; archaeometallurgy; environmental geology; gochemistry

Special Issue Information

One of the main goals of archaeometallurgy deals with the possibility to trace back the provenance of metal objects as well as of row metals and minerals employed in the metallurgical chain for the reconstruction of ancient commercial routes.  In addition, many types of "technological traces" have been demonstrated also to be useful tools to investigate metallurgical processes parameters. This Special Issue will focus on the employment of mineralogical, chemical, and isotopic traces in archaeometallurgy for both provenance and technological applications. These aspects of archaeometallurgy also benefit from advanced analytical methods that allow non- or micro-invasive sampling procedures and from multi-analytical techniques, thus encouraging advanced multi-traces strategies for ancient metallurgy characterization.

Dr. Laura Chiarantini
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Non-ferrous archaeometallurgy
  • Ferrous archaeometallurgy
  • Geochemical tracers
  • Isotope analysis
  • Mineral deposits
  • Mineral geochemistry

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
Reconstruction of Copper Smelting Technology Based on 18–20th-Century Slag Remains from the Old Copper Basin, Poland
Minerals 2021, 11(9), 926; https://doi.org/10.3390/min11090926 - 27 Aug 2021
Viewed by 513
Abstract
This research was conducted on historical copper slags from Leszczyna and Kondratów in Lower Silesia, Poland. The area, formerly known as the Old Copper Basin, was a mining and smelting centre between the 18th and 20th centuries, with a dominant period in the [...] Read more.
This research was conducted on historical copper slags from Leszczyna and Kondratów in Lower Silesia, Poland. The area, formerly known as the Old Copper Basin, was a mining and smelting centre between the 18th and 20th centuries, with a dominant period in the 19th century. Cu-carbonates and residual chalcocite dominate local strata-bound copper deposits. Ore bodies are restricted to carbonate strata. A geochemical and mineralogical study of slag samples from four research sites allowed us to establish that a low amount of sulphur in slags results from S-poor ores, and pyrite with gypsum was implemented as reducing agents. Arkose sandstones served as a flux. During smelting, oxygen availability was limited, and temperature exceeded 1200 °C (18th- and 19th-century smelting) and 1400 °C (20th-century smelting). Calculated viscosity indexes mark the low efficiency of metal separation between the silicate and metallic phases. The skeletal and dendritic form of the crystals proved that slag melt was relatively rapidly cooled after formation, usually in air conditions. We estimated that approx. 2000 m3 of slag was created during the leading smelter (Stilles Glück) activity. The research provided various details of the historical copper smelting technological process in Leszczyna and Kondratów. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineralogy, Trace Elements and Isotopic Tracers in Archaeometallurgy)
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Article
Interpreting the Chemical Variability of Iron Smelting Slag: A Case Study from Northeastern Madagascar
Minerals 2021, 11(8), 900; https://doi.org/10.3390/min11080900 - 19 Aug 2021
Viewed by 756
Abstract
The archaeological remains of a metallurgical workshop were excavated at Amboronala (northeast of Madagascar/1000–1200 CE). The bulk mineralogical (X-ray Diffraction) and chemical (X-ray Fluorescence) data on ores, building materials, and slag are used to carry out a mass balance calculation. The results show [...] Read more.
The archaeological remains of a metallurgical workshop were excavated at Amboronala (northeast of Madagascar/1000–1200 CE). The bulk mineralogical (X-ray Diffraction) and chemical (X-ray Fluorescence) data on ores, building materials, and slag are used to carry out a mass balance calculation. The results show an important variability from one smelt to the other, reflecting a poorly controlled process. During each smelt, a given amount of building material contributes to the formation of the slag, and the conditions of reduction allow the extraction of a given amount of metal. These two main factors influence the composition of the slag independently and variably. This finding allows to make some inference on the origin of the technique and the organization of the production can be made. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineralogy, Trace Elements and Isotopic Tracers in Archaeometallurgy)
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Article
Lead Isotope Analysis of Geological Native Copper: Implications for Archaeological Provenance Research in the North American Arctic and Subarctic
Minerals 2021, 11(7), 667; https://doi.org/10.3390/min11070667 - 23 Jun 2021
Viewed by 577
Abstract
The Indigenous inhabitants of Arctic and Subarctic North America had been using native copper for several centuries prior to sustained interaction with Europeans beginning in the 18th century. The connection, if any, between the use of copper in these two adjacent regions is, [...] Read more.
