Archaeology dating metal

19-Mar-2017 11:17 by 4 Comments

Archaeology dating metal

a silvery metal found in a well-sealed deposit on a 16th-century site should not be aluminum (and if analysis proved that it was aluminum, this would be an indication that the site had been disturbed).

Unfortunately it can be very difficult to determine the composition of archaeological artifacts.

Therefore, identifying an artifact and knowing its function can assist in identifying the metal(s) present.

For example, cast and wrought iron can be difficult to distinguish, but knowing the purpose of the artifact can assist in identifying which type of iron is present.

Very tough, resilient objects such as sword blades and axe heads are forged from steel and wrought iron; objects such as hollow shot (e.g.

mortar bombs, grenades) that are intended to shatter, or those for which brittleness is not a problem (e.g. In some instances the situation is reversed, and identifying the metal helps to identify the object.

" is one of the first and most frequent questions when an artifact is found.

As composition of an artifact is always related to its function, this information is fundamental to archaeological research.

Complicating the problem is the fact that most metal objects are composites of more than one type of metal, each type contributing its unique character to the whole.

Knowledge of the characteristics of various metals, when they were produced, and how they were used will help in identifying them (consult "Bibliography" for good sources of information).

For example, a highly corroded, broken coin from a 16th-century site in Canada was not positively identified as a coin until after it was identified as silver.

White metal is particularly difficult to identify in the field; tin, zinc, silver, chromium, and nickel have all been used as plating at different times in history.

Identifying the object will provide clues to the type of plating, e.g.