Skip to main content

IRON WORKING IN AEGEAN THRACE DURING ANTIQUITY: NEW EVIDENCE FOR SMELTING ACTIVITY OF THE 4TH CENTURY BC AT THE CITY ON THE MOLYVOTI PENINSULA

By July 29, 2022July 31st, 2022New, Vol. 8.3

by Nerantzis, N., Arrington, N., Terzopoulou, D. and Tasaklaki, M.

ABSTRACT

Iron working in Aegean Thrace during Classical and Roman times was based on different choices of raw ma-terials from a variety of available ores, possibly determined by cultural criteria. The precursors to selective ore procurement can be seen in earlier evidence from Thasos in the form of a few iron smelting waste remains found at the cemeteries of Kastri dating to the Early Iron Age. More substantial evidence for smelting and smithing activities has been noted in the Archaic city of Thasos, but their interdisciplinary investigation is pending. So far, the only comprehensive study on smelting and smithing slag and iron objects that has pro-vided crucial information on the differential techniques employed in iron production of the 5th century BC across this region has focused on finds from Abdera and Zone. More recently, iron slag has been collected from the northern enclosure of Abdera in the framework of an ongoing survey project (APAX) as well as during excavation at the Thasian colony of Pistyros, yet study is ongoing and only information on spatial distributions is currently available. This paper aims to briefly review the existing research data and to present new results from a recent instrumental analysis on iron working slag recovered in the framework of the Molyvoti, Thrace, Archaeological Project (MTAP). The finds derive from contexts of the 4th century BC, exca-vated between 2013 and 2019, and their analysis with optical microscopy and SEM/EDS offers valuable data on the smelting and smithing practices prevalent on site that display similarities with some of the other colo-nies of Aegean Thrace. Based on the current results limonite and/or hematite were the most commonly used ores and a Ti-rich iron source of lesser significance as suggested by the chemical composition of a single sam-ple. The bloomery process could be characterized as efficient with minor losses of metal into the slag. The use of fluxes to lower the melting point of iron during smelting has been also confirmed. Such findings are im-portant as they complement previous data on the technology of smelting local ores to supply the iron indus-tries in Aegean Thrace.

pdf

Download pdf

Leave a Reply