Innovationen: technisch, sozial
Innovative Technologies and Social Change in Prehistory
Stefan Burmeister, Svend Hansen,
Michael Kunst and Nils Müller-Scheeßel (Eds.)
VIII, 282 Seiten mit 188 Abbildungen und 5 Tabellen
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Burmeister, Stefan / Hansen, Svend / Kunst, Michael / Müller-Scheeßel, Nils (Eds.):
Metal Matters ; Innovative Technologies and Social Change in Prehistory and Antiquity.
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(Menschen – Kulturen – Traditionen ; ForschungsCluster 2 ; Bd. 12)
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1 Maddin et al. 1991.
2 Roberts et al. 2009.
3 Ruiz Taboada – Montero 1999.
4 Rovira 2002a, 6; Barthelheim – Montero-Ruiz 2009, 9 – 10.
5 Hauptmann et al. 1996; Rovira – Ambert 2002.
6 Rovira 2004, 12.
Iberia: Technological Development of Prehistoric Metallurgy
Salvador Rovira and Ignacio Montero-Ruiz
Evidence for copper production dates back as early as the
local Middle Neolithic (5th millennium cal BC), that is, earlier
than in the surrounding countries. After a long hiatus, the
spread of metallurgy was well established in the first half of
the 3rd millennium cal BC. From the point of view of techno-
logy, this early metallurgy is characterized by working oxide
ores that were easy to reduce in open fire structures with the
use of smelting crucibles. The facet that makes the Iberian
Peninsula a singular place when compared to other European
and Eastern Mediterranean regions is that this very simple
metallurgical technology lasted without appreciable changes
up to pre-Roman times, despite the fact that other metallur-
gical advances such as tin-bronze making were accepted and
adapted very early to local needs. Some topics concerning
the main subject here (the primitive traits of the prehistoric
Iberian metallurgy) are discussed in this contribution.
Background for early metallurgy
The degree of skilfulness in the early use of metals in pre-
historic societies points towards at least two essential pre-
conditions: a) the existence of metal ore resources within the
geographical environment, in which these societies devel-
oped, and b) a certain degree of social and cultural complex-
ity for the »discovery« of the metal to be appreciated and to
advance its use. These pre-conditions seem to apply in view
of the findings of objects made of native copper in sites such
as Çäyonü Tepesi (Turkey), in a cultural horizon dated to the
Preceramic Neolithic in the 8th millennium BC.1 However, it
was a long way from the use of the first metal (native cop-
per in this case) to the inception of real metallurgy, during
which the prehistoric artisans had to learn about the physical
and chemical properties of the ores through empirical assays,
how to extract metal from them, as well as how to manipu-
late the metal to produce useful artefacts, thereby exploiting
the possibilities of shaping. Slags are the clearest archaeolog-
ical evidence for true metallurgy; the oldest finds of slags do
not seem to be earlier than the 6th millennium BC in the Near
The Iberian Peninsula appears to be no exception, al-
though at present we have no secure evidence of the use
of native copper. However, excavations at the site of Cerro
Virtud (Cuevas del Almanzora, Almería) apparently have re-
vealed a first metallurgy that would evolve into a full Neo-
lithic context.3 This site is located in the southeastern area of
Spain that bears abundant metal resources, which later led to
a flourishing Chalcolithic with sites like Los Millares (Santa Fe
de Mondújar, Almería) and Almizaraque (Cuevas del Alman-
zora, Almería), among others.
The Iberian Peninsula has abundant copper ore resources
in virtually all of its vast mountainous geography, the
majority being surface mineralisations. This must have pro-
vided favourable conditions for the initial spread of metal-
lurgy throughout the territory.4
The character of early copper as a replacement mate-
rial should be emphasized. Copper was not a new material
that, in principle, gave rise to new applications even in the
full Chalcolithic period and much later. Basically, it joined the
group of materials that covered the needs that the respective
society had already solved in other ways. This explains, on
the one hand, the utilitarian significance that would always
accompany metal in the Old World (in America things turned
out radically different), and on the other hand, the slow pace
from introduction of copper to substitution of other materi-
als such as bone and stone, whose employment led over
many years to the development of technologically highly re-
fined solutions, and whose functionality was initially not seen
to be superseded by copper.
