Skip to main content

Bronze metallurgy in the Late Phrygian settlement of Gordion, Turkey

Abstract

A detailed understanding of bronze production remains absent in most archaeological contexts, despite the fundamental importance of this alloy. Here, we present a comprehensive discussion of the bronze production remains from Late Phrygian/Achaemenid Gordion: crucibles, moulds and casting waste and their find contexts. A detailed microscopic analysis of crucibles is complemented by chemical characterisation of their main materials (ceramic and slag) in order to discuss the technical performance of the crucibles and to evaluate the materials used for the metallurgical process. Given the lack of contemporary parallels, repeated reference is made to the Egyptian crucibles from Pi-Ramesse, for which similarly detailed descriptions are available. The crucible analyses are then connected to the other production remains to obtain a more holistic understanding of the metallurgical process. Finally, these technical observations are interpreted in their particular archaeological context at Gordion and discussed from a wider perspective. The results presented here offer the first detailed overview of bronze production for ancient Phrygia, as well as the wider region. Through the inclusion of extensive online supplementary data, this paper offers a detailed technical overview of ancient (bronze) crucible analysis, of which very few examples are currently available in the wider literature.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14

Notes

  1. 1.

    Gordion Project website: http://sites.museum.upenn.edu/gordion/

  2. 2.

    In a subsequent article Young cites the evidence from the foundry as ‘...ample evidence for a local bronzeworking industry operating as early as the middle of the seventh century’ (Young 1958, p. 228). In fact, no direct evidence for local bronzeworking in the seventh or eighth century has ever been found at Gordion. An argument for its existence in these periods was instead based on the sheer number of typologically similar bronzes (especially fibulae) found in tombs (Young 1955, n. 6; see also Young 1981, p. 247).

  3. 3.

    All information on the foundry comes from the excavation of Trench NCTA3 by Jeanny Vorys Canby, Gordion NBK 39, Gordion Archives.

  4. 4.

    Avoiding quartz in the analysis of the ceramic part would result in a biased (lower) silica content for the ceramic w.r.t. the slag (where quartz is included either as part of the glassy matrix or as undissolved fragments), skewing comparisons between the two. Quartz content may indeed vary from frame to frame, depending on the dominant minerals present in the analysed area. As such, a single frame may be biased w.r.t. overall ceramic composition, but averaging of multiple frames counters this effect. Here, quartz fragments are relatively well distributed and smaller than the analysis frame, resulting in stable measurements of silica content for the crucible ceramic. This is apparent from the low variation in silica measured for each crucible (cfr. standard deviations and value ranges reported for silica in section 3.2 of the OSM: typically σ rel≈2%), and across the crucible assemblage (Fig. 7).

  5. 5.

    Due to differences noted between Gordion-23707 and Gordion-28236, and limited (three) samples analysed of this aberrant, marl-based fabric, the average composition in Table 2 has a high standard deviation w.r.t. the general population.

  6. 6.

    Relative increases in oxide ratios to alumina are calculated as: ΔMeO/Al2O3=\( \frac{\frac{{\mathrm{MeO}}_{\mathrm{slag}}}{{{\mathrm{Al}}_2{\mathrm{O}}_3}_{\mathrm{slag}}}-\frac{{\mathrm{MeO}}_{\mathrm{ceramic}}}{{{\mathrm{Al}}_2{\mathrm{O}}_3}_{\mathrm{ceramic}}}}{\frac{{\mathrm{MeO}}_{\mathrm{ceramic}}}{{{\mathrm{Al}}_2{\mathrm{O}}_3}_{\mathrm{ceramic}}}} \)

  7. 7.

    The dross layer was measured separately for five crucibles; averages here represent five times five measurements.

  8. 8.

    The pXRF analysis of these moulds took place in 2012 at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology as a means of sorting through the assemblage for sample selection. This data was obtained using their recently acquired handheld XRF (HH-XRF) device (Bruker Tracer III SD, S/N: T3S165q, yellow filter11, 45 s live-time), which had not been calibrated for quantitative analysis. Raw spectra were visually inspected to look at presence/absence of elements, in order to assess variability in the assemblage.

  9. 9.

