Tin and Bronze Production at the Outeiro de Baltar Hillfort (NW Iberia)

Elin Figueiredo, Alexandra Rodrigues, João Fonte, Emmanuelle Meunier, Filipa Dias, Alexandre Lima, José Alberto Gonçalves, Luís Gonçalves-Seco, Filipe Gonçalves, Manuel F. C. Pereira, Rui J. C. Silva, João P. Veiga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Findings of Iron Age metallurgical activities related to tin metal and mining are very rare. In the present work, we present a detailed study of the Outeiro de Baltar hillfort, dated to the Late Iron Age/Early Roman period, located in a place where 20th century tin mining work took place. Elemental and microstructural analysis by portable, micro and wavelength dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (pXRF, micro-XRF and WDXRF) and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersion spectrometer (SEM-EDS) showed that metallurgical debris found at the archaeological site is related to tin smelting and binary and ternary bronze productions. Analysis of the artefacts of diverse typologies found at the site showed that a variety of metals and alloys were in circulation and use. Samples of tin ores (cassiterite) from the region were analyzed for comparison with an archaeological tin slag from the site. The analytical results point to the production of tin metal using local cassiterite and the production of bronze by directly adding cassiterite into a smelting process. Furthermore, data of remote sensing (airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and historical aerial imagery) and Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping were combined with archival mining documentation and maps to retrieve a landscape context for the site. The study showed that the place of the Outeiro de Baltar hillfort (NW Iberia) was mined periodically over time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number758
JournalMinerals
Volume12
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • archaeometallurgy
  • bronze
  • cassiterite
  • Early Roman period
  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Iron Age
  • mining
  • tin

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