Cycladic Lead and Silver Metallurgy
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 September 2013
Interest in the prehistory of the Cyclades may fairly be said to have been awakened in the middle of the nineteenth century when travellers like Walpole or Fiedler were intrigued by what we now regard as one of the characteristic products of ECII times in the Cyclades—the marble folded-arm figurines whose harmony, balance, and economy of artistic expression appeal so much to the admirers of twentieth-century artists such as Mondrian or Modigliani. Reports of other prehistoric material from the Cyclades soon followed from J. T. Bent, U. Köhler, and F. Dümmler, whilst more systematic explorations began with the work of Edgar in Pelos, and Atkinson and others at Phylakopi on Melos.
- Research Article
- Copyright © The Council, British School at Athens 1981
Acknowledgements. We are very grateful to Professor C. Renfrew for suggesting that we extend our studies from Archaic times into the Bronze Age and for his subsequent enthusiastic encouragement of our work and for the continual encouragement and assistance which we have received also from Professor C. Doumas. We gratefully acknowledge the help which we have received from Drs. K. Tsakos and H. Zervoudaki, Ephors of the Cyclades. Our thanks are due for continuing assistance in many ways to Drs. H. Catling, R. Jones, J. Carrington-Smith, C. Mee, Mr. A. Spawforth, and Mrs. H. Efthymiades of the British School at Athens, to Drs. O. Tsakos-Alexandri, M. Vlasopoulou, and K. Assimenos of the National Museum, Athens, to Drs. M. Vickers, R. Moorey, H. Brock, C. Kraay, and D. M. Metcalf of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, to M. Warhurst of the Merseyside County Museums, Liverpool, to Drs. B. Cook and P. T. Craddock of the British Museum, to Professor H. Mussche and Dr. P. Spitaels of the Seminarie voor Griekse Archeologie, Ghent, to Drs. J. Bornovas, N. G. Melidonis and S. Papamarinopoulos of IGME, Athens, and to our former colleagues Professor W. Gentner, Drs. O. Müller, G. A. Wagner, and H. Gropengiesser of Heidelberg. For the analytical measurements in Oxford we are grateful to Professor E. T. Hall, Professor K. Allen, and Drs. A. Jones and J. Rose for making available facilities in their Departments. Finally we gratefully acknowledge financial support for this work from the Science Research Council, the British Academy, and the Volkswagen Foundation.
Aegean World I Doumas, C. (ed.), Thera and the Aegean World Vol. 1 (1978).Google Scholar
Aegean World II Doumas, C. (ed.), Thera and the Aegean World Vol. 2 (1980).Google Scholar
Arkesine Bossert, E. M., ‘Zur Datierung der Gräber von Arkesine auf Amorgos’, Festschrift für Peter Gössler (Stuttgart, 1954).Google Scholar
Art and Culture Thimme, J. (ed.), Art and Culture of the Cyclades (Müller: Karlsruhe, 1977).Google Scholar
BHZ Berg- und hüttenmännische Zeitung.
BSRGB Bulletin Societé Royale Belge de Géographie, Bruxelles.
Burial Habits Doumas, C., ‘Early Bronze Age Burial Habits in the Cyclades’, Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology xlviii (1977).Google Scholar
Civilisation Renfrew, Colin, The Emergence of Civilisation (Methuen: London, 1972).Google Scholar
Davis Davis, Ellen N., The Vapheio Cups and Aegean Gold and Silver Ware (Garland: New York, 1977).Google Scholar
Early Mining Craddock, P. T. (ed.), Scientific Studies in Early Mining and Extractive Metallurgy, British Museum Occasional Paper No. 20 (London, 1980).Google Scholar
Fiedler Fiedler, K. G., Reise durch alle Theile des Königreiches Griechenland, ii (Leipzig, 1841).Google Scholar
Goulandris Doumas, C., The N. P. Goulandris Collection of Early Cycladic Art (1968).Google Scholar
IGME Institute of Geological and Mining Exploration, Athens.
Keos I Coleman, J. E., Keos I: Kephala (Princeton, 1977).Google Scholar
Metalwork Branigan, K., Aegean Metalwork of the Early and Middle Bronze Age (Oxford, 1974).Google Scholar
MMG Metallogenetic Map of Greece, Explanatory Booklet, IGME (Athens, 1973).
Papathanasopoulos Papathanasopoulos, G. A., ‘Kykladika Naxou’, A. Delt. xvii (1961–1962) 104.Google Scholar
Phylakopi Atkinson, T. D. et al. , Excavations at Phylakopi in Melos, Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, Occasional Paper 4 (1904).Google Scholar
Prehistory Davis, J. L. and Cherry, J. F. (edd.), Papers in Cycladic Prehistory, Monograph XIV, Institute of Archaeology, University of California at Los Angeles (1979).Google Scholar
Roman Mines Davies, O., Roman Mines in Europe (Oxford, 1935).Google Scholar
Technologie Blümner, H., Technologie und Terminologie der Gewerbe und Knste bei Griechern und Römern iv (1887/1969).Google Scholar
Tylecote Tylecote, R. F., A History of Metallurgy, The Metals Society (London, 1976).Google Scholar
1 The choice and definition of a ‘cultural’ or chronological system for the description of the Early Cycladic period is at present a matter of dispute amongst Aegean prehistorians; a dispute into which we do not propose to enter. As a matter of convenience only (and with no implication of preference) we attempt to classify the artefacts which we discuss according to the system EC I, EC II, EC III, MC, whilst admitting that in many cases certainty is impossible since the appropriate stratigraphy or proper description of associated pottery is either wholly missing or inadequately reported. With this in mind it seems adequate for our purposes roughly to equate the Grotta-Pelos phase with EC I, the Keros-Syros phase with EC II, and the Phylakopi I phase with EC III. For recent discussions of terminology see Barber, R. N. L. and MacGillivray, J. A., AJA lxxxiv (1980) 141–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Caskey, J. L., Historia xxvii (1978) 488–91Google Scholar; Coleman, J. E., Prehistory (1979) 48–50 and 64–5Google Scholar; Renfrew, C., Prehistory (1979) 51–63Google Scholar; Doumas, C., Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology xlviii (1977)Google Scholar; Renfrew, C., Civilisation 53–5 and 135–221.Google Scholar
8 Recent Cycladic research is summarised in Art and Culture 185–91.
10 Civilisation 308–38.
11 Metalwork; Art and Culture 117–22.
13 The most comprehensive studies are Civilisation, Burial Habits, and Art and Culture.
16 See Cherry, J. F., Prehistory (1979) 32–7Google Scholar, for references and a discussion of Neolithic settlements in the Cyclades.
18 Op. cit. (n. 1).
19 Civilisation 135–96 and 507–38.
21 Civilisation 199–200.
22 Caskey, J. L., ‘Chalandriani in Syros’, in Essays in Memory of Karl Lehman (New York, 1964) 63–9.Google Scholar
24 Op. cit. (n. 1).
28 The stage of exclusive use of native copper, at least in the Balkans and Danube Basin, may have been very short—see Jovanović, B., Early Mining 37.Google Scholar
31 At the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age mining sites of Rudna Glava in Yugoslavia, Chinflón in Spain, and Timna in Israel only oxidized copper ores were mined, in each case principally malachite with some azurite and cuprite. See Jovanović, Early Mining 36; Rothenberg, B. and Freijeiro, A. Blanco, Early Mining 41–62Google Scholar; Craddock, P. T., Early Mining 165–74.Google Scholar
32 Tylecote 7–8.
34 Analyses of massive and euhedral cerussite given by Patterson (n. 27) show less than 3 ppm Ag, and are probably for cerussite from the leached zone of a weathered lead-silver deposit. In the oxidized zone, lower down, one might find secondary cerargyrite and native silver mixed with cerussite and anglesite. In Laureion the old miners speak of cerussite rich in silver whilst Conophagos, C., in Le Laurium antique (Athens, 1980) 160–7Google Scholar, records that Laureion cerussite in the oxidized zone contains 500–5000 ppm Ag.
35 See for instance, Gale, N. H., Gentner, W., and Wagner, G. A., Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication No. 12 (1980) 3–49.Google Scholar
36 For a discussion see Gale, N. H. and Stos-Gale, Z. A., ‘Ancient Egyptian Silver’, JEA lxvii (1981).Google Scholar
37 The first comprehensive description of smelting pyrite ores for gold and silver seems to be that given by Agricola, in De re Metallica (1556) [see pp. 399–401 in the translation by H. C., and Hoover, L. H. (Dover: New York, 1950)].Google Scholar See also n. 36 above. As far as the authors are aware it cannot be claimed that pyrites were smelted for precious metals before Roman or perhaps Classical Greek times. However gold certainly occurs in many places in northern Greece and might have been used in the Bronze Age.