    This is especially true compared with that seen in Pi-Ramesse crucible slag: up to 600% ΔFeO/Al2O3 (Rademakers et al. 2013). Similarly, lime enrichment is ca. 10 times lower in the Gordion crucibles (cfr. ‘Charcoal and fuel ash contribution’).

  10. 10.

    In cupellation processes, a precious metal (e.g. silver) is molten with excess lead, which under oxidising conditions forms lead oxide (litharge). This litharge incorporates the base metals contaminating the precious metal, thereby purifying it (Bayley 1996; Bayley et al. 2008).

References

  1. Atasoy E, Buluç S (1982) Metallurgical and archaeological examination of Phrygian objects. Anatol Stud 32:157–160

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bayley J (1996) Innovation in later medieval urban metalworking. Hist Metall 30:67–71

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bayley J, Dungworth D, Paynter S (2001) Centre for Archaeology Guidelines: Archaeometallurgy. English Heritage Publications, Swindon

  4. Bayley J, Crossley D, Ponting M (2008) Metals and Metalworking - A Research Framework for Archaeometallurgy, The Historical Metallurgy Society

  5. Bilgi Ö (ed) (2004) Anatolia, Cradle of Castings. Döktaş, Istanbul

  6. Bowen NL (1915) The later stages of the evolution of the igneous rocks. The Journal of Geology 23:1–91

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bucher K, Grapes R (2011) Petrogenesis of Metamorphic Rocks, 8th edn. Springer, Berlin

  8. Chirikure S, Heimann RB, Killick D (2010) The technology of tin smelting in the Rooiberg Valley, Limpopo Province, South Africa, ca. 1650–1850 CE. J Archaeol Sci 37:1656–1669

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Colman SM (1982) Chemical weathering of basalts and andesites: evidence from weathering rinds. U.S. Geological Survey, Professional Paper 1246

  10. Costin CL (1991) Craft specialization: issues in defining, documenting, and explaining the organization of production. Archaeol Method Theory 3:1–56

    Google Scholar 

  11. Craddock PT (1976) The composition of the copper alloys used by the Greek, Etruscan and Roman civilizations. 1: the Greeks before the Archaic period. J Archaeol Sci 3:93–113

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Craddock PT (1978) The composition of the copper alloys used by the Greek, Etruscan and Roman civilizations. 3: the origins and early use of brass. J Archaeol Sci 5:1–16

  13. Craddock PT (2015) The metal casting traditions of South Asia: continuity and innovation. Indian J Hist Sci 50:55–82

    Google Scholar 

  14. Crew P, Rehren Th (2002) High-temperature workshop residues from Tara—iron, bronze and glass. Discovery Programme Report 6:83–103

  15. Davey CJ (2009) The early history of lost-wax casting. In: Mei J, Rehren Th (eds) Metallurgy and Civilisation. Eurasia and Beyond. Archetype Publications, London, pp 147–154

  16. Dungworth D (2000) A note on the analysis of crucibles and moulds. Hist Metall 34:83–86

    Google Scholar 

  17. Dungworth, D (2013) Experimental archaeometallurgy: hypothesis testing, happy accidents and theatrical performances. In: Dungworth D, Doonan RCP (eds) Accidental and Experimental Archaeometallurgy, HMS Occasional Publication 7. The Historical Metallurgy Society, pp 11–16

  18. Eggleton RA, Foudoulis C, Varkevisser D (1987) Weathering of basalt: changes in rock chemistry and mineralogy. Clay and Clay Minerals 35:161–169

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Ellingham HJT (1944) Reducibility of oxides and sulphides in metallurgical processes. Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry 5:125–133

    Google Scholar 

  20. Erb-Satullo NL, Gilmour BJJ, Khakhutaishvili N (2015) Crucible technologies in the Late Bronze-Early Iron Age South Caucasus: copper processing, tin bronze production, and the possibility of local tin ores. J Archaeol Sci 61:260–276

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Evans RT, Tylecote RF (1967) Some vitrified products. Bulletin of the Historical Metallurgy Group 1:22–23

    Google Scholar 

  22. Gale NH, Stos-Gale ZA, Gilmore GR (1985) Alloy types and copper sources of Anatolian copper alloy artifacts. Anatol Stud 35:143–173

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Goren Y (2008) The location of specialized copper production by the lost wax technique in the chalcolithic southern Levant. Geoarchaeology 23:374–397