The Indigenous inhabitants of Arctic and Subarctic North America had been using native copper for several centuries prior to sustained interaction with Europeans beginning in the 18th century. The connection, if any, between the use of copper in these two adjacent regions is, at present, unclear. The ability to determine the source of native copper artifacts found in greater northwestern North America would inform on the movement of copper via trade and exchange between, and aid in understanding the innovation and diffusion of native copper metallurgy among, ancestral Dene and Inuit People. This paper provides the results of a Lead Isotope Analysis (LIA) pilot study examining Pb isotope ratios of native copper samples from multiple locations in the northern regions of North America. The results from this preliminary study indicate some overlap in Pb isotope ratios between Arctic and Subarctic sources of native copper, and these nonetheless record distinct isotope signatures relative to those associated with other North American native Cu deposits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineralogy, Trace Elements and Isotopic Tracers in Archaeometallurgy)
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Article
Medieval Pb (Cu-Ag) Smelting in the Colline Metallifere District (Tuscany, Italy): Slag Heterogeneity as a Tracer of Ore Provenance and Technological Process
Minerals 2021, 11(2), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/min11020097 - 20 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 738
Abstract
Archaeological investigations of the Colline Metallifere district (Southern Tuscany, Italy) have highlighted several Medieval sites located close to the main Cu-Pb-Fe (Ag) ore occurrences. This study is focused on the investigation of late-medieval slags from Cugnano and Montieri sites using both geochemical and [...] Read more.
Archaeological investigations of the Colline Metallifere district (Southern Tuscany, Italy) have highlighted several Medieval sites located close to the main Cu-Pb-Fe (Ag) ore occurrences. This study is focused on the investigation of late-medieval slags from Cugnano and Montieri sites using both geochemical and mineralogical methods to understand slag heterogeneities as result of ore differences and technological processes. Matte-rich slags present in both sites (with abundant matte ± speiss and frequent relict phases) represent waste products related to primary sulphide ore smelting to obtain a raw lead bullion. The distribution of slags between the Ca-rich or Fe-rich dominant composition, and the consequent mineralogy, are tracers of the different ore–gangue association that occurred in the two sites. Silver is present only in very small matte-rich slags and ores enclosed within the mortar of the Montieri site; wastes derived from silver-rich mineral charges were probably crushed for the recovery of silver. Matte-poor slags found at Montieri represent a second smelting; raw lead bullion obtained from matte slags (both Fe- and Ca-rich) was probably re-smelted, adding silica and Al2O3-phase-rich fluxes, under more oxidizing conditions to reduce metal impurities. This second step was probably employed for Zn-rich lead ores; this process helped to segregate zinc within slags and improve the quality of the metal. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineralogy, Trace Elements and Isotopic Tracers in Archaeometallurgy)
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Article
Deciphering the Iron Provenance on a Medieval Building Yard: The Case of Bourges Cathedral
Minerals 2020, 10(12), 1131; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10121131 - 16 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 906
Abstract
This paper presents the provenance study of the iron reinforcements of Bourges Cathedral (13th c.): the links of a 100 m long iron chain, surrounding the eastern parts of the cathedral at the triforium level and 4.5 to 5 m long tie-rods consolidating [...] Read more.
