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The smelting of copper in the third millennium cal BC Trentino, north-eastern Italy

Pearce, Mark; Merkel, Stephen; Hauptmann, Andreas; Nicolis, Franco

The smelting of copper in the third millennium cal BC Trentino, north-eastern Italy Thumbnail


Professor of Mediterranean Prehistory

Stephen Merkel

Andreas Hauptmann

Franco Nicolis


This paper presents observations and analyses on seven slag pieces from two third millennium cal BC (late Copper Age / early Bronze Age) rock shelters in the Trentino, northeastern Italy: La Vela di Valbusa and the Riparo di Monte Terlago. We review previous work on contemporary slags from the region and show that the smelting did not follow the well-known 'Timna', 'Eibner' or so-called 'Chalcolithic' copper smelting processes. We show that ethnographic accounts of copper smelting in the Himalayas (Sikkim and Nepal), illuminate the smelting process, in particular the lack of preliminary roasting or ore beneficiation by washing, the use of slags as fluxes for the first smelt (matte smelting) and the use of wooden (?) implements to lift the hot slags from the furnace during the smelt. The rock inclusions in the slag are consistent with an ore origin from mines at Calceranica or Vetriolo, as previously reported in the literature.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 16, 2021
Online Publication Date Dec 23, 2021
Publication Date 2022-01
Deposit Date Dec 10, 2021
Publicly Available Date Dec 23, 2021
Journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Print ISSN 1866-9557
Electronic ISSN 1866-9565
Publisher Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 1
Article Number 10
Keywords Archeology; Anthropology; Archeology
Public URL
Publisher URL


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