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The Emergence of Metallurgy in the Central Mediterranean Region: A New Model

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Andrea Dolfini


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This study seeks to discuss the origins and early spread of metal technology in the central Mediterranean region. Neolithic and Copper Age evidence of metal-working and metal-using is first reviewed. It is claimed in particular that copper tools were first used, and probably also made, south of the Alps in the late Neolithic, and that complex polymetallic metallurgy developed in the early Copper Age after a short-lived intensification phase in the final Neolithic. In the second section, current models explaining the emergence of metallurgy in this region are then discussed, and a new proposal is put forward. This claims that metal technology, coming from eastern Europe, was imported into the whole of the east-central alpine region in the third quarter of the fifth millennium BC. Thence, it would have swiftly spread throughout northern Italy, central Italy, and Sardinia, and would have reached Corsica, southern Italy, and Sicily somewhat later. Finally, it is argued that the Copper Age metalworking communities dwelling in the western part of the central Mediterranean, and especially those located in west-central Italy, would have played a key role in transmitting knowledge of extractive metallurgy further west in the late fourth millennium BC.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dolfini A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Archaeology

Year: 2013

Volume: 16

Issue: 1

Pages: 21-62

Print publication date: 01/02/2013

ISSN (print): 1461-9571

ISSN (electronic): 1741-2722

Publisher: Maney Publishing


DOI: 10.1179/1461957112Y.0000000023


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