Contrary to common belief, obtaining copper from ox-
ide minerals (cuprite, malachite, azurite) is a relatively simple
process. Among all the metals of »industrial« interest in pre-
history, ore-to-metal processing as in the case of copper re-
quires the lowest energy consumption, and the thermal and
chemical environment necessary is easily achievable. For this
reason copper was the first metal obtained by people using
pyrometallurgical processes, once they had acquired suffi-
cient knowledge about controlling fire. The little difficulty in
accomplishing the first links in the chaîne opératoire is archae-
ologically reflected in very simple metallurgical installations in
those places, in which it has been possible to study the oldest
remains of copper-obtaining debris.5 We call these early pro-
cesses »metalurgia de pucheros« (cooking-pot metallurgy),6
alluding to the use of unspecialised vessels as containers for
reducing the ores, heating upon open fires, as an antecedent
stage prior to the invention of the true metallurgical furnace.
Salvador Rovira and Ignacio Montero-Ruiz232
7 Consuegra et al. 2004; Capote et al. 2006.
8 Villalba et al. 1986; Bosch 2005.
9 The earlier date obtained from antler is 4090 ± 70 BP (OxA 1833).
10 de Blas 2005.
11 de Blas 2005, 197 – 198.
12 Rovira 2002b, 86, tab. 3; Hunt 2003.
13 Müller et al. 2004.
14 Montero Ruiz 2005.
These two sites are considered by the authors of the respective stu-
dies as establishments that were highly specialized in metallurgy
(Nocete et al. 2004; Nocete et al. 2008). However, the technological
level displayed by their materials and the proposed operative chains
are similar to those found in some Chalcolithic sites in Spain and in
other regions, which are considered linked to a primitive techno-
logy. Compare, for example, Rovira (2004) and Ambert et al. (2009)
and the technological considerations made by Hauptmann 2003. It
seems that the term »specialized« matches better with the quantita-
tive evaluation of the production rather than technological traits.
16 Nocete et al. 2008, 728, fig. 10.
17 Rovira 2002b; Sáez et al. 2003; Müller et al. 2004.
18 Hauptmann 2003, 460.
Technological characteristics of early mining and extractive metallurgy
Towards the end of the 4th millennium cal BC we find the
complete chaîne opératoire fully established on the Iberi-
an Peninsula, leading to the production of copper from its
ores. New raw materials came into play, which could be
obtained using mining techniques already known since
the Neolithic period, but applied to other materials such as
flint7 and variscite.8 However, there is no evidence for com-
plex copper mining until the first half of the 3rd millennium
cal BC, namely mine galleries such as those in the mining
complex of El Aramo9 (Asturias)10 (Fig. 1). It is likely that mo-
dern mining has erased the traces of prehistoric work, espe-
cially in large mining concessions exploited intensively or
in the many small outcrops that are scattered throughout
the Peninsula and have been operated as family-units until
In the mines of El Aramo, the best studied so far, the min-
eral (malachite) was extracted with the help of hammers and
picks made of stone and antler; there is clear evidence for
fire-setting.11 The use of fire-setting was certainly a new im-
provement compared to conventional mining techniques
documented for the Neolithic period.
In regard to the minerals worked, tests on a series of
samples from archaeological sites or from mines located
in the immediate surroundings indicate a clear preference
for high-grade ores such as copper oxides and carbonates,
which are often associated with arsenic (olivenite, conichal-
cita) and iron minerals (hematite, goethite).12 A few samples
of fahlores (a natural mixture of oxides and sulphides) have
All of these minerals are characteristic of the
upper parts of the ore bodies; therefore, it can be deduced
indirectly that their acquisition would not require technically
complex mining methods.
