Programmes > Par auteur > Hassam Stephan

Chemical characterization via pXRF of Bronze Age metal items from the National Museum of Archaeology of Valletta, Malta
Stephan Hassam  1, *@  , Davide Tanasi  1@  , Robert H. Tykot  1@  , Andrea Vianello  1@  
1 : University of South Florida
4202 E Fowler Ave, Tampa, FL 33620 -  États-Unis
* : Auteur correspondant

We have performed non-destructive analyses on 21 metal artifacts from the Maltese archipelago and dated to between the 17th and the 12th century BC, representing the only evidence of metalwork in that country during the Bronze Age. The objects - daggers, axes, metal vessels, rings, pins, generic tools and an ingot - were found in the key sites of the local Early Bronze Age (Tarxien Cemetery) and Middle/Late Bronze Age (Ghar Mirdum, Borġ in-Nadur, Bahrija) and were traditionally interpreted as made out of bronze solely on the account of a direct exam. This evidence was considered by scholars as the indicator of commercial relations between the people of Malta and Mycenaean entrepreneurs active in the Mediterranean and responsible for the introduction of pottery, metals and other exotic goods in nearby Sicily. The presence of supposedly bronze items in Malta and Sicily, both with geographic contexts lacking in raw metals, was traditionally interpreted either as the result of a consistent flux of Mycenaean imports, with a climax during the Late Helladic IIIA-B period, or as the outcome of a significant contribution of Mycenaean visitors to the development of local metallurgy. However, the recent results of our pXRF analyses (portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer) on metal artifacts from Bronze Age Sicily have demonstrated that the majority of the samples are made of copper and not of bronze, and therefore it is unlikely that they are Mycenaean imports, shifting to a later date the beginning of metal alloy working in Sicily. The aim of this contribution is to present the results of a research carried out on the Maltese samples applying the same technique, in order to ascertain the chemical composition of these 21 artifacts, to establish the origin of the metals implied by their composition, and to compare the data with those already available for Sicily and the Aegean. The interpretation of the results certainly contribute to the reconsideration of the impact of Mycenaean culture on the development of the Maltese Bronze Age culture, eventually clarifying the role of Sicily in Maltese-Aegean interactions.


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