9th Experimental Archaeology Conference poster – Godino Teppati Losè

From Galena to Silver: a first attempt at experimental archaeology

Y. Godino (University of Florence) and L. Teppati Losè (University of Siena)

Archaeological research in the area of Piedmont resulted in the identification of 13 sites with characteristic features of metallurgic activity, which date between the 5th and 10th century A.D.: in 6 of them, archaeologists investigated different artisanal facilities whose purpose was the reduction of minerals.

The presence of specific archaeological markers (ingots, hemispherical and semi-finished lead bars, tools associated with goldsmiths) and the proximity of the settlements to the argentiferous lead deposits led to hypothesis of the existence of activities related to extraction of silver: these activities seem to be associated with the production of iron, a topic that has often been under the attention of researchers.

The experimentation carried out by the authors has the aim to demonstrate how the kind of structures documented in Early Medieval Piedmont could be useful both for reducing iron and for extracting silver from galena minerals. The work was focused on reconstructing the structure found in Misobolo (TO) and dated back to the 8th century
A.D.(CIMA 1986): iconographical sources led us to the reconstruction of two bellows in leather and wood; ceramic tuyeres were replicated recreating one of the two furnaces found during the excavation of Brescia – Santa Giulia of Brescia.

The experimentation was useful to document all the steps of the production cycle and to obtain a small quantity of metal; during the research we were able to achieve a better understanding of some particular aspects of the structure’s working principles.

CIMA M., 1986, Metallurgia in ambiente rurale al sito altomedievale di Misobolo, “Archeologia Medievale”, XIII, pg 173 – 189

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