What was definitely novel to the technological repertoire
of prehistoric societies was to have reached the practical
knowledge needed to take advantage of the profitable trans-
formation of ore to metal, namely to cause a chemical reac-
tion that would allow the reduction of oxides into the corre-
Evidence of metallurgical activities that allow linking Cer-
ro Virtud (5th millennium cal BC) to Chalcolithic metallurgy of
the 3rd millennium cal BC are quite scarce indeed, yet they
do exist. A thorough review of them with regard to south-
eastern Spain can be found in the study by Montero Ruiz.14
In the first half of the 3rd millennium cal BC copper metallur-
gy was fully established in sites such as Cabezo Juré (Alosno,
Huelva), Valencina de la Concepción (Seville), Los Millares
(Santa Fe de Mondújar, Almería), Almizaraque (Cuevas del
Almanzora, Almería), Zambujal (Torres Vedras, Portugal), to
mention only those sites whose archaeometallurgical re-
mains have been the subject of more or less comprehensive
All of these sites share certain characteristics:
Although no significant accumulations of copper slags
have been documented they show clear attributes of
metallurgical practices, as in the case of Cabezo Juré, Al-
mizaraque and Valencina. The quantities of slag collec-
ted range from a few hundred grams (Almizaraque, Los
Millares, Zambujal) to a few kilograms (Cabezo Juré, Va-
lencina).15 The slags are usually small fragments produ-
ced by crushing somewhat larger units, but recently also
small cakes of a flat or plano-convex shape have been
The slags are immature and of low quality, with very hete-
rogeneous mineralogical and chemical compositions that
lead to a high viscosity in the material, which hampered
or prevented the separation of the metal being formed
(Fig. 2). The slags often contain delafossite and magneti-
te, indicating that redox conditions in the system in which
they were formed were variable, poorly controlled, someti-
mes reducing, sometimes oxidising conditions (Fig. 3).17 In
view of the high retention of copper, metal as well as unre-
duced ore, the process can be classified as characteristic of
a primitive metallurgy.18
Fig. 1 Partial plan of prehistoric galleries in the Chalcolithic-Early Bronze
Age copper mining complex of El Aramo (Asturias) (after de Blas
2005, 202 fig. 4).
Iberia: Technological Development of Prehistoric Metallurgy 233
19 From the study of the slags from Cabezo Jure it could be deduced
that ultrabasic rocks were used for fluxing (Sáez et al. 2003, 629 – 630).
However, such an addition does not lead to the low viscosity in slags
20 Nocete et al. 2008, fig. 10.
21 Fire structures for metallurgical use are called »furnaces« too freely.
A metallurgical furnace must be a structure which allows a con-
trolled chemical and thermal environment, and adequate for ore
reduction under optimal conditions, which involves the develop-
ment of slagging techniques characteristic of a highly developed
metallurgy, among other features (Hauptmann 2003). Although its
state of preservation at the time of the archaeological excavation
can be very precarious and even unrecognizable, the good quality
of the slag (very durable material) will argue in favour of its exist-
ence. Guided by these considerations, we prefer to reserve the term
»metallurgical furnace« to those heat structures that are cap able of
producing low-melting point slags, which do not occur at the tech-
nological level with which we are dealing.
Direct reduction of ores without the addition of fluxes:19
The resulting slag is formed by a reaction among the
components of the gangue, the fuel ash and the sili cates
from the wall of the container, in which the reduction
occurs. The amount and composition of the slag formed
are directly linked to the reduced mineral composition: If
high grade ores are used, a low amount of slag can be ex-
Use of ceramic vessels (smelting crucibles) as contai-
ners for the operation of reduction (Fig. 4): The formati-
on of slag layers and glazes on the inner surface of the
vessels indicates that an increased thermal shock took
place inside, which in turn suggests that the metallur-
gist had learned how to drive a jet of hot air. Ceramic
tuyères large enough to be connected to bellows have
not been found, but recent excavations have docu-
mented what may be tips or nozzles for blowing-pipe
5. Absence of true metallurgical furnace structures21 in the
archaeological record: The process was performed by
Fig. 2 Copper slag from Los Millares. Many copper prills (white) are
entrapped. SEM back scattering image.
Fig. 4 Reconstructed smelting crucibles from: 1 Morra del Quintanar
(Munera, Albacete), Middle Bronze Age; 2 – 3 Almizaraque (Almería),
Fig. 3 Delafossite and magnetite in copper slag from San Blas (Cheles,
Badajoz). SEM back scattering image.
Fig. 5 Open fire structure in Los Millares, used for smelting purpose
(after Craddock 1995, 133 fig. 4.5).
Salvador Rovira and Ignacio Montero-Ruiz234
22 Craddock 1995, 133, fig. 4.5; Nocete et al. 2004, 282, fig. 13.8; Nocete
et al. 2008, 725, fig. 7.
23 We have plenty of analytical information about materials from those
periods that backs this assertion, the most representative being the
abundance of such remains in the pre-Roman sites of La Corona de
Corporales (171 fragments) and in El Castrelin de San Juan de Pal-
uezas (244 fragments), both in the León province (Fernández-Posse
et al. 1993).
24 In any case, we noted that many of the technological characteristics
of copper-production in the rest of Europe during the Chalcolithic
period and the majority of the Bronze Age are poorly understood.
