A study of the composition and microstructure of silver hoards from Tel Beth-Shean, Tel Dor, and Tel Miqne, Israel

S. Shalev, D. Shechtman, S. Sh Shilstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The chemical composition and microstructure of objects excavated in three hoards from the end of the Late Bronze and Iron Age sites in Israel were studied using energy-dispersive x-ray fluorescence analysis and optical metallography. The objects are industrial in origin (scrap or jewelry pieces) and include differently shaped ingots, mainly so-called hacksilber, in various sizes. The primary composition is Ag with typically several percent of Cu and Au and less than 1 % of Pb. The concentrations of these metals in each hoard differ significantly. The microstructure of the hacksilber ingots shows a typical dendritic as-cast structure and a surface cold work deformation, probably caused by chiseling the ingot piece off a larger cast bar. Relatively high concentrations of Au, as in the above samples, were observed previously in Egyptian ancient silver which differs from the ancient Greek silver that contains a significantly lower Au content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-225
Number of pages5
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We thank the excavators of these three hoards for giving us the permission to study and publish some of their finds: Prof. A. Mazar, the excavator of Beth-Shean; Prof. E. Stern, the excavator of Tel Dor; and Prof. S. Gitin and Prof. T. Dothan, the excavators of Tel Miqne. The authors also thank A. Behar-Eliyahu and N. Yahalom for their assistance and for supplying samples from Beth-Shean for our study; E. Mintz and A. Vaskevich for their help in the preparation of some samples; M.E. Generalov, E.G. Osadchy, G.A. Palyanova, and S. Weiner for their useful discussions and comments; and especially the anonymous reviewers for their detailed comments. S. Shilstein is thankful for support in the framework of the ERC grant no. 229418.


  • Bronze and Iron Age
  • Chemical content
  • Hacksilber
  • Israel
  • Microstructure
  • Silver hoards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology


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