THE METALLURGY OF THE NAHAL MISHMAR HOARD RECONSIDERED

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Abstract

The Nahal Mishmar hoard, found in a cave in the Judean Desert in 1961, is a key find for the study of Chalcolithic metallurgy in Israel and the Levant. Recent analyses of Chalcolithic metalwork from sites such as Shiqmim in Israel raised doubts about the validity of published analyses from the hoard. Accordingly a programme of re-analysis was established using atomic absorption spectrometry and electron probe microanalysis. The new analyses confirmed the doubts and showed that the metallurgy of Nahal Mishmar was the same as that at the other sites. The alloys used for the cast products in the hoard were generally ternary arsenic-antimony copper alloys with up to 20% alloy content; less common were compositions with arsenic and nickel. The unusual metallography of these alloys is described. Some suggestions are offered as to the mode of manufacture of the alloys.

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