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The metallic finds from Çatalhöyük: a review and preliminary new work

Authors:
  • Moesgaard Museum
  • Curt Engelhorn Zentrum Archäometrie and University of Heidelberg

Abstract and Figures

The metallic artifacts from Çatalhöyük are of particular importance as they constitute some of the earliest examples known. Metal inds have been recovered from as early as Level IX (South K), spanning to Level II, with VII and VI (South M-O) being the most productive (Mellaart 1964, 111). Radiocarbon dating of the archaeological sequence at Çatal-höyük suggests an occupation phase from c.7400–6200 cal BC, which was further reined by a programme of AMS ra-diocarbon dating to the range c.7400–5600 BC (Bronk Ram-sey et al. 2009; Cessford 2001; 2005c; Mellaart 1964). The concentration of metallic inds from Levels South M-O has been dated to c.6600–6450 BC. Despite receiving a great deal of attention, very little research has been conducted on these inds (Neuninger et al. 1964; Sperl 1990). Starting a new approach, three Neolithic copper-based artifacts from recent excavations were selected for further investigation. Before introducing the study of these artifacts, a brief overview will be presented of evidence for early metallurgy in Anatolia in order to contextualize the inds from Çatalhöyük. The inds from Mellaart's excavations will be reviewed before introducing those resulting from recent excavations. Finally, the preliminary investigation into the three copper-based artifacts will be presented with a discussion of the results.
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The metallic artifacts from Çatalhöyük are of particular im-
portance as they constitute some of the earliest examples
         
  

-
    c.
 -
c.-
sey et al. 
  
c.

et al.
      
       

-
     
       
 -


the results.

Çatalhöyük
-

-
et al.
   
et al. 
-



-

     


The earliest evidence for metal use

et al.

   
-
         
         
Çemi

-
          
et al.


 
     



      
        
     -
         -
-



         

    



         
       

Chapter 17



In: I. Hodder (ed) 2013: Substantive Technologies at Catalhöyük
Volume 9: Substantive Technologies at Çatalhöyük: Reports from the 2000–2008 Seasons


     

et al. 
       



Earliest evidence for extractive metallurgy
-


     -
-
et al.
   
-



      th millennium
-

      Çatalhöyük are
       
  
 et al.
-

et al. 

et al.

-

     
-


et al.
Copper sources
       


      

-
 -


 
Sample Analysis Cu As Ag Bi Total
all in wt%
7575.x17-S2
198.9 0.028 0.040 bdl 99.0
296.8 0.028 bdl 0.022 96.9
397.2 0.025 0.057 0.020 97.4
497.4 0.015 0.047 bdl 97.5
598.5 0.023 0.064 bdl 98.6
697.3 bdl 0.028 0.006 97.3
798.4 bdl 0.023 bdl 98.5
898.2 0.077 0.017 0.024 98.3
997.4 0.087 0.076 bdl 97.5
10 98.1 0.021 0.021 bdl 98.1
Average 97.8 0.030 0.037 0.007 97.9
13079.x3-S1
195.9 0.004 bdl bdl 95.9
299.1 bdl 0.003 bdl 99.2
396.8 bdl 0.017 0.033 96.9
496.2 0.012 0.003 0.040 96.2
596.1 bdl 0.010 0.020 96.2
696.7 0.092 0.014 bdl 96.8
794.9 0.025 0.044 bdl 95.0
895.7 bdl bdl bdl 95.7
996.6 bdl bdl bdl 96.6
10 97.2 bdl bdl bdl 97.3
Average 96.5 0.013 0.009 0.009 96.6
13079.x3-S2
196.6 0.058 bdl 0.005 96.7
297.1 bdl 0.021 bdl 97.1
396.1 0.049 bdl bdl 96.2
497.6 bdl 0.037 0.069 97.7
595.1 0.066 bdl bdl 95.2
697.3 0.001 0.007 0.003 97.3
799.4 bdl 0.001 0.037 99.5
896.1 0.033 bdl 0.032 96.2
995.9 bdl bdl 0.046 95.9
10 95.0 0.037 0.021 bdl 95.0
Average 96.6 0.024 0.009 0.019 96.7
Table 17.1. Raw EPMA-WDS data for each spot analysis
conducted on the metal phase for each sample.