This paper presents the provenance study of the iron reinforcements of Bourges Cathedral (13th c.): the links of a 100 m long iron chain, surrounding the eastern parts of the cathedral at the triforium level and 4.5 to 5 m long tie-rods consolidating the arches of the inner aisle at the same level. The analytical methodology is based on the determination of trace rare earth elements analyses by LA-ICP-MS in the slag inclusions of the artefacts and in the slag found on candidate production sites combined with statistical approaches. This chemical approach is crossed with archaeological and historical studies on the monument itself and on the production sites. Ninety-nine iron samples were analyzed on the bars and chains and 238 iron slags from 3 presumed areas of supply. For the first time, iron circulation and trade around a single building yard over a time of 30 to 40 years is studied with a precision never obtained before with historical sources. It shows that mainly four different metallurgical districts, local and more distant, supplied the building yard, mostly depending on the construction phases and also on the types of iron armatures needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineralogy, Trace Elements and Isotopic Tracers in Archaeometallurgy)
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Article
Reconstruction of 16th–17th Century Lead Smelting Processes on the Basis of Slag Properties: A Case Study from Sławków, Poland
Minerals 2020, 10(11), 1039; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10111039 - 20 Nov 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1032
Abstract
The study focuses on the reconstruction of the technological process in the 16th–17th century lead smelter in Sławków based on chemical and petrographic analyzes of slags. There are three main types of material at the landfill: glassy, crystalline, and weathered. Glassy slags are [...] Read more.
The study focuses on the reconstruction of the technological process in the 16th–17th century lead smelter in Sławków based on chemical and petrographic analyzes of slags. There are three main types of material at the landfill: glassy, crystalline, and weathered. Glassy slags are made of amorphous phase in which crystals of pyroxene, willemite, olivine, wüstite, and lead oxide appear. Crystalline slags are composed of wollastonite, rankinite, melilite, anorthite, quartz, and Fe oxides. Weathered slags have a composition similar to glassy slags, but they also contain secondary phases: anglesite and cerussite. Chemical analyzes confirmed that the smelter used sulphide ores, which were roasted, and the main addition to the charge was quartz sand. The smelting process took place in a brick-built furnace, under reducing conditions, with varied oxygen fugacity ranging from WM to MH buffer. The slag characteristics show a knowledge of the workers in the field of smelting methods. The addition of SiO2 allowed for the binding of elements that could contaminate the obtained lead, and at the same time, the low melting point of the material (1150 °C) and the melt viscosity (logη = 1.34 for 1150 °C) was maintained, enabling the effective separation of liquid lead. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineralogy, Trace Elements and Isotopic Tracers in Archaeometallurgy)
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Article
Chemical and Phase Reactions on the Contact between Refractory Materials and Slags, a Case from the 19th Century Zn-Pb Smelter in Ruda Śląska, Poland
Minerals 2020, 10(11), 1006; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10111006 - 12 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1152
Abstract
Slags from the historic metallurgy of Zn-Pb ores are known for unique chemical and phase compositions. The oxides, silicates, aluminosilicates, and amorphous phases present therein often contain in the structure elements that are rare in natural conditions, such as Zn, Pb, As. The [...] Read more.
Slags from the historic metallurgy of Zn-Pb ores are known for unique chemical and phase compositions. The oxides, silicates, aluminosilicates, and amorphous phases present therein often contain in the structure elements that are rare in natural conditions, such as Zn, Pb, As. The study focuses on processes occurring on the contact of the melted batch and the refractory materials that build the furnace, which lead to the formation of these phases. To describe them, chemical (X-ray fluorescence (XRF), inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS)) and petrological ((X-ray diffraction (XRD), electron probe micro-analyses (EPMA), Raman spectroscopy) analyses were performed on refractory material, slag, and contact of both. Two main types of reactions have been distinguished: gas/fluid- refractories and liquid- refractories. The first of them enrich the refractories with elements that migrate with the gas (Pb, K, Na, As, Zn) and transport the components building it (Fe, Mg, Ca) inward. Reactions between melted batch and refractory materials through gravitational differentiation and the melting of refractories lead to the formation of an aluminosilicate liquid with a high content of heavy elements. Cooling of this melt causes crystallization of minerals characteristic for slag, but with a modified composition, such as Fe-rich pyroxenes, Pb-rich K-feldspar, or PbO-As2O3-SiO2 glass. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineralogy, Trace Elements and Isotopic Tracers in Archaeometallurgy)
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