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A new seriation and chronology for early Italian metalwork, 4500 - 2100 BC

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Cristiano Iaia, Professor Andrea Dolfini



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria, 2022.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


The article discusses an original seriation and chronology for prehistoric Italian metalwork, c.4500-2100 BC, which the authors developed as part of the EU-funded TEMPI project, 2015-2017. The research is grounded in a critical reclassification of early copper-alloy axes, daggers and halberds; a reassessment of metal-rich burial assemblages from northern and peninsular Italy, organised into geographically and chronological coherent groupings; and an evaluation and Bayesian statistical modelling of radiocarbon dates from metal-rich burials, integrated by fresh AMS determinations and typological comparisons with selected non-Italian metalwork. Thus reassessed and modelled, the data have enabled these authors to suggest that early Italian metalwork could newly be organised into five discrete horizons, charting the evolution of copper-alloy technology and object design over two and a half millennia. The research significantly contributes to a 50-year-long debate that has engaged some of the foremost specialists in later Italian prehistory and provides solid ground on which future research on early Italian metallurgy can be built.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Iaia C, Dolfini A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Rivista di Scienze Preistoriche

Year: 2022

Volume: 71

Pages: epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 28/03/2022

Acceptance date: 22/10/2021

Date deposited: 17/12/2021

ISSN (print): 0035-6514

ISSN (electronic): 2282-457X

Publisher: Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria


DOI: 10.32097/1151

Notes: 1 year embargo from publication. Supplementary material available from


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Funder referenceFunder name
657211European Commission