Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Metal Age Furnaces Near Hanoi

Nearby in Cambodia we have a locale on the Mekong in which both copper and tin coexist.  This makes it one of the best prospects for the original invention of bronze itself.  Whereas brass could have been formulated anywhere, this locale in particular was auspicious for bronze.

Such a ready supply fed the local metal working towns as this site demonstrates for likely centuries and the metal so produced would have found its way throughout China and even into India.

Once again, never rely on apparent provenance when looking at bronze artifacts.  All bronze was subjected to continuous remelting with reblending through reproduction.  Thus all extant pieces typically reflect the latest transformation.

A great example is Incan bronze whose evidential provenance suggests everything was made directly in the century preceding the conquest.  Yet archeology is slowly pushing it all back to direct contact with the European Bronze Age.

The danger is that most sites properly age out on the time of cessation for the bronze itself.

Archaeologists unearth Metal Age furnaces

 Updated May, 22 2010

Smelting worksho: Ancient copper furnaces discovered at the Dinh Trang archaeological site and some metal weapons (above) also unearthed at the site. — VNS Photos Kieu Trinh

HA NOI — Ancient copper furnaces recently unearthed at an archaeological site in Dong Anh, in the north of Ha Noi, have shed important light on the Metal Age, according to archaeologists.

"This site was a bronze casting workshop, with dozens of furnaces, which we have found during seven excavations here since 1971," said Lai Van Toi, from the Viet Nam Archaeology Institute.

Among artefacts found at the site are copper objects, cinders, broken pieces of pottery, pans and tripods – which were probably part of a traditional kitchen.

Most of the furnaces, which are believed to be about 4,000 years old, were aligned along a northwest to southeast axis and evenly spaced. They were also of similar design.

Archaeologists believe the furnaces were aligned like this so that they would catch the wind.

"In a 300sq.m area, we found many furnaces," said Prof Han Van Khan, from Ha Noi Social Sciences and Humanity University, who has also been excavating the site. This is not an ordinary family kitchen but a workshop for smelting metal.

"Copper may have been smelted here to make large objects," he said, adding that each of the two lines of furnaces may have been part of two separate workshops.

The second major Metal Age (Bronze Age to early Iron Age) site is in Dinh Trang in the northern province of Vinh Phuc.

At the Dinh Trang Site, archaeologists unearthed two human skeletons.

Prof Khan, who worked on the site in 1988, said that the people of the Dong Son civilisation (2,000 BC-200 AD) lived around two large hills that have since been eroded.

Archaeologists said they had found an earthwork belonging to the Go Mun (2,500-2,000 BC) and Dong Son civilisations, which came after the Dong Dau (4,000-2,500 BC) and Phung Nguyen (5,000-4,000 BC).

Archaeologists believe the site was a defensive fortification of the Loa Thanh Citadel as six previous excavations had unearthed numerous tombs containing metal weapons. Skeletons buried with spears were thought to have been soldiers. Archaeologists also found children's skeletons, which suggested that civilians also lived in the area.

"Dinh Trang is an important Metal Age archaeological site. It contains artefacts from the early Bronze Age to the early Iron Age," Khan said. — VNS

No comments: