For many years, archaeologists and archaeometallurgists have suggested that recycled copper might have constituted a significant component of the metal in circulation in Britain during the first millennium AD. They have generally failed, however, to suggest a way of observing and quantifying this phenomenon. Here the authors propose a new methodology to rectify this. A large new database of chemical analyses of British copper alloys dating from the late Iron Age to the early medieval period demonstrates the potential of their approach; it shows that significant and measureable changes occur in metal circulation at the beginning of the first century AD and in the early Saxon period.
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