This project will investigate the organisation of mining, mineral processing and metallurgy in northern Greece from prehistory up to the Classical period and their implications for social interaction, political power, economy and ritual. It is focused on one of the richest in mineral deposits regions of the country and explores issues of technological expansion through connectivity and mobility which are central to ongoing discussions in archaeology. It involves an interdisciplinary study of mining landscapes, excavated sites and archaeological material found therein by employing modern analytical techniques (archaeometry and GIS) in order tο provide quantifiable data on the social, symbolic and economic significance of metal production in the ancient world. The project’s objective is to address three crucial research questions corresponding to three technological breakthroughs:
a) The emergence and early development of copper and silver extraction within the Late Neolithic/Bronze Age cultural framework (5th-2nd mill. BC). Relevant sites include Promachon-Topolnica and Sitagroi on the mainland, Limenaria, Aghios Antonios and Skala Sotiros on Thasos, and Mikro Vouni on Samothrace that yielded important metallurgical assemblages. The study of such material will contribute significant information on issues of raw materials acquisition, processing/enrichment of minerals and metals production while examining the possible links with Balkan, Western Anatolian and Cycladic metallurgical centres.
b) The introduction of iron metallurgy associated with increased connectivity between sites of the North Aegean and Anatolia around 1200-700 BC. Iron ore deposits from Thasos and the Rhodope mountain range will be studied and their chemical composition will be compared to the composition of Early Iron Age metallurgical finds from Kastri in Thasos and iron objects from sites in Xanthi and Drama prefectures. Such an investigation will enable us to approach the crucial issue of the emergence/adoption of iron technology in this region.
c) The intensification of mining and extraction of base and precious metals during the Archaic and Classical period (700-323 BC), triggered by the establishment of Greek colonies on the Thracian coastline. Metallurgical finds from Abdera and Pistyros will be studied in conjunction with evidence from the mining zones at Kimmeria and mount Lekani respectively. Characterization of mineral ores and slag will contribute to an evaluation of the technology applied in silver extraction that was so important for the minting of coinage. Such an investigation aims to elucidate the relations between Thracian indigenous populations inhabiting the mining zone and the Greeks of the colonies producing and trading metals through their far-reaching exchange networks.
The significance of investigating metals technology through these case studies is paramount as each one reflects directly onto the social choices behind utilizing strategic mineral resources, the different levels of economic and political organisation and the use of ritual connotations towards appropriation of resources and technical knowledge. In order to approach the key issues described above interdisciplinary research tools are utilized such as archaeological finds recording, field survey, GIS data processing, sampling and laboratory analysis of finds, and experimental reduction of mineral ores using ancient examples. With this project, exploration of technological networks behind mining, mineral processing and organisation of metal production will serve to re-conceptualize these paradigms by reintegrating crafting in socio-political dynamics.
Bassiakos Y., Nerantzis N. and Papadopoulos S. 2019 Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age metallurgical practices at Limenaria, Thasos: evidence for silver and copper production, Journal of Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, Volume 11 (6), 2743-2757.
Nerantzis N., Bassiakos Y., Georgakopoulou M., Filippaki E., Mastrotheodoros G. 2017 Copper Production in EBA Thasos: new finds and experimental simulation in the context of contemporaneous Aegean metallurgical practices, In I. Montero Ruiz and A. Perea (eds.) Archaeometallurgy in Europe IV, Bibliotheca Praehistorica Hispana Vol. XXXIII, Instituto de Historia, Madrid, 115-125.
Nerantzis N., Bassiakos Y. and Papadopoulos S. 2016 Copper metallurgy of the Early Bronze Age in Thassos, north Aegean, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 7, 574-580.
Nerantzis N. and Papadopoulos S. 2016 Copper production during the Early Bronze Age at Aghios Antonios, Potos in Thassos, Ιn E. Photos-Jones in collaboration with Y. Bassiakos, E. Filippaki, A. Hein, I. Karatasios, V. Kilikoglou and E. Kouloumpi (eds) Proceedings of the 6th