38 For a description of these processes see Conophagos, C., Le Laurium antique (Athens, 1980) 274–354.Google Scholar
39 McKerrell, H. and Stevenson, R. B. K., Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication No. 8 London (1972) 195–204.Google Scholar
42 Op. cit. (n. 35) 21–2 (Laureion), 6 (Siphnos, Río Tinto).
43 Pernicka, E., Gentner, W., Wagner, G. A., Vavelidis, M., and Gale, N. H., Revue d'Archéometrie v (1980).Google Scholar
44 These operations are described by Agricola, op. cit. (n. 37) 379–92 and 400; Pliny, xxxiii 31 also speaks of the necessity of using lead to smelt silver ores; it is unlikely that in more ancient times better could be achieved, and similar methods were still being used in the 19th c. A.D. as is described by Percy, op. cit. (n. 41) 504–31.
45 Gale, Gentner, and Wagner, op. cit. (n. 35), have given analyses of 110 archaic Greek silver coins, the great majority of which will have been produced from silver derived from argentiferous galena.
46 C. C. Patterson, op. cit. (n. 33).
48 C. C. Patterson, op. cit. (n. 33) 315.
49 Duport, St. Clair, De la production des méteaux précieux au Mexique (Paris, 1843) 211 ff.Google Scholar
50 Hanfmann, H. M. and Waldbaum, J. C., in Near Eastern Archaeology in the Twentieth Century, Festschrift for Nelson Glueck (Garden City, N.Y., 1980)Google Scholar, have summarized the evidence for parting gold from silver by salt cementation in Sardis, Lydia, in a 575–550 B.C. level.
51 Boyle, op. cit. (n. 47) 33.
53 Tylecote 5–10 summarizes the evidence.
55 Some of the 5th- and 4th-millennium finds are listed in Tylecote 6–7, whilst Jovanović, Early Mining 32 gives the evidence for 4th-millennium copper ore mining in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria.
56 Tylecote 6, Table 5.
57 Jovanović, Early Mining 31–40.
65 Reported by Pleiner, R. in Excavations at Tal-i-Iblis, edited Caldwell, J. (Springfield, Ill., 1967) 368–71.Google Scholar
66 Hetherington, R. in Aspects of Early Metallurgy, British Museum Occasional Publication OP17 (London, 1977) 27–40.Google Scholar
68 Merpert, N. I., Munchaev, R. M., and Bader, N. O., Sumer xxxiii (1977) 84 pl. xii 2.Google Scholar
70 Prag, K., in Archaeology in the Levant, edited by Moorey, P. R. S. and Paar, P. J. (London, 1978) 36–45.Google Scholar
72 Tylecote 1–2, 5–6.
74 Tylecote 5. The lead found with the copper is of course evidence of early lead-smelting, not copper-smelting, notwithstanding the remarks in Maddin et al. (n. 73 above).
77 Lamberg-Karlovsky, C. C., Bulletin XXVII, American School Prehistoric Research, Harvard (1970)Google Scholar.
79 Keos I 42.
81 Prag, op. cit. (n. 70).
82 Gale and Stos-Gale, op. cit. (n. 71).
83 Tylecote 14–22.
84 Metalwork 97–119.
85 Keos I 42 pl. 66: 84.
86 Data for Troy and Crete are taken from the catalogue in Metalwork, for the Cyclades from this article.
88 Metalwork 7–54.
94 AJA lxxi (1967) 4.
97 AJA lxxi (1967) 6–7.
98 Metalwork 192, 195.
100 Op. cit. (n. 95) 20.
101 AM xvi fig. 55.
102 AJA lxxi (1967) 1–20.
103 Metalwork and Art and Culture 117–22.
104 AE (1899) fig. 10: 1.
105 Op. cit. (n. 22).
106 e.g. Metalwork, Catalogue 3288–91.
