International workshop “BRONZE AGE TIN – Geological sources, production, and distribution of tin in Bronze Age Eurasia” from 14 to 16 March 2018 at the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen in Mannheim, Germany

BRONZE AGE TIN is a multidisciplinary project funded by the European Research Council comprising archaeology, history, geochemistry, and geology, conducted by scientists from the University of Heidelberg and the Curt-Engelhorn-Zentrum Archäometrie in Mannheim.

The objective is to decipher the enigma of the origin of tin in the early bronzes by combining new archeological data and tin isotope ratios. These bronzes appear in a wide area stretching from the Aegean to the Persian Gulf, but this region is geologically devoid of any tin deposits.

The results of this research will be presented and discussed during four half-day sessions on geology and ore deposits, metallurgy and archaeology. In addition, there will be a welcome meeting on Wednesday evening, 14 March, a symposium dinner on Friday evening, 16 March, and the option for a tour through the Old City of Heidelberg on Saturday, 17 March 2018.

There will be only invited talks, but anyone interested is invited to participate. Use the links below for downloading the workshop programme and the registration form. Please send the completed registration form to the workshop office ( Details on the venue and the arrival will follow at the beginning of 2018.

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Workshop program
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Research Project Prehistoric Mining and Metallurgy in Uzbekistan

As part of the project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) at the Curt-Engelhorn-Centre Archaeometry gGmbH copper ores from different deposits in Uzbekistan are analysed with regard to their geochemical and lead isotopic composition. The aim of the project is, based on selective surveys and sampling of the ore deposits, the establishment of a data basis in order to investigate the potential of the Uzbek copper deposits in terms of their prehistoric exploitation. Continue reading

New research results regarding the Early Bronze Age chronology published

In the framework of an inter-disciplinary collaboration between the Heidelberg Academy of Science, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, the Curt-Engelhorn-Center for Archaeometry gGmbH and the University of Heidelberg, researchers have rewritten conventional knowledge about the Early Bronze Age in Central Europe. Based on 150 radiocarbon analyses, this large scale project sheds new light on the relative and absolute chronology of the Early Bronze Age and reveals new insights into the history of the Nebra Sky Disc.

The publication can be found here

and the press release here.

ERC-Project Bronze Age Tin (FP7/SP2-Ideas)

This multidisciplinary project comprising archaeology, history, geochemistry and geology aims at the decipherment of the enigma of the origin of a material that emerged in the third millennium BC and gave an entire cultural epoch its name, namely the alloy of copper and tin called bronze. While copper deposits are relatively widely distributed there are only very few tin deposits known in the Old World (Europe, the Mediterranean basin and southwest Asia). Since the late 19th century archaeologists have discussed the question of the provenance of tin for the production of the earliest bronzes without any definite answer. The enigma has even grown over the past decades, because it turned out that the earliest bronzes appear in a wide area stretching from the Aegean to the Persian Gulf that is geologically devoid of any tin deposits. There is tin in western and central Europe and there is also tin in central Asia. Thus, tin or bronze seems to have been traded over large distances but it is unknown in which direction.

Now a new method has become available that offers the chance to trace ancient tin via tin isotope signatures. It was found that the isotope ratios of tin exhibit small but measurable variations in nature making different tin deposits identifiable so that bronze objects can in principle be related to specific ore deposits. It is proposed to apply for the first time this new technology to characterize all known tin deposits in the Old World and relate them to bronze and tin artefacts of the third and second millennia BC. This groundbreaking interdisciplinary study will increase our understanding of Bronze Age metal trade beyond surmise and speculation with vast implications for the reconstruction of socio-economic relations within and between Bronze Age societies. The impact will be a major advance in our understanding of the earliest complex societies with craft specialization and the formation of cities and empires.