Ilaria Calgaro (UCL) - 2021-22 Students

Technology, organisation, and networks of metal production and circulation in the Eurasian Steppe Bronze Age: a case of large-scale copper production at the site of Taldysai (Kazakhstan)

The 2nd millennium BC in Eurasia is marked by an intensification of metal production, which laid the foundations for the trade networks linking the far ends of this continent, later recognised as the Silk Roads. Towards the centre of this complex system were the steppe pastoralists, commonly regarded as merchants. My research project explores their overlooked role as engineers of such an industrial-scale metal production and circulation.

The site of Taldysai (central Kazakhstan) yielded a unique complex of furnaces, production debris, mining tools and bronze artefacts, all available for detailed analysis together with comparative regional metallurgical databases. Its proximity to Dzhezkazgan, a major Bronze Age mining complex in the steppes, allows the investigation of large-scale metalmaking technology and landscape exploitation and management to study the role of Taldysai within the wider regional network of metal production and circulation. Methodology builds on a robust protocol that integrates innovative analytical tools from Archaeology, Material and Earth Sciences, Geography, Physics and Statistics through archaeomaterials and network analyses.

Results will provide a more complete study of the metallurgical expertise among non-sedentary societies and expand our understanding of the network dynamics connecting different steppe regions, alongside forces driving metal production and circulation across the Eurasian continent.

Primary supervisor: Dr Mark Altaweel, UCL
Secondary supervisor: Dr Miljana Radivojević, UCL

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