Middle Bronze Age Arsenical Copper Alloys in Southern Portugal

P. Valério, A. M M Soares, M. F. Araújo, R. J C Silva, L. Baptista

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In the Iberian Peninsula, the copper metallurgy from the Chalcolithic to the Middle Bronze Age (MBA) was mostly characterized by low arsenic contents. A collection of 53 MBA artefacts from southern Portugal was analysed by micro-EDXRF, optical microscopy, SEM-EDS and Vickers to investigate the metal composition and manufacture. No technological distinction was found between artefacts from domestic and funerary contexts, which were radiocarbon-dated to 2000-1500 cal bc. The arsenic contents of almost 100 MBA artefacts from this region, including the above-mentioned set, have a Gaussian distribution with a high average (3.9 wt% As). Possible explanations are discussed for this distinctive metallurgy at the south-western end of the Iberian Peninsula.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1003-1023
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • Arsenical copper alloy
  • Chalcolithic
  • Manufacture
  • Middle Bronze Age (MBA)
  • Western Iberia


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