Metallography and Microstructure of Metallic Artifacts


The microscopic study of the internal structure of metal objects is called metallography, and it is an essential tool used by industrial metallurgists and metal engineers even today. However, metallography is also a powerful tool for the archaeometallurgist, as it allows us to study the methods used in the casting, forging, and finishing of an artifact. Through this method, the researcher gains an understanding of the “chaîne opératoire” or series of steps used by the ancient metal worker in the production of an object. Metallography can also be used to answer other important archaeometallurgical questions, such as the authenticity of an artifact (vs. a modern forgery) or whether an iron object is made from meteoritic or smelted iron.


Microscopy Copper Iron Forgery Phase diagrams Metal working Casting 

Suggested Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cotsen Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity of California Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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