Detecting changes in copper technology by analyzing slag from Nahal Amram Israel


As part of the archaeological study of Nahal Amram in the ‘Araba valley, copper slag samples from a mining camp dating from the 5th millennium BCE until the 1st millennium AD were chemically analyzed by X-ray fluorescence (XRF) in an attempt to determine the technological level of production in each of the site’s occupation. The method provides a tool to distinguish between slag of various technological phases and periods. Thus, the slags from different sites in Nahal Amram related roughly to four stages of metallurgy development. These metallurgical results indicate the reuse of slag from earlier periods in later periods in order to produce more copper from the slag as a result of more complex production methods that were available in the later periods. Thus, in Nahal Amram, we can observe a real technological development of metallurgical production from earlier to later periods based almost exclusively upon the results of slag analyses. The results were compared with other smelting sites in the region.

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  • 02 August 2020

    Author ���Uzi Avner��� asked to remove the name in the list of authors of the paper. The request was agreed by the co-authors. Given in this article is the corrected list.


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We wish to thank Dr. L. Cummings, Paleo Research Institute, Golden Colorado for providing 14C dating of charcoal samples.


This research was supported by Israel Science Foundation Grant No. 60/14.

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Correspondence to Sana Shilstein.

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The materials of this research were presented partly at the 4th Conference Archaeometallurgy in Europe (Madrid, 3–6 June 2015).

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Shilstein, S., Kan-Cipor - Meron, T., Avner, U. et al. Detecting changes in copper technology by analyzing slag from Nahal Amram Israel. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 12, 96 (2020).

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  • Israel
  • Ancient copper smelting
  • XRF
  • Slag content
  • Technology improvment