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Copper alloy working – technological innovations, learning and adoption

Early medieval copper alloy working is marked by innovations in technologies and materials, among other things the wide-spread adoption of brass, an imported material in most regions. These innovations are focussed on urban sites, which are testified as major production centres.

Combining the study of workshop debris and finished products from non-ferrous metalworking, and supported by metallographic analysis, the project aims to identify the archaeological ‘fingerprints’ of individual technologies and codes of practice (e.g. types of moulds, models or crucibles, use of alloys or mixers), to trace how these were adopted by groups of artisans, and how these patterns identify the cultural knowledge, learning processes and flows of communication between early urban communities.

The work builds on a decade of studies into metalworking in Kaupang, Norway, and seeks to establish a comparative context for the patterns identified in this Viking town.  A particular focus for the work within the present project in on the rich workshops assemblages from Ribe, Denmark, thanks to the generous cooperation of Sydvestjyske Museer.