Late Neolithic Italy was home to complex networks of metal exchange

Related Articles

Related Articles

During the 4th and 3rd millennia BC, Italy was home to complex networks of metalwork exchange, according to a studyby Andrea Dolfini of Newcastle University (UK), and Gilberto Artioli and Ivana Angelini of the University of Padova (Italy).

Research in recent decades has revealed that copper mining and metalwork in Italy began earlier and included more complex technologies than previously thought. However, relatively little is known about metalwork exchange across the country, especially south of the Alps. In this study, Dolfini and colleagues sought to understand how commonly and how widely copper was imported and exchanged throughout Late Neolithic (Copper Age) Italy.

The researchers conducted an analysis of 20 copper items, including axe-heads, halberds, and daggers, from central Italy dating to the Copper Age, between 3600 and 2200 BC. Comparing archaeological data and chemical signatures of these items to nearby sources of copper ore, as well as to other prehistoric sites, they were able to determine that most of the examined objects were cast from copper mined in Tuscany, with the rest sourced from the western Alps and possibly the French Midi.

 

These results not only confirm the importance of the Tuscan region as a source of copper for Copper Age communities in Italy, reaching as far as the Tyrolean area home of the Alpine Iceman, but also reveal the unexpected finding that non-Tuscan copper was a significant import to the region at this time. These data contribute to a growing picture of multiple independent networks of Copper Age metal exchange in the Alps and neighboring regions. The authors note that future research might uncover other early sources of copper, as well as more details of the interactions between these early trade networks.

The authors add: “The first systematic application of lead isotope analysis (a geological sourcing technique) to Copper Age metal objects from central Italy, 3600-2200 BC, has shed new light on the provenance of the copper used to cast them. The research has revealed that, while some of the copper was sourced from the rich ore deposits of Tuscany, as was expected, some is from further afield. This unforeseen discovery demonstrates that far-reaching metal exchange networks were in operation in prehistoric Europe over a thousand years before the Bronze Age.”

PLOS

Header Image – Articulated burial and dismembered human remains from Ponte San Pietro, tomb 22. The chamber tomb is typical of the Rinaldone burial custom, central Italy, c.3600-2200 BC. Reprinted from Miari 1995 under a CC BY licence, with permission from Monica Miari, original copyright 1995. Credit : Dolfini et al, 2020

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Some Dinosaurs Could Fly Before They Were Birds

New research using the most comprehensive study of feathered dinosaurs and early birds has revised the evolutionary relationships of dinosaurs at the origin of birds.

Searching the Ancient Depths of a Reptilian Genome Yields Insight into all Vertebrates

Scientists searching the most ancient corners of the genome of a reptile native to New Zealand found patterns that help explain how the genomes of all vertebrates took shape, according to a recently published study.

Researchers Unlock Secrets of the Past With New International Carbon Dating Standard

Radiocarbon dating is set to become more accurate than ever after an international team of scientists improved the technique for assessing the age of historical objects.

New Findings Dispel the View That Australia’s First Peoples Were ‘Only Hunter Gatherers’

Archaeologists at The Australian National University (ANU) have found the earliest evidence of Indigenous communities cultivating bananas in Australia.

Bones Recently Found on the Isle of Wight Belong to a New Species of Theropod Dinosaur

A new study by Palaeontologists at the University of Southampton suggests four bones recently found on the Isle of Wight belong to new species of theropod dinosaur, the group that includes Tyrannosaurus rex and modern-day birds.

Cremation in the Middle-East Dates as Far Back as 7,000 B.C.

The gender of the human remains found inside a cremation pyre pit in Beisamoun, Israel remains unknown. What is known is that the individual was a young adult injured by a flint projectile several months prior to their death in spring some 9,000 years ago.

Academics Develop New Method to Determine the Origin of Stardust in Meteorites

Meteorites are critical to understanding the beginning of our solar system and how it has evolved over time.

Primate Voice Boxes are Evolving at a Rapid Pace

Scientists have discovered that the larynx, or voice box, of primates is significantly larger relative to body size, has greater variation, and is under faster rates of evolution than in other mammals.

Popular stories

Port Royal – The Sodom of the New World

Port Royal, originally named Cagway was an English harbour town and base of operations for buccaneers and privateers (pirates) until the great earthquake of 1692.

Matthew Hopkins – The Real Witch-Hunter

Matthew Hopkins was an infamous witch-hunter during the 17th century, who published “The Discovery of Witches” in 1647, and whose witch-hunting methods were applied during the notorious Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts.

Did Corn Fuel Cahokia’s Rise?

A new study suggests that corn was the staple subsistence crop that allowed the pre-Columbian city of Cahokia to rise to prominence and flourish for nearly 300 years.

The Real Dracula?

“Dracula”, published in 1897 by the Irish Author Bram Stoker, introduced audiences to the infamous Count and his dark world of sired vampiric minions.