Bilateral Co-operation Slovenia – United States of America

Tin isotope characterization

of bronze

artefacts in Slovenia

01. 10. 2018 – 30. 09. 2021

The project will contribute to the increase of general knowledge about cultural history and ancient technologies on the territory of southern and eastern central Europe. With the collaboration of both research groups, new methodologies and techniques of archaeometallurgical analyses will be introduced. The later, currently performed only by two research institutions in the world, will further enlarge our knowledge on uses and distribution of tin in Europe. The collaboration will majorly contribute to the introduction of new research technologies, production and dissemination of knowledge as well to the promotion of Slovenian and American scientific excellence.

The methodology used in the project will instead focus on the provenance of Tin (Sn) originating prominently from tin ore cassiterite (SnO2). Variations in tin isotopic compositions (δ124Sn/116Sn vs δ120Sn/116Sn) could be interpreted as if the composition reflects the natural variations in tin ores that were smelted or that the composition is a reflection of processes used in bronze smelting, melting and casting which modified the original isotopic signature of isotopically homogeneous tin ores.

With systematic sampling, we would like to define differences between “local” and “imported” items from different periods and compare the sources of tin in castings from different periods. In cultural and historic perspectives, these analyses will enable as detailed mapping of long-distance trade with bronze in the last millennium BC. Technologically will their analyses define differences in metallurgical technologies of production of different groups of items in different periods.

Project leaders: Assoc. Prof. Boris Kavur  &  Prof. Wayne G. Powell