The distinctive grave goods from Palhais (Beja, Portugal). New insights into the metallurgical evolution under Orientalizing influence in the southwestern end of Iberia

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Grave goods from the Early Iron Age necropolis of Palhais offers a unique opportunity to study the metallurgy introduced in Southern Portugal by Orientalizing influence. Metals include two sets of instruments for body grooming, an “Alcores fibula” and a belt-lock, whose typology and/or decoration shows an Orientalizing inspiration. The composition and manufacture of artefacts is determined by conventional EDXRF, Micro-EDXRF, SEM-EDS, optical microscopy and Vickers microhardness testing. Elemental compositions indicate low tin bronzes (4.4 ± 2.4%) evidencing significant use of scrap as inexpensive raw-material or intentional alloying with low tin amounts for economical or technological reasons. Post-casting work involved hammering and annealing operations showing that these grave goods were produced as functional artefacts. A comparison with Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age artefacts from Southern Portugal shows that the low tin contents are common among the Phoenician bronzes. Moreover, an assessment of the coeval metals from the Southwestern Iberian Peninsula identifies other features of the Orientalizing metallurgy, such as an increase in unalloyed coppers and leaded bronzes, which can be related to the diversification of the bronze production methods during this period.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)361-371
JournalTrabajos de Prehistoria
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

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