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Tainted ores and the rise of tin bronzes in Eurasia, c. 6500 years ago

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 November 2013

Miljana Radivojević
1UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31–34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, UK (Email: 2National Museum in Belgrade, Trg Republike 1a, 11 000 Belgrade, Serbia
Thilo Rehren
3UCL Qatar, a partner of Hamad bin Khalifa University, PO Box 25256, Doha, Qatar (Email:
Julka Kuzmanović-Cvetković
4Museum of Toplica, Ratka Pavlovića 11, 18 400 Prokuplje, Serbia (Email:
Marija Jovanović
5Museum of Vojvodina, Dunavska 35, 21 000 Novi Sad, Serbia (Email:
J. Peter Northover
6Department of Materials, University of Oxford, Begbroke Science Park, Oxford OX5 1PF, UK (Email:
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The earliest tin bronze artefacts in Eurasia are generally believed to have appeared in the Near East in the early third millennium BC. Here we present tin bronze artefacts that occur far from the Near East, and in a significantly earlier period. Excavations at Pločnik, a Vinča culture site in Serbia, recovered a piece of tin bronze foil from an occupation layer dated to the mid fifth millennium BC. The discovery prompted a reassessment of 14 insufficiently contextualised early tin bronze artefacts from the Balkans. They too were found to derive from the smelting of copper-tin ores. These tin bronzes extend the record of bronze making by c. 1500 years, and challenge the conventional narrative of Eurasian metallurgical development.

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