The enigma of bronze age tin

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Isotope systematics and chemical composition of tin ingots from Mochlos (Crete) and other Late Bronze Age sites in the eastern Mediterranean Sea: An ultimate key to tin provenance?

Daniel Berger, Jeffrey S. Soles, Alessandra R. Giumlia-Mair, Gerhard Brügmann, Ehud Galili, Nicole Lockhoff, Ernst Pernicka
Published: June 26, 2019


The origin of the tin used for the production of bronze in the Eurasian Bronze Age is still one of the mysteries in prehistoric archaeology. In the past, numerous studies were carried out on archaeological bronze and tin objects with the aim of determining the sources of tin, but all failed to find suitable fingerprints. In this paper we investigate a set of 27 tin ingots from well-known sites in the eastern Mediterranean Sea (Mochlos, Uluburun, Hishuley Carmel, Kfar Samir south, Haifa) that had been the subject of previous archaeological and archaeometallurgical research. By using a combined approach of tin and lead isotopes together with trace elements it is possible to narrow down the potential sources of tin for the first time. The strongly radiogenic composition of lead in the tin ingots from Israel allows the calculation of a geological model age of the parental tin ores of 291 ± 17 Ma. This theoretical formation age excludes Anatolian, central Asian and Egyptian tin deposits as tin sources since they formed either much earlier or later. On the other hand, European tin deposits of the Variscan orogeny agree well with this time span so that an origin from European deposits is suggested. With the help of the tin isotope composition and the trace elements of the objects it is further possible to exclude many tin resources from the European continent and, considering the current state of knowledge and the available data, to conclude that Cornish tin mines are the most likely suppliers for the 13th–12th centuries tin ingots from Israel. Even though a different provenance seems to be suggested for the tin from Mochlos and Uluburun by the actual data, these findings are of great importance for the archaeological interpretation of the trade routes and the circulation of tin during the Late Bronze Age. They demonstrate that the trade networks between the eastern Mediterranean and some place in the east that are assumed for the first half of the 2nd millennium BCE (as indicated by textual evidence from Kültepe/Kaneš and Mari) did not exist in the same way towards the last quarter of the millennium.


The enigma of bronze age tin

September 13, 2019, Heidelberg University
It is really confusing.

They said also:

Tin objects are extremely rare in the archaeological record, and only very few are known from prehistoric contexts (for artefacts in the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East dating from before 1000 BCE see).
The archaeometallurgical examination of 27 LBA tin ingots (1530–c. 1300 BCE) from five sites in the eastern Mediterranean area enables the localisation of the potential suppliers of the tin ores by means of chemical and isotopic analyses for the first time. The lead isotope composition of the tin is the most important fingerprint in this regard.

However, it seems to me that seima turbino tin bronze of altai and lead entered china erlitou culture much earlier. (A 2007 study of radiocarbon dating has proposed a narrower date range of 1750 to 1530 BC).
Sword of Elunino, seima turbino culture, was found in the erlitou.

unfortunately, in china we do not yet know of any metal object related,without doubt, to the chemurchek culture. kovalev, erdenebaatar, tishkin and grushin found several leaden ear rings and one ring of tin bronze in three excavated chemurchek stone boxes (kovalev and erdenebaatar 2014a; tishkin et al. 2015). such lead rings are typical for elunino culture,which occupied the entire west altai after 2400–2300 bce (tishkin et al. 2015). this culture had developed a tradition of bronze metallurgy with various dopants, primarily tin. thus, the tradition of bronze metallurgy as early as this time could have penetrated the mongolian altai far to the south.

Two new observations of these spearheads suggest that Seima-Turbino metal-casting technology was responsible for the development of metallurgy in China.
Recent research on cultural exchanges between the Seima-Turbino and other Bronze Age cultures tested 16 pieces of Seima-Turbino spearhead fragments using XRF (Liu 2015). Table 1 shows that nine were copper, five were copper-arsenic (Cu-As) alloys and only two were copper-tin (Cu-Sn) alloys. Analysis of metal artefacts from the Erlitou site showed that six were bronze, four were copper-lead-tin (Cu-Pb-Sn) alloys, two were copper and only one was a Cu-As alloy (Jin 2000).
Well this changes everything and makes 90% of my theorys likely. let alone possible.

Direct contact between Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Israel, No doubt Italy, Spain, France and Britain by at least 1300bc.

Maybe i can take off my tin foil hat at last lol
Least its a made in the Uk tin foil hat. oh dear
What else was interchangable during this time between any of the countries mentioned ?
No doubt Women, Slaves, legends and stories would have been passed to and thro when these trade boats arrived at port.
Mercenary's and army's, Hired army's being shipped around. As you can see it was a bit of a free for all.

So now we know that the battles of the near east in the bronze age were fought with swords that had origins in western Europe. Interesting.
What of the tin used in the chisels to build there monuments ?
So it seems that at the very least tin moved from west to east to make these events possible.
Why not more then that ? knowledge, People ? Its no longer Impossible or highly unlikely but very plausible even very likely :)
What else was interchangable during this time between any of the countries mentioned ?
No doubt Women, Slaves, legends and stories would have been passed to and thro when these trade boats arrived at port.

Salt/pepper/spices. Woven fabrics/dyes. Silver/gold. Jewelry/ornaments. Wine. Olive oil. Obsidian/flints. Weapons/armour. Finished tools/implements.

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