107 For which we thank Dr. P. T. Craddock.
108 JHS xiv (1894) 325 n. 26a.
109 AJA lxxi (1967), catalogue no. 11.
110 AM ix (1884) 160.
113 Davis 62–3.
114 JHS v (1884) 53.
115 BSA iii 50.
116 Metalwork 50.
117 e.g. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology (1973) 3–11; Thera I, 629–44.
118 Published in AJA lxxi (1967) pl. 3: 15 and 16.
119 BSA (1896–7) 52–70.
120 BSA Supplementary Paper No. 1, Part 1 (1923).
122 Faure, P., RA (1966) 45–78Google Scholar, Proc. 3rd Int. Cretological Conference (Athens, 1973) 70–83.
123 We have analytical evidence that at Knossos in MM I to LM III times the great majority of lead came from Laureion.
125 O. Höckman, Art and Culture 163–72.
126 AJA lxxi (1967) 1–20, Metalwork 59–63.
127 Metalwork 63.
130 Institute of Geological and Mineral Exploration (Athens, 1965).
131 Roman Mines.
134 Roman Mines 262 3.
136 BSRBG xxi (1897) 417–47.
137 Roman Mines 257–9.
139 BSRBG xxiv (1900) 533–58.
140 Roman Mines 259–61.
142 Fiedler 111–12.
143 Op. cit. (n. 141) 124.
144 Geological and Geophysical Research vii 5 (1963) IGME, Athens, 339–50.
146 Fiedler 334–6.
147 JdI lxxxvii (1972) 52.
148 BHZ (1876) 95.
149 Technologie 89.
152 JdI lxxxvii (1972) 21.
153 De Lapidibus 52.
154 Roman Mines 256 n. 9.
155 Caley, E. R. and Richards, J. F. C., Theophrastus on Stones, Ohio State University (1956) 176–9.Google Scholar
156 IG ii 546.
157 Roman Mines 257.
158 BHZ (1850) 630.
159 Fiedler 91.
161 Op. cit. (n. 133).
162 BSRBG xx (1896) 181–225.
163 Bull. Geol. Soc. Greece ix (1972) 252–65.
164 Raman Mines 264.
165 AE (1899) 124.
167 The Geology of Greece No. 12 (1979) IGME, Athens.
171 MMG 146 no. 131.
172 MMG 144 no. 109; 145 no. 127; 146 no. 129; 147 no. 138.
174 Herodotus iii 57.
176 Pausanias x 11. 2.
177 Strabo x 5. 1.
179 Op. cit. (n. 133).
180 Fiedler 125–44.
181 Gale, N. H., Miscellanea Graeca fasc. 2 (Ghent, 1979) 9–60Google Scholar; Thera II (1980) 161–95.
183 Wagner, G. A., Gentner, W., Gropengiesser, H., and Gale, N. H., British Museum Occasional Paper XX (1980) 63–80.Google Scholar
184 JHS (1885) 195–8.
185 Le Musée belge vii (1903) 466–70.
186 All sherds are illustrated in Wagner et al. (n. 183).
187 MASCA Newsletter IX (1973) 1–20.
188 Details of the TL measurements are given in Wagner et al. (n. 183).
189 Op. cit. (n. 183).
190 Op. cit. (n. 35).
192 Thera I (1978) 529–45.
194 Barnes, I. L., Shields, W. R., Murphy, T. J., and Brill, R. H., Advances in Chemistry Series No. 138, American Chemical Society (1975) 1–10.Google Scholar
195 Op. cit. (n. 181).
196 Op. cit. (n. 35).
198 Op. cit. (n. 35).
199 Op. cit. (n. 183).
200 Miscellanea Graeca ii (1979) 9–60.
201 Op. cit. (n. 35).
202 AE (1898) 187.
204 Berg- und hüttenmännisches Jahrbuch (1864) 49.
205 Metalwork 63.
206 Early Mining 31–40.
208 Op. cit. (n. 58).
209 Early Mining 41–62.
211 Op. cit. (n. 207).
212 P. T. Craddock, Early Mining 165–73.
214 Op. cit. (n. 207).
215 Prehistory 135–42.
216 Le Laurion antique (Athens, 1980) 317–23.
217 Early Mining 41–62.
218 Op. cit. (n. 216) 283–93.
219 Early Mining 103–34.