Mystery of 8500-year-old copper-making event revealed through materials science – Science Daily

An international team of archaeological scientists have put an end to the more than half-a-century old claim about the earliest copper smelting event at the Late Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in central Turkey — one of the world’s best-studied prehistoric archaeological sites.

Scholars have been hotly debating the origins spread of metallurgy for decades, mainly due to the relationship this technology had with the rise of social complexity economy of the world’s first civilisations in the Near East.

Whether metallurgy was such an exceptional skill to have only been invented once or repeatedly at different locations is therefore still contentious. The proponents of the latter have just provided conclusive evidence of the incidental nature of what was held to be the key find for the single origin of metallurgy claim.

Published today in the Journal of Archaeological Science, the re-examination of a c. 8,500-year-old by-product from metal smelting, or ‘slag’, from the site of Çatalhöyük presents the conclusive reconstruction of events that led to the firing of a small hful of green copper minerals.

“From the beginning of our study it was clear that the small hful of ‘slag’ samples were only semi-baked. This indicated a non-intentional, or accidental copper firing event, but the ‘eureka’ moment of how why that happened arrived quite late,” says Dr Miljana Radivojevic, lead author researcher at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge.

“The co-authors had a lengthy debate about why the semi-baked copper minerals were
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