Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Knowledge of Ancient Metalwork Is Solidified

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Knowledge of Ancient Metalwork Is Solidified

Article excerpt

Byline: TONY HENDERSON Reporter ncj.jlnews@reachplc.com

STUDENTS are aiming to recreate prehistoric metalworking techniques in live open-air experiments at a heritage site.

It is the first in a series of projects by a group of Newcastle University postgraduate students to better understand how materials such as copper and glass were made thousands of years ago. In a collaboration with Jarrow Hall Anglo-Saxon Farm in South Tyneside, the group will be giving demonstrations of copper smelting today and tomorrow.

This will be followed by a free public lecture on Saturday at 3pm also at Jarrow Hall.

They experiments are based on discoveries made at Pyrgos-Mavroraki, near Limassol in Cyprus - known to date to around 2,000BC.

Due to the wealth of its ore deposits, Cyprus was a metal powerhouse from the Bronze Age to the late Roman period. Most of the copper used in the Mediterranean during that time is believed to have been sourced from, and smelted on, the island.

Excavations over the last decade unearthed evidence of metallurgical activity in Pyrgos, including several workshops.

As well as recreating the type of pit furnace found at Pyrgos, the team will also be using replicas of blowpipes, which use the same type of ceramic nozzles that were discovered during the excavations at the site.

Marco Romeo Pitone, who is leading the research as part of his PhD at Newcastle University, said: "The site at Pyrgos-Mavroraki was abandoned around 1,800BC so this is a very early moment for metalworking in Cyprus. The discoveries that have been made there are exceptional for a site dating back this far.

"But we still don't fully understand the specialist techniques these ancient smiths used so the challenge now is to put together the archaeological evidence to try to recreate how it might have been done. …

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