Middle Bronze Age Arsenical Copper Alloys in Southern Portugal

TitleMiddle Bronze Age Arsenical Copper Alloys in Southern Portugal
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsValério P a, Soares AMM a, Araújo MF a, Silva RJC b, Baptista L c

In the Iberian Peninsula, the copper metallurgy from the Chalcolithic to the Middle Bronze Age (MBA) was mostly characterized by low arsenic contents. A collection of 53 MBA artefacts from southern Portugal was analysed by micro-EDXRF, optical microscopy, SEM–EDS and Vickers to investigate the metal composition and manufacture. No technological distinction was found between artefacts from domestic and funerary contexts, which were radiocarbon-dated to 2000–1500 cal bc. The arsenic contents of almost 100 MBA artefacts from this region, including the above-mentioned set, have a Gaussian distribution with a high average (3.9 wt% As). Possible explanations are discussed for this distinctive metallurgy at the south-western end of the Iberian Peninsula. © 2015 University of Oxford