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Grave P, Kealhofer L, Marsh B (2005) Ceramic compositional analysis and the Phrygian sanctuary at Dümrek. In: Kealhofer L (ed) The Archaeology of Midas and the Phrygians: Recent Work at Gordion. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, pp 149–160

  25. Grave P, Kealhofer L, Marsh B, Sams GK, Voigt M, DeVries K (2009) Ceramic production and provenience at Gordion, Central Anatolia. J Archaeol Sci 36:2162–2176

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Hall FP, Insley H (1933) A compilation of phase-rule diagrams of interest to the ceramist and silicate technologist. J Am Ceram Soc 16:463–567

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Hauptmann A (2007) The Archaeometallurgy of Copper – Evidence from Faynan. Springer, Jordan

  28. Hein A, Karatasios I, Müller NS, Kilikoglou V (2013) Heat transfer properties of pyrotechnical ceramics used in ancient metallurgy. Thermochim Acta 573:87–94

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Henrickson RC (1993) Politics, economics, and ceramic continuity at Gordion in the late second and first millennia B.C. In: Kingery WD (ed) Social and Cultural Contexts of New Ceramic Technologies, Ceramics and Civilization, vol 6. American Ceramic Society, Ohio, pp 89–176

  30. Henrickson RC (1994) Continuity and discontinuity in the ceramic tradition at Gordion during the Iron Age. In: French D, Çilingiroğlu A (eds) Anatolian Iron Ages 3. The proceedings of the third Anatolian Iron Ages colloquium held at Van, 6–12 August 1990, British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, Monograph 16. British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, London, pp 95–129

  31. Henrickson RC (2005) The local potter’s craft at Phrygian Gordion. In: Kealhofer L (ed) The Archaeology of Midas and the Phrygians: Recent Work at Gordion. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, pp 124–135

  32. Henrickson RC, Blackman MJ (1996) Large-scale production of pottery at Gordion: a comparison of the Late Bronze and Early Phrygian industries. Paléorient 22:67–87

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Hirao Y, Enomoto J, Tachikawa H (1995) Lead isotope ratios of copper, zinc and lead minerals in Turkey in relation to the provenance study of artefacts. In: Prince Takahito Mikasa HIH (ed) Essays on Ancient Anatolia and its surrounding Civilisations. Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, pp 89–114

  34. Horne L (1982) Fuel for the metal worker—the role of charcoal and charcoal production in ancient metallurgy. Expedition 25:6–13

    Google Scholar 

  35. Kealhofer L (ed) (2005) The archaeology of Midas and the Phrygians: Recent Work at Gordion. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia

  36. Kearns T, Martinón-Torres M, Rehren Th (2010) Metal to mould: alloy identification in experimental casting moulds using XRF. Hist Metall 44:48–58

  37. Körte G, Körte A (1904) Gordion: Ergebnisse der Ausgrabung im Jahre 1900. Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Supplement 5. G. Reimer, Berlin

  38. Lafli E, Buora M (2012) Fibulae in the Museum of Ödemis (Western Turkey). Oriental Archive 80:1–18

    Google Scholar 

  39. Le Bas MJ, Le Maitre RW, Streckeisen A, Zanettin B (1986) A chemical classification of volcanic rocks based on the total alkali-silica diagram. J Petrol 27:745–750

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Lehner JW (2012) A preliminary report on the microstructure and microanalysis of metal from Boğazköy. Archäologischer Anzeiger 2011:57–64

  41. Marsh B (2000) Geomorphology of the Gordion regional survey, unpublished report dated September 12, 2000, Gordion archive. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia

    Google Scholar 

  42. Marsh B (2005) Physical geography, land use, and human impact at Gordion. In: Kealhofer L (ed) The archaeology of Midas and the Phrygians: Recent Work at Gordion. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, pp 161–171

  43. Martinón-Torres M, Rehren Th (2009) Post-medieval crucible production and distribution: a study of materials and materialities. Archaeometry 51:49–74

  44. Mellink MJ (1956) Archaeology in Asia Minor. Am J Archaeol 60:369–384

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Miller NF (2010) Botanical Aspects of Environment and Economy at Gordion, Turkey. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia

