Archaeological Arsenical Bronzes and Equilibrium in the As-Cu System


Understanding the effects of impurities, segregation, undercooling, and solidification velocity is necessary to reconstruct prehistoric As-Cu alloy manufacturing processes and practices. Moreover, these alloys often contain a wide variety of minor and trace elements such that the binary As-Cu equilibrium phase diagram does not adequately represent arsenical bronze artifacts as-cast in ancient molds. Furthermore, the variable cooling rates present in as-cast alloys of predominantly arsenic and copper, due to the thermal properties of differing mold materials, would have had profound effects on the formation of inversely segregated arsenic. Alloys with 1 to 15 wt pct arsenic were prepared and studied using differential thermal analysis, metallography, and scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. Equilibrium diagrams were established and the potential influence of trace elements discussed. A new liquidus curve for the equilibrium diagram in this compositional range, measuring slightly higher in temperature, was established.

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Adapted and modified from Ref. [2]

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The authors acknowledge financial support provided by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, Grant Agreement No. 656244.

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Correspondence to Marianne Mödlinger.

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Manuscript submitted December 1, 2016.

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Mödlinger, M., Cziegler, A., Macció, D. et al. Archaeological Arsenical Bronzes and Equilibrium in the As-Cu System. Metall and Materi Trans B 49, 2505–2513 (2018).

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  • Arsenical Bronze
  • Inverse Segregation
  • Mold Material
  • Ancient Mould
  • Differential Thermal Analysis (DTA)