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Production Networks and Consumer Choice in the Earliest Metal of Western Europe

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Archaeometallurgy in Global Perspective

Abstract

The earliest metal objects and metal production practices appeared in western Europe during the fourth and third millennia BC. The presence of earlier dates for copper, gold, silver and lead, as well as arsenical copper and tin-bronze alloys in central and eastern Europe implies that there is no evidence for the independent invention of metallurgy in western Europe. Instead, the acquisition of metal objects as exotica by communities appears to have led eventually to the movement of people possessing metallurgical expertise. However, the metals, production techniques and object forms used in each early region reflect local standards seen in other materials. This implies a process of incorporation and innovation by the communities involved rather than a straightforward or inevitable adoption. The presence of metal may have created new networks of communication and exchange but, due to its small scale, there is no evidence for any metallurgical revolution.

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Acknowledgements

This is a slightly revised paper from the paper of the same title in the Journal of World Prehistory (2009). The errors and opinions remain my own.

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Roberts, B. (2014). Production Networks and Consumer Choice in the Earliest Metal of Western Europe. In: Roberts, B., Thornton, C. (eds) Archaeometallurgy in Global Perspective. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-9017-3_16

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