Early metallurgy in SE Iberia. The workshop of Las Pilas (Mojacar, Almeria, Spain)

Murillo-Barroso, Mercedes; Martinon-Torres, Marcos; Camalich Massieu, Ma Dolores; Martin Socas, Dimas; Molina Gonzalez, Fernando

VL / 9 - BP / 1539 - EP / 1569
Big narratives on the role of metallurgy in social change and technological innovations are common in archaeology. However, informed discussion of these issues requires a contextualised characterisation of metallurgical technology at the local level in its specific social and technological contexts. This paper approaches early metallurgy in Iberia from a technological perspective. We focus on the site of Las Pilas in the Vera Basin (Mojacar, Almeria, Spain), where the whole metallurgical chane operatoire has been documented in situ through archaeological excavation of a third millennium BC context. The study includes microstructural, mineralogical and chemical analyses of ores, slag, technical ceramics and finished artefacts, as well as domestic pottery used for comparative purposes. These results are discussed with reference to the archaeological context and evidence for other domestic activities and crafts. Our aim is to contribute to better characterise the early metallurgical tradition of Southeast Iberia, paying particular attention to specific technological tools, knowledge and recipes that may allow future comparative approaches to knowledge transmission or independent innovation debates. For this particular case, we demonstrate the direct production of arsenical copper in a low-scale, low-specialisation, low-efficiency set up that involved the crucible smelting of complex oxidic ores in a context that suggests associations with cereal roasting and, indirectly, with basket and pottery making.

Access level