Table 17.2. Individual LA-ICPMS
analyses of samples 7575.x17 and
13079.x3. All values are expressed
as elements in µg/g. Signals unex-
pectedly high in iron and other ele-
ments are thought to include cor-
rosion material (asterisked). Co,
Ni, Pt and Bi were analysed and
routinely found only at levels of
less than 1 µg/g, with the exception
of two individual measurements
of 1.4 µg/g Pt in sample 7575.x17
(analysis d2 and e2).
Sample Analysis Fe Zn As Se Ag Sn Sb Te Pb
all in μg/g
7575-X17-S2
a* 35 <5 750 12.6 11 <1 1.5 4.2 3.9
b* 180 7 990 9.9 <1 <1 1.6 7.3 10.4
c* 77 6 1100 12.2 <1 <1 1.7 8.2 6.3
d1 <5 <5 15 7.0 390 <1 1.2 5.4 <1
d2 <5 <5 17 10.0 450 <1 1.2 6.5 <1
e1 <5 <5 <1 7.8 340 <1 1.0 8.8 <1
e2 <5 <5 <1 <5 380 <1 <1 11.6 <1
f <5 <5 1 8.7 330 <1 1.1 9.0 <1
g <5 <5 2.9 11.0 300 <1 1.0 8.4 <1
h <5 <5 10 9.3 300 <1 1.5 10.5 <1
i <5 <5 3.1 8.1 320 <1 1.1 3.9 <1
j <5 <5 12 8.8 380 <1 1.2 5.4 <1
k1 <5 <5 <1 9.0 265 16 1.2 <5 <1
k2 <5 <5 3.9 11.4 2500 37 1.8 11.6 <1
l <5 <5 5.3 7.4 320 1.4 1.5 8.3 <1
m <5 <5 120 8.5 420 11 1.5 8.9 <1
n <5 <5 25 8.2 530 1.3 1.4 5.2 <1
o <5 <5 1 8.7 330 <1 1.1 9.0 <1
p <5 <5 2.9 11.0 300 <1 1.0 8.4 <1
-1 <5 <5 10 9.3 300 <1 1.5 10.5 <1
-2 <5 <5 3.1 8.1 320 <1 1.1 <5 <1
-3 <5 <5 12 8.8 380 <1 1.2 5.4 <1
-4 <5 <5 <1 9.0 265 16 1.2 <5 <1
-5 <5 <5 3.9 11.4 2500 37 1.8 11.6 <1
-6 <5 <5 5.3 7.4 310 1.4 1.5 8.3 <1
Median <5 <5 5.3 8.8 330 <1 1.2 8.4 <1
Sample Analysis Fe Zn As Se Ag Sn Sb Te Pb
all in μg/g
13079-X3-S1
a <5 <5 200 8.2 65 <1 1.1 6.8 <1
b <5 <5 120 10.1 65 <1 1.0 7.4 <1
c <5 <5 64 7.3 65 <1 <1 5.6 <1
d <5 <5 130 4.9 79 1.1 1.1 11.1 <1
e <5 <5 87 12.7 61 <1 1.2 9.7 <1
f <5 <5 120 6.9 74 <1 1.2 6.8 <1
g <5 <5 29 8.5 62 <1 <1 6.4 <1
h <5 <5 46 8.7 69 <1 1.1 7.2 <1
i <5 <5 92 10.7 76 <1 1.7 9.2 <1
Median <5 <5 92 8.5 65 <1 1.1 7.2 <1
13079-X3-S2
a <5 <5 210 7.9 81 <1 1.1 5.4 <1
b <5 <5 200 8.8 83 <1 1.1 5.9 <1
c <5 <5 210 8.5 75 <1 <1 5.8 <1
d <5 <5 16 8.0 90 2.6 1.3 6.2 <1
e <5 <5 35 10.6 110 13 <1 5.1 <1
f <5 <5 90 11.2 88 2.1 1.1 7.0 <1
g <5 <5 54 8.0 74 <1 1.3 6.9 <1
h <5 <5 92 10.7 76 <1 1.7 9.2 <1
i <5 <5 165 10.6 72 <1 1.3 6.2 <1
Median <5 <5 92 8.8 81 <1 1.3 6.2 <1
Volume 9: Substantive Technologies at Çatalhöyük: Reports from the 2000–2008 Seasons



    
ÇorumÇorum
Çorum 
-




        
-

      
  
          



     
      


       
-

   
-
      

-
 
 

          
   

          


  



 

        
 

-



     


      

-
       
     
 
      

    


-
-

  
        
-
     
    

    
Figure 17.1. Illustrations, showing the location of the sub-
samples obtained, with accompanying photographs of the

16248.x1 (for color version see CD).
Chapter 17: The Metallic Finds

Sample Image Location Cu OCl Ag S Si Total Formula
all in atom % (approx.)
7575.x17-S1 1
A (n=5) 50 50 99 CuCl
B (n=5) 69 29 1.5 0.5 97 Cu2O
C (n=5) 69 30 0.6 96 Cu2O
7575.x17-S2
2
A (n=3) 100 99 Cu
B (n=5) 69 31 97 Cu2O
C (n=5) 51 49 97 CuCl
D (n=5) 68 31 1.0 97 Cu2O
3
A (n=3) 69 31 98 Cu2O
B (n=3) 69 31 98 Cu2O
C (n=3) 50 50 99 CuCl
D (n=3) 100 99 Cu
E i 81 0.6 18.7 98 Cu-Ag
E ii 48 18.7 33 86 Cu-Ag-Cl
E iii 67 28 4.9 89 Cu-Ag-Cl
4 A 88 12.5 98 Cu-sulphide?
13079.x3-S1
5
A (n=5) 71 29 97 Cu2O
B (n=5) 50 0.7 50 96 CuCl
C (n=5) 71 28 1.4 95 Cu2O
D (n=3) 59 41 90 Cu-chloride?
6
A (n=3) 51 49 94 CuCl
B (n=3) 71 29 0.4 97 Cu2O
C (n=3) 100 99 Cu
13079.x3-S2
7A (n=5) 50 50 96 CuCl
B (n=5) 70 29 0.8 94 Cu2O
8
A (n=2) 50 50 97 CuCl
B (n=2) 68 31 0.8 95 Cu2O
C (n=3) 100 98 Cu
16248.x1-S2 9
A (n=2) 68 31 0.3 99 Cu2O
B (n=2) 21 53 0.3 25 89 CuSiO2
C (n=2) 36 47 17.6 93 Cu-oxy-chloride
D (n=2) 38 62 0.8 86 Cu-carbonate?
Table 17.3. Average EPMA-EDS data obtained from multiple area analyses from separate
phases (n=number of analyses).
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... However, these materials have never been fully assessed within their archaeological and technological context. The argument that the Neolithic Çatalh€ oyük communities were possibly smelting metal has, since then, been discussed controversially in the literature, from ardent support (Hauptmann et al., 1993;Hauptmann, 2000) to plain acceptance (Strahm, 1984) and more cautious reception (Muhly, 1989;Pernicka, 1990;Craddock, 2001;Roberts et al., 2009;Birch et al., 2013) to open scepticism (Tylecote, 1976;Radivojevi c et al., 2010). Against such a backdrop, a full re-analysis of the original metallurgical 'slag' from Çatalh€ oyük was the only way to resolve this enigma. ...
... The most recent analyses of three Neolithic copper beads from the East Mound by Birch et al. (2013) further attest the presence of copper metal artefacts on this site from levels II to VI, with a greater contextual precision (see Table S4 in Supplementary Materials). Five pieces of metal were analysed, belonging to three distinctive groups of fragmented beads and rings from both burial and infill/ dump deposit layers. ...
... 17.2). Given the low concentrations of trace elements such as cobalt, nickel, antimony and lead in these objects, it is argued that they were most likely made from native copper (Birch et al., 2013;cf. Pernicka et al., 1997). ...
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... Annealing leads to recrystallization of the metal and thus removes the stacking faults that make it brittle and the renders it ductile again. Such practice has been observed at several sites like Çayönü Tepesi, Aşıklı Höyük, Nevalı Çori, which date into the first half of the eighth millennium BCE, later also at Çatal Höyük (Birch et al., 2013;Özdoğan and Özdoğan, 1999;Yalçın and Pernicka, 1999;Esin, 1995). In the late eighth millennium BCE similar finds appear outside this core region from central to eastern Anatolia, like in Tell Ramad in southwest Syria (Golden, 2009) and in Ali Kosh in southwestern Iran (Pigott, 1999;Hole, 2000) and reach around 6000 BCE Mehrgarh in southwestern Pakistan (Kenoyer and Miller, 1999;Moulherat et al., 2002). ...
... The report of the first scientific investigation of this material was cautious and identified copper containing materials that indicated exposure to strong heat but nevertheless described it as metallurgical slag (Neuninger et al., 1964). In the following this find was discussed controversially in the literature, from ardent support (Hauptmann, 2000), via plain acceptance (Strahm 1984) and more cautious reception (Muhly, 1989;Pernicka, 1990;Craddock, 2001;Roberts et al., 2009;Birch et al., 2013) to open scepticism (Tylecote, 1976). Only recently new analyses have clarified the situation in that it was found that the small amount of 'slag' indeed matches the chemical and microstructural features known from very early smelting slag, including the formation of small prills of antimonial copper and of a range of copper and iron oxides in a semimolten and compositionally heterogeneous siliceous matrix. ...
... Until very recently, the assumed metallurgical activities at Çatalhöyük had stimulated scholarly debate due to an unusually early date, set at c. 6500 BC, for a find that appeared to display features of a metallurgical 'slag' (Cessford, 2005;Mellaart, 1964;Neuninger et al. 1964). The argument that the Neolithic Çatalhöyük communities were possibly smelting metal has since been discussed in the literature, and been both supported (Hauptmann, 2000;Hauptmann et al. 1993;Strahm, 1984) and called into significant question (Birch et al. 2013;Craddock, 2001;Muhly, 1989;Pernicka, 1990;Radivojević et al. 2010b;Roberts et al. 2009;Tylecote, 1976). A full re-analysis of the original metallurgical 'slag' from Çatalhöyük and revised contextualisation showed that this sample was a burnt copper mineral, probably deposited as a green pigment in a burial and subsequently baked during a destructive fire event in the dwelling in which it was discovered ). ...
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This paper analyses and re-evaluates current explanations and interpretations of the origins, development and societal context of metallurgy in the Balkans (c. 6200–3700 BC). The early metallurgy in this region encompasses the production, distribution and consumption of copper, gold, tin bronze, lead and silver. The paper draws upon a wide range of existing archaeometallurgical and archaeological data, the diversity and depth of which make the Balkans one of the most intensively investigated of all early metallurgical heartlands across the world. We focus specifically on the ongoing debates relating to (1) the independent invention and innovation of different metals and metal production techniques; (2) the analysis and interpretation of early metallurgical production cores and peripheries, and their collapses; and (3) the relationships between metals, metallurgy and society. We argue that metal production in the Balkans throughout this period reflects changes in the organisation of communities and their patterns of cooperation, rather than being the fundamental basis for the emergence of elites in an increasingly hierarchical society.
... Birch et al. 2013;Lehner and Yener 2014;Yalçın 2016;Erdoğu 2017. 2 Roberts et al. 2009, 1013 ...
... Globally, copper is the first metal manipulated by humans (Killick and Fenn 2012;La Niece et al. 2007;Martin 1999;Pigott 1999;Roberts and Thornton 2014;Tylecote 1992). In Old World contexts, the "Copper Age" begins in a manner similar to that seen in the New World-naturally occurring raw copper nuggets were cold hammered into small implements such as awls or beads (Pigott 1999;Rehren et al. 2013;Stech 1999). However, in contrast to the massive copper deposits found in Lake Superior region of North America, pure copper deposits were less abundant elsewhere, although small amounts of pure copper ore were available in all areas of the world where metallurgy developed (Patterson 1971). ...
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The copper-using cultures of North America’s Archaic Period (10,000–3000 BP) have long been an archaeological enigma. For millennia, Middle and Late Archaic hunter-gatherers (8000–3000 BP) around the Upper Great Lakes region made utilitarian implements out of copper, only for these items to decline in prominence and frequency as populations grew and social complexity increased during the Archaic to Woodland Transition. From a cultural evolutionary perspective, the trajectory of North America’s copper usage presents a conundrum, as it is generally assumed that “superior” tools, i.e., metals, will replace inferior ones, i.e., stone. For well over a century, scholars have pondered