  46. Miller D, Hall S (2008) Rooiberg revisited—the analysis of tin and copper smelting debris. Hist Metall 42:23–38

    Google Scholar 

  47. Misra MK, Ragland KW, Baker AJ (1993) Wood ash composition as a function of furnace temperature. Biomass Bioenergy 4:103–116

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Muan A (1957) Phase equilibria at liquidus temperatures in the system iron oxide-Al2O3-SiO2 in air atmosphere. J Am Ceram Soc 40:121–133

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Müller NS, Kilikoglou V, Day PM, Vekinis G (2010) The influence of temper shape on the mechanical properties of archaeological ceramics. J Eur Ceram Soc 30:2457–2465

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Muscarella OW (1967) Phrygian Fibulae from Gordion. William Clowes and Sons, Limited, Colt Archaeological Institute, London

  51. Pigott VC, Fleming SJ, Darby C (1991) Preliminary Research on Copper-Base Material at Gordion: Metallographic and Compositional Analyses. MASCA Archaeometallurgy Interim Report, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

  52. Rademakers FW (2015) Into the crucible. Methodological approaches to reconstructing crucible metallurgy, from New Kingdom Egypt to Late Roman Thrace. Unpublished PhD thesis, University College London, URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1469615

  53. Rademakers FW, Rehren Th (2016) Seeing the forest for the trees: assessing technological variability in ancient metallurgical crucible assemblages. J Archaeol Sci Rep 7:588–596

  54. Rademakers FW, Rehren Th, Pusch EB (2013) Bronze production in Pi-Ramesse: alloying technology and material use. In: Ben-Yosef E, Goren Y (eds) Mining for copper: essays in honor of Professor Beno Rothenberg. Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv (in press)

  55. Rademakers FW, Rehren Th, Pernicka E (2017) Copper for the Pharao: identifying multiple metal sources for Ramesses’ workshops from bronze and crucible remains. J Archaeol Sci 80:50–73

  56. Rehren Th (1997) Die Rolle des Kohlenstoffs in der prähistorischen Metallurgie. Stahl und Eisen 117:87–92

  57. Rehren Th (2000) Rationales in Old World base glass compositions. J Archaeol Sci 27:1225–1234

  58. Rehren Th (2001) Die Schmelzgefässe aus Cham-Oberwil. In: Gnepf Horisberger U, Hämmerle S (eds) Cham-Oberwil, Hof (Kanton Zug). Befunde und Funde aus der Glockenbecherkultur und der Bronzezeit, Basel, pp 118–131

  59. Renzi M, Rovira-Llorens S (2016) Metallurgical vessels from the Phoenician site of La Fonteta (Alicante, Spain): a typological and analytical study. In: Körlin G, Prange M, Stöllner Th, Yalcin Ü (eds) From Bright Ores to Shiny Metals. Verlag Marie Leidorf, Rahden/Westfalen, pp 143–166

  60. Roman I (1990) Copper ingots. In: Rothenberg B (ed) The Ancient Metallurgy of Copper: Archaeology-Experiment-Theory. The Institute for Archaeo-Metallurgical Studies, London, pp 176–181

  61. Rose CB (ed) (2012) The Archaeology of Phrygian Gordion, Royal City of Midas. Gordion special studies VII. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia

  62. Rose CB, Darbyshire G (eds) (2011) The New Chronology of Iron Age Gordion. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia

  63. Rovira S (2007) La producción de bronces en la prehistoria. In: Molera J, Farjas J, Roura P, Pradell T (eds) Avances En Arqueometría. Actas Del VI Congreso Ibérico De Arqueometría 2005. Universidad de Girona, Girona, pp 21–35

    Google Scholar 

  64. Sayre EV, Joel EC, Blackman MJ, Yener KA, Özbal H (2001) Stable lead isotope studies of Black Sea Anatolian ore sources and related Bronze Age and Phrygian artefacts from nearby archaeological sites. Appendix: new Central Taurus ore data. Archaeometry 43:77–115

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Timberlake S (1994) An experimental tin smelt at Flag Fen. Hist Metall 28:121–128

    Google Scholar 

  66. Tylecote RF (1982) Metallurgical crucibles and crucible slags. In: Olin JS, Franklin AD (eds) Archaeological Ceramics. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., pp 231–243

