Copper production during the Early Bronze Age at Aghios Antonios, Potos on Thasos
Nerantzis Nerantzis & Stratis Papadopoulos In E. Photos-Jones, Y. Bassiakos, E. Filippaki, A. Hein, I. Karatasios, V. Kilikoglou & E. Kouloumpi (eds), 2016. Proceedings of the 6th Symposium of the Hellenic Society for Archaeometry (Bar International Series 2780), Oxford: 89-94.
The emergence of copper metallurgy in the northern Aegean is regarded as a derivative from more southeasterly areas whence the innovation of metals technology had originated. In the case of Thasos the possibilities offered by the recurrence of extensive metal bearing deposits enabled its early inhabitants to become engaged with metal extraction at an early stage during the Final Neolithic/Early Bronze Age. A growing body of evidence from Limenaria and more recently from Aghios Antonios, Potos testifies to the reduction of local, secondary copper ores associated with the rich Pb/Zn/Ag mineralization on the island. A project of instrumental analysis that focused on metallurgical residues from Aghios Antonios revealed information on smelting during which low contents of zinc and arsenic had been incorporated into the copper prills found entrapped in the slag. Although zinc, which is residual, does not surpass 1%, the presence of arsenic in contents up to 4% is significant. The unintentional formation of arsenical copper owing to the polymetallic nature of the utilized ores and the resulting effects on the produced metal would have caused a reorientation of procurement strategies and further treatment of raw materials thereof. Such a finding might be taken as an indication of potentially deliberate selection of arsenic bearing ores to co-smelt with malachite, both of which could be found on the island. The evidence from Aghios Antonios puts Thasos into the wider discussion concerning the nature of copper reduction and emergence of alloying technologies in the Early Bronze Age Aegean.