Paper presented at the IV Archaeometallurgy in Europe (Madrid 2015)

Archaeometallurgy in Europe International Conference is being organized every four years since 2003, in Milan (2003), Grado-Aquileia (2007) and Bochum (2011). The Madrid Edition to be held in June 2015 represents the consolidation of the most important forum for scientific discussion on early metalworking in Europe and far abroad.

Paper presented: AARON LACKINGER, ELIN FIGUEREDO, BEATRIZ COMENDADOR, RUI J.C. SILVA & JOSÉ MIRÃO: An experimental approach for smelting tin ores from Northwestern Iberia.

ABSTRACT11401103_10204990384176205_6976209282688675527_n (1)

The Northwestern Iberian Peninsula represents the most extensive area with tin ore deposits
available in the ancient world. In the present work, field experiences developed for smelting tin ores
from some Northwestern Iberian deposits will be presented, by processes that could have been
performed in pre and proto-historic times. These experiences have been performed after an initial
experimental approach for obtaining bronze by one of the proposed models: the co-reduction of
copper and tin ores (Rovira et al, 2009; Lackinger et al 2013), to gain knowledge, through
experimental methods, about the chaîne opératoire of bronze production in Northwestern peninsular
prehistory—a region where signs of early metallurgical production have since long been recognized.

Besides providing a real and experimental feedback of difficulties or facilities that such an operation
could have implicated, experimenting with Iberian tin will also provide materials from the complete
chaîne opératoire that can be subjected to analytical studies, such as elemental, microstructural and
possibly isotopic ones, to provide specific signatures or fractioning data from ores to the various
metallurgical products, including slags and metal. The results of these studies will also be valuable
to correlate with archaeological metallurgical remains which are frequently of difficult interpretation.
These experimental works are performed in the larger framework of the Early Tin in Northwestern
Iberia – Cassiteros Group, generally intended to contribute to the investigation of evidences and
correlations among possible exploitations of the Iberian tin mineral deposits and tin and bronze
artefact productions of the third to first millennia BC. This can contribute to the understanding of the
advent of the first bronzes and their rapid generalization during Bronze Age in the Iberian Peninsula
and among various European regions, possibly bringing some more details to ancient spheres of

Fonte, J., Comendador, B., Lackinger, A., Fernández, C., Figueiredo, E., Meunier, E. (in press).
Estaño y paisajes del agua en el noroeste peninsular. Actas de la Semana del Campus del Agua.
GEAAT. Universidad de Vigo.

Lackinger, A., Comendador, B., Figueiredo, E., Araújo, M.F., Silva, R., Rovira, S. (2013). “Copper +
Tin + People: Public Co-Smelting Experimentation in Northwestern Iberia” En, Proceedings of the
7th UK Experimental Archaeology Conference Cardiff 2013. EXARC Journal, 2013/3.

Rovira, S., Montero-Ruiz, I. and Renzi, M. (2009). Experimental co-smelting of copper-tin alloys. In:
Kienlin T.L. and Roberts, B. (eds.), Metals and Societies. Studies in honour of Barbara S. Ottaway.
Bonn, Universitätsforschungen zur prähistorischen Archäologie, 407-414.