Metals are a big part of society and have beenĀ used for over 5000 years. They have been used to produce a range of objects, from purely decorative objects to vital tools for crafts. Nowadays a range of different metals and alloys are used, but in the past there were fewer metals to choose from but ancient metalworkers often utilised the specific properties of the metals, and some metals had specific roles in societies. The technologies used to smelt and ultimately craft these metals have been studied by archaeometallurgists.

The main metals that were used in the past include Gold, Silver, Copper, Bronze (tin, antimony and arsenical), Brass, Lead, Gunmetal, Pewter, Iron and Steel, although other metals were also used. Some metals are found in the natural state, i.e. gold and copper, while others need to be smelted from ores in furnaces. Ancient metalworkers also realised that metals could be alloyed to improve the properties of the metal (i.e. iron and carbon alloyed to produce steel) and/or change the colour (adding zinc to copper to produce brass). Many of the metals could be melted and then cast to produce objects but some like iron and steel had to be forged.

I can provide a course that outlines the discovery and development of metallurgy from the earliest use of native metals and the impact of metallurgy on cultural dynamics. Important technological developments in both ferrous and non-ferrous will be highlighted. The focus will be on the metallurgical process including ore mining, smelting, refining and object manufacture and evidence for technological processes in the archaeological record.

  • The metallurgical process: ore to artefact
  • Copper Alloys
  • Iron and steel
  • Precious Metals
  • Pewter & Lead
  • Pioneering metallurgy: major events in the development of metallurgy
  • Metallurgy in the archaeological record: furnaces, smelting, crucibles, refining, forging and casting
  • Analysis of metal artefacts and metallurgical waste products

Practical exercises in assessing debris from early metalworking processes can also be provided and students will be introduced to analysis techniques used to learn more about these assemblages. Short courses or individual lectures on specific topics can also be provided.