As far as we know, no studies of metallurgical by-products sup-
ported by laboratory analyses have been made on materials dated
earlier than practically Late Bronze Age contexts; the application to
those regions of the term »technological oriental models« is made
with little discussion. Research on mining and metallurgy has been
further developed more in quantitative (economy, social complex-
ity) than in qualitative terms (technological traits). Examples are the
works by Stöllner (2003) and Krause (2009). In fact we do not know
for sure when occurred in Europe the shift from a primitive technol-
ogy of copper production (immature slags) to a highly developed
technology (low-melting point slags). This is indeed an important
issue for discussion, but this is not the place to do so. In our opin-
ion, the matter is not the amount of copper produced, but how the
copper was produced.
25 Delibes et al. 1991.
26 Bayona et al. 2003.
27 Rovira et al. 1997; Sáez et al. 2003; Müller et al. 2004.
28 Rovira 2002b; Rovira – Ambert 2002; Sáez et al. 2003; Müller et al. 2004.
29 Rovira 1998.
30 Montero Ruiz 2009.
heating the smelting vessel upon an open fire, sometimes
located in ad hoc protective structures or small pits that
would improve the thermal efficiency, as has been docu-
mented at sites such as Los Millares (Fig. 5), Cabezo Juré
What is really surprising is that these features of technologi-
cal primitivism long characterize the metallurgy of the Iberian
Peninsula, well into the Iron Age,23 which contrasts sharply
with the developments occurring in other regions of the Eas-
tern Mediterranean and Central and Southeast Europe. This
constitutes a regional peculiarity to be explained from other
non-technological perspectives. It seems that the demand
for metal on the Peninsula during the Copper and Bronze
Age was well secured without the need to develop better
and more efficient technology.24
Arsenical copper, an intentional or a hazard alloy?
For many years it was thought that arsenical copper was an
important step forward in alloying techniques in order to
obtain better metals. So, the chain copper arsenical cop-
per tin bronze has been considered the backbone of the
development of early metallurgy. However, we know of no
work based upon real archaeological evidence of smelting or
melting practices that demonstrates how the alloying could
have been accomplished in prehistoric times. The existence
of arsenical copper objects has led to the assumption that
metallurgists made them intentionally. Many theories on ar-
senic alloying (including experimental work) have been de-
veloped, but none, as far as we know, is wholly supported by
the archaeological record.
What the evidence does suggest, at least in Iberia, is the
1. Copper and arsenical copper objects are found together
from the beginning in all Chalcolithic sites with thick
stratigraphic deposits, for example, Almizaraque25 and
Cabezo Juré.26 They supply radiocarbon dates at the be-
ginning of the 3rd millennium cal BC.
2. In many sites the copper ores used are of polymetallic na-
3. There is no way to distinguish with the naked eye colour
differences between pure malachite and malachite that
contains olivenite and/or conichalcite.
4. The analyses of slags, smelting crucible fragments and
other debris indicate without any doubt that copper ores
naturally bearing arsenic were smelted in situ.28
The arsenic content in Chalcolithic objects shows a dis-
tribution that matches quite well with the evolution of
natural processes, accounting for the arsenic lost in smelt-
ing and annealing operations, in addition to factors that
are not so easy to evaluate (Fig. 6). As is well known, col-
our change and better properties in arsenical copper be-
come noticeable when the arsenic amount is higher than
3 – 4 %. If Chalcolithic and Early Bronze metallurgists were
concerned with its intentional production, the histogram
would reflect the same pattern as the tin bronze‘s one (see
Therefore, in our opinion, these alloys were not deliberately
produced. Once again mineralogy is determinant. In fact,
regional differences of arsenic contents related to mineral-
ogy and distance to the available resources, recycling, etc.,
have been detected.29 In this regard it is worth mentioning
that the first copper coinage during the time of Isabella II in
the 1830s, which used ores of Spanish origin, reproduced
non-intentional impurity patterns like those in Chalcolithic
Fig. 6 Arsenic content in Chalcolithic copper objects from the
southeast Iberian Peninsula (data from Rovira et al. 1997 and
Iberia: Technological Development of Prehistoric Metallurgy 235
31 Some colour properties of the scarce arsenic-rich alloys such as the
surface »silvering« effect were perceived, no doubt. See a short dis-
cussion on this topic in Rovira – Gómez 2003, 192 – 194.