the reason for the demise of copper technology that was once a wide-spread phenomenon. To address this question, an extensive archaeological experimental program was conducted which compared replica copper tools (spear points, knife blades, and awls) to analogous ones made of stone or bone to assess whether relative functional efficiency contributed to the decline of utilitarian copper implements. Here, the results of this three-part research program are presented in concert with population dynamics and ecological change to paint a broader picture of the complex interrelationships between the social, ecological, and technological spheres of past human behaviors. The synthesis of these approaches reveals that functional explanations—derived from experimental archaeology placed in an evolutionary framework—can shed much light on the trajectory of metal use in the North American Great Lakes.
... 1 1 The invention of metallurgy is not the subject of this paper. However, it is important to stress that their cutting-edge properties were not discovered with the first manipulation of metals, mainly used for the production of beads and pendants (e.g., Birch et al. 2013), but were exploited only after the development of smelting, melting, and casting. At the beginning of its history, metallurgy was not comparable with the lithic system, and their "antagonism" emerged only after a functional convergence. ...
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It has long been known that leaded bronze, an alloy consisting primarily of copper with the addition of tin and lead, was widely used in early China, starting from around the second millennium BC. The additional lead distinguishes this metal from common bronze, the copper-tin binary alloy, used by most other Early Metal Age civilisations in Eurasia. The reasons behind the use of leaded bronze have not been fully examined in previous literature. In this thesis, the discussion of metallurgical technologies and the studies on material properties are combined with four case studies of early metal-using communities to reinvestigate the use of leaded bronze in early China. With this approach, the thesis challenges the wide held notion that lead was consciously added by the craftspeople, mainly to facilitate the casting. Instead, I argue that the widespread of leaded bronze objects was mainly due to both the socio-economic concerns in making bronze ritual vessels in Central China and the recycling and reuse of the metals by other communities around Central China. Moreover, the seemingly common use of leaded bronze does not reflect a uniform acceptance of a single set of knowledge and know-how. Rather, people in different communities responded differently to this new material and chose to engage it in different ways. This study on leaded bronze provides us with a new perspective to recognise the complexity and diversity of technology and material culture in early Chinese communities. Meanwhile, through the active discussion on the theoretical frameworks and research methods for archaeometallurgy and material culture studies, I also suggest approaches which may be useful in future studies of early metallurgy and other craft production.
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The scholarly quest for the origins of metallurgy has focused on a broad region from the Balkans to Central Asia, with different scholars advocating a single origin and multiple origins, respectively. One particular find has been controversially discussed as the potentially earliest known example of copper smelting in western Eurasia, a copper ‘slag’ piece from the Late Neolithic to Chalcolithic site of Çatalhöyük in central Turkey. Here we present a new assessment of metal making at Çatalhöyük based on the re-analysis of minerals, mineral artefacts and high-temperature materials excavated in the 1960s by J. Mellaart and first analysed by Neuninger, Pittioni and Siegl in 1964. This paper focuses on copper-based minerals, the alleged piece of metallurgical slag, and copper metal beads, and their contextual relationship to each other. It is based on new microstructural, compositional and isotopic analyses, and a careful re-examination of the fieldwork documentation and analytical data related to the c. 8500 years old high-temperature debris at Çatalhöyük. We re-interpret the sample identified earlier as metallurgical slag as incidentally fired green pigment, which was originally deposited in a burial and later affected by a destructive fire that also charred the bones of the interred body. We also re-confirm the contemporary metal beads as made from native metal. Our results provide a new and conclusive explanation of the previously contentious find, and reposition Çatalhöyük in a new narrative of the multiple origins of metallurgy in the Old World.
Thesis
It has long been known that Anatolia (approximately present day Turkey) participated actively in diverse aspects of metallurgy from as early as the Neolithic period. This thesis treats various facets of the metallurgical industry from its outset in the 7th millennium B.C.to the end of the Early Bronze Age (ca. 2000 B.C.) It collects together much of the geological data pertaining to the metalliferous ores of gold, silver, arsenic, and copper. Subjects also discussed are the methods of mining and smelting. Concomitant with these is a report on surveys made by the author (under the auspices of the Turkish Mineral Exploration and Research institute) on the location of early mining and smelting sites in Turkey. Analyses of slag and ore are included in the Appendices and Catalogues. The metalwork itself is presented in Catalogue form, and full reference is made to all the prehistoric Anatolian metalwork which has been analyzed. Based on the above data, the development of the metallurgical industry as a whole is viewed over the course of 5 millennia. Many more copper deposits, unknown to archaeologists and historians, are brought to light i n this study. The presence of these deposits allows us now to widen our scope of the development of the metallurgical industry, Instead of seeing it as dependent on a few major deposits such as Ergani, Murgul and Kastamonu, we can now reserve the option of offshoots and separate development in different areas of Anatolia. The metalwork, in fact, suggest this, though it does not become apparent until EB 11, from when the bulk of our documents dates. Earlier material is not lacking and does suggest an even more dispersed series of local metallurgies.. Chalcolithic metallurgies were probably loosely associated, perhaps by sharing common sources, but they still appear to have remained culturally distinct. It was the coming together of the Chalcolithic cultures that provided the prolific metallurgical development witnessed in EB 11 and EB 111.
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The work this year at Can Hasan took place, as usual, in the autumn. Excavation began on 6th September and finished on 10th October. A further week was spent on the detailed work of planning, photography and pottery study. We employed this year, as in previous years, Veli Karaaslan as foreman, Rifat Çelimli, Mustafa Duman, and Bekir Kalaycı as ustas; from Menteş, we employed three men and from Canasun village five men. During the season, parts of the excavated area, which had not been completely covered, were filled in with earth from this year's excavation. At the end of the season only those areas where further work is planned remained open. The fence, of posts and wire, was repaired. The watchman now lives in the dig-house on the edge of the mound. For this year there was a staff of twelve: Messrs. N. H. S. Kindersley, D. C. Biernoff, R. W. Dutton, S. Payne, and J. E. Reade, field assistants; Mr. I. J. Walls, architect; Mrs. D. C. Biernoff and the Misses M. A. White, T. Martin, V. Pemberton-Piggott, P. M. Pratt, and R. J. Worth, house assistants. In addition, Mr. Kindersley worked on photography and planning, Mr. Dutton assisted the architect, Mr. Biernoff took charge of the bone material and Mr. Payne of the obsidian. Mrs. Biernoff, Miss White, Miss Martin and Miss Pratt were conservators. Bay Hayrettin Solmaz of the Konya Museum represented the Turkish Government.