  67. Tylecote RF, Photos E, Earl B (1989) The composition of tin slags from the south-west of England. World Archaeol 20:434–445

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Vassileva M (2012) Early bronze fibulae and belts from the Gordion citadel mound. In: Rose CB (ed) The Archaeology of Phrygian Gordion. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Royal City of Midas, Philadelphia, pp 111–126

  69. Voigt MM (1994) Excavations at Gordion, 1988–89: the Yassıhöyük stratigraphic sequence. In: French D, Çilingiroğlu A (eds) Proceedings of the 3rd international Anatolian Iron Age symposium (van, 1990), British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara. Monograph 16. Oxbow Books, Oxford, pp 265–293

  70. Voigt MM (2009) The chronology of Phrygian Gordion. In: Manning S, Bruce JJ (eds) Tree Rings, Kings and Old World Archaelogy. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp 319–327

  71. Voigt MM (2011) Gordion: the changing political and economic roles of a first millennium city. In: Steadman S, McMahon G (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Anatolia. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 1069–1094

  72. Voigt MM (2012) Human and animal sacrifice at Galatian Gordion: the uses of ritual in a multiethnic community. In: Porter A, Schwartz G (eds) Sacred Killing: the Archaeology of Sacrifice in the Ancient Near East. Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, Indiana, pp 235–288

  73. Voigt MM (2013) Gordion as city and citadel. In: Redford S, Ergin N (eds) Cities and Citadels in Turkey: from the Iron Age to the Ottomans. Peeters Publishing, Koç Institute Monograph, Leuven, pp 161–228

  74. Wood N (2009) Some implications of the use of wood ash in Chinese stoneware glazes. In: Shortland AJ, Freestone IC, Rehren Th (eds) From Mine to Microscope. Advances in the Study of Ancient Technology. Oxbow Books, Oxford, pp 51–60

  75. Young RS (1955) Gordion: preliminary report, 1953. Am J Archaeol 59:1–18

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Young RS (1958) Bronzes from Gordion’s Royal Tomb. Archaeology 11:227–231

    Google Scholar 

  77. Young RS (1963) Gordion on the Royal Road. Proc Am Philos Soc 107:348–364

    Google Scholar 

  78. Young RS (1981) Three Great Early Tumuli. The Gordion excavations final reports, I. University Museum Monograph 43, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Download references

Acknowledgements

Results presented in this paper are part of the first author’s PhD research undertaken at the UCL Institute of Archaeology (Rademakers 2015), which was funded by an ESR fellowship from the European Union: Marie Curie ITN (FP7-PEOPLE-2010) NARNIA project (grant 265010, led by V. Kassianidou). Unless otherwise noted, all analyses were undertaken at the Wolfson Archaeological Science Laboratories, UCL Institute of Archaeology. We want to thank Harriet White for her tireless support in the sample preparation lab and Kevin Reeves for his valuable help in the SEM lab. We would further like to thank Alison Fields for compiling field notes on the foundry evidence excavated by Young, and Peter Grave and Lisa Kealhofer for sharing their thoughts on the available Gordion ceramic data. Finally, the first author would like to thank Naomi Miller and the other staff at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology for their hospitality during his brief research stay there in the framework of this study. All modern archaeological research at Gordion (1950–2006) has been sponsored and supported by the University of Pennsylvania Museum; the College of William and Mary has been a co-sponsor since 1991, and the Royal Ontario Museum co-sponsored work carried out between 1994 and 2002. Excavation and survey at Gordion since 1988 has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH, a US federal agency), the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the National Geographic Society, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Kress Foundation, the IBM Foundation, the Tanberg Trust and by gifts from generous private donors. Anonymous reviewers’ comments have helped to strengthen this paper, and are greatly appreciated. Any remaining shortcomings are our own.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Frederik W. Rademakers.

Electronic supplementary material

ESM 1

(PDF 8214 kb)(Please contact the corresponding author if higher resolution images are required.)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Rademakers, F.W., Rehren, T. & Voigt, M.M. Bronze metallurgy in the Late Phrygian settlement of Gordion, Turkey. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 10, 1645–1672 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-017-0475-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Phrygia
  • Achaemenid
  • Bronze metallurgy
  • Crucible analysis
  • Moulds