32 Budd 1992; Rovira 1998; Rovira – Gómez 2003; Kienlin 2008.
33 Alcalde et al. 1998.
34 Fernández-Miranda et al. 1995.
Another matter is the extent to which early metallurgists
recognised these arsenical bronzes. Probably, the new col-
our was one of the most appreciated features at that time.31
This is suggested by current investigations that show that the
theoretically possible improvement of mechanical proper-
ties was not fully realized, as demonstrated by the metallo-
graphic microstructure, arsenic content and function of the
objects.32 But this is a matter that calls for a more detailed dis-
cussion in another context.
Tin bronzes: a real innovation
The earliest tin bronzes of the Iberian Peninsula were found
in Bauma del Serrat del Pont (Tortellà, Girona), a settlement
that was inhabited for a long time span. An arrowhead and
metal waste made of low tin bronze were unearthed in Chal-
colithic strata with Bell Beaker ceramics dated to 4200 ± 70
BP (Beta-90622) and 4020 ± 100 BP (Beta-64939), respectively
2800 – 2450 (2σ) cal BC. Evidence for tin bronze production
(smelting crucibles, metal waste, objects) is more numerous
at this site in the following Early Bronze Age.33
Tin bronze technology moved southwards very slowly,
reaching the area of the El Argar culture in the Southeast, not
earlier than the 19th century cal BC. It is thought that this new
technology arrived in Iberia from afar, probably from south-
An interesting aspect to underscore, apart from the sur-
prisingly slow pace of dissemination of the new alloy, is that
in no case did tin bronze substitute copper in producing ob-
jects. In Bauma del Serrat, for instance, copper and bronze
Fig. 7 Tin in Middle Bronze Age objects (data from Rovira et al. 1997
Fig. 9 Tin in Late Bronze Age swords and daggers (data from Rovira
Fig. 8 Slaggy layer in an Early Bronze Age smelting crucible from Santa
María de Matallana (Villalba de los Alcores, Valladolid). SEM back
scattering image (after Rovira 2008 – 2009, 47 fig. 4).
Fig. 10 Copper-tin slag from the Late Bronze–Early Iron Age site of El
Castro (Gusendo de los Oteros, Burgos). SEM back scattering
Salvador Rovira and Ignacio Montero-Ruiz236
35 See Rovira et al. 1997.
36 For a discussion on this topic see Rovira 2007 and Rovira et al. 2009.
37 Rovira 2007.
38 Dungworth 2000.
39 Rovira 2008 – 2009.
40 Gener et al. 2007.
41 Strahm 1994.
42 Strahm – Hauptmann 2009.
43 Delibes et al. 2010.
44 Montero Ruiz 2005, 189 – 192.
45 Delibes – Montero 1997, 26.
46 Murillo Barroso – Montero Ruiz 2012.
47 Strahm – Hauptmann 2009, 120.
objects still coexisted during the first half of the 2nd millen-
nium cal BC. Moreover, taking into account the set of analy-
ses of Middle Bronze Age objects,35 80 % of them were made
of copper and 20 % of tin bronze. It is also striking that most
of the tin bronze objects of the El Argar culture were made
for ornamental purpose (rings, bracelets, necklaces), not as
weapons or tools.
The percentage of tin in the alloys varies very irregularly
during the Middle Bronze Age (Fig. 7), a variation that can be
explained, if we accept co-smelting of copper and tin min-
erals as the method used for alloying.36 Despite the fact that
only few slags dating to the Bronze Age have been properly
investigated, they seem to be quite similar to the Chalco-
lithic ones described above. What is new is the presence of
cassiterite both as globules and as rhombic crystals and nails
(Fig. 8). Hence, a new raw material, the cassiterite, appears on
the stage in the Early Bronze Age.37
Co-smelting is a process that makes it very difficult to con-
trol the final proportion of components in the alloy, because,
on the one hand, at that time the metallurgist did not know
the exact composition of the minerals smelted together in
the crucible. On the other hand, an unpredictable part of cas-
siterite is lost in the slag, because it is not reduced (see Fig. 8).
The thermal and chemical environment inside the smelting
crucible, which is not easy to control, is of great importance.
The frequent presence of magnetite and rhombic cassiterite
indicates that the process produced a highly oxidising at-
mosphere, what had a negative effect on the alloying, as re-
ported by Dungworth.38
The tin content in bronzes seems to have been more
standardised in the Late Bronze Age. However, the range of
compositions was still wide, as shown in Figure 9, represent-
ing the alloys of Spanish swords and daggers of the Ria de
Huelva type. In our opinion this is due to the fact that co-
smelting and/or copper cementation techniques continued
to be in use as late as the whole Iron Age39 (Fig. 10).
Regarding the ternary alloy copper-tin-lead, this alloy
appears late in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age, but
heavily leaded bronzes are practically confined to the pro-
duction of palstaves in Galicia and Portugal, usually linked
to Atlantic metallurgy. Both copper-lead ingots and objects
from that period have been recently reported on the Spanish
Mediterranean seaboard, in some sites related to Phoenician
colonies. Little is known yet about lead metallurgy in this pe-
riod,40 but the cupellation process for silver production intro-
duced by Phoenician colonizers might be connected with the
first use of lead as independent metal and in bronze alloys in
Christian Strahm’s proposal for metallurgical developmental phases and the Iberian Peninsula
This proposal based upon available archaeological data was
first formulated about twenty years ago.41 Since then, it has
been appended or refined after many discussions up to the
most recent one.42 How does the development of Iberian
Peninsula metallurgy match such a proposal?
A preliminary stage of the usage of coloured stones
(malachite, azurite, turquoise, variscite) is recorded in Neolithic
times, which means the starting point of a complex mining
technology and trade in the case of the Spanish variscite. Some
copper minerals have been recently found in the Neolithic site
Nava de Nocedo (Burgos). Although its function is unknown,
they clearly hint towards access to this raw material.43
The existence of an initial phase of the first metallurgy
using native copper has not been proven until now.
The innovation phase for early metallurgy consisting of
smelting oxide ores in simple vessels seems to have started
as early as the Spanish Middle Neolithic, in the 5th millenni-
um cal BC at Cerro Virtud, and there is also some evidence in
the Late Neolithic site of Terrera Ventura (Tabernas, Almería)
and other sites.44 The lack in the surrounding regions of the
Western Mediterranean of any evidence on this topic led De-
libes and Montero to propose the autonomous inception of
metallurgy in the Peninsula as a natural consequence in the
evolution of local Neolithic society.45 This is not as surprising
as it might seem at first sight. The chances for obtaining cop-
per in an experimental stage are very limited, so that every
social group that decided to start the experiments would
follow more or less the same steps, steps that are independ-
ent of cultural conditioning, yet dependent upon the laws of
physics and chemistry. At this point, only archaeological evi-
dence could diagnose whether the onset of an experimen-
tal metallurgy is the result of contacts and dissemination of
knowledge or is an autonomous process. In the current state
of our knowledge such evidence of diffusion is lacking, so
that, with the necessary caution, one cannot easily reject an
The consolidation phase showing a developed metallurgy
did not occur on the Iberian Peninsula with the features pro-
posed by Christian Strahm47 until almost pre-Roman times.
During the Chalcolithic period, the Bronze Age and much of
the Iron Age the existence of true metallurgical furnaces has
not been recorded; there are no slag heaps and the nature of
metallurgical slags and other debris insistently hints towards
the use of smelting crucibles.
However, we can see how throughout the Bronze Age
some optimization took place in the design of metallurgical
Iberia: Technological Development of Prehistoric Metallurgy 237
48 Müller et al. 2004.
49 Both experimentation and archaeological facts show that copper
production from fahlores do not require any substantial modification
of the smelting crucible process. See for example Ambert et al. 2009,
289 – 292.
50 Hauptmann 2003, 460.
ceramic (crucibles, moulds). Sporadic working of fahlores,
already documented in the Chalcolithic period,48 cannot be
considered as a symptom of mining and metallurgical pro-
gress, but rather as a consequence of the metallogenetic
characteristics of the Peninsula,49 where there are many min-
eral outcrops in which the gossan and oxidation zone of the
ore deposit is lost.
Several other features of Strahm’s proposal regarding
the consolidation phase are fulfilled on the Iberian Pen-
insula, from the Chalcolithic to the Iron Age, but one key
feature is lacking: the development of metallurgical fur-
naces and slagging processes, which marks the difference
between a primitive and a fully developed metallurgy.50
Therefore, there are two options: either we accept that the
consolidation phase on the Peninsula had some particular
technological features, or we must admit that such a phase
did not occur and that the experimental phase had a long
development from the Neolithic to the Iron Age in some
In regard to the industrial phase, it does not seem to occur
throughout Iberia at the same time, and further, in any case,
it was conditioned by the arrival of Phoenician and Greek
s ettlers. However, this is a chapter that still contains many
technological unknowns, at least in its beginning.
Work developed in the frame of Programa Consolider-
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Address of authors
Espartero, 50-2º pta 6
Instituto de Historia
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas