Archaeometallurgical investigation of the iron anchor from the Tantura F shipwreck

A. Aronson, D. Ashkenazi, O. Barkai, Y. Kahanov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Tantura F shipwreck was a coaster or a fishing vessel about 15.7 m long, discovered in the Dor/Tantura lagoon, Israel in 1995. It was dated to between the mid-7th and the end of the 8th centuries CE. Among the finds excavated were two T-shaped type iron anchors. Of the two anchors, one (anchor A) was thoroughly studied by archaeometallurgical methods in order to identify forge-welding lines, to determine the welding quality and to understand the manufacturing technology. The examinations included X-ray radiography, XRF analysis, optical microscopy, SEM/EDS observation and analysis, OES analysis and microhardness tests. The investigation included characterization of the composition, microstructure, thermal treatments, forge-welding junctions and slag analysis. The results revealed a heterogeneous microstructure, rich in glassy, fayalite and wüstite slag. Iron based phases included ferrite, pearlite, cementite and Widmanstätten plates, all typical to wrought iron. The forge-welds of Anchor A were located. Each arm was made of one piece, weighing about 2.5-3 kg and the shank was made of a few 1.5-2 kg pieces. The second anchor (anchor B) was only briefly examined visually and with a few radiographs, which support the results from anchor A. The research results revealed significant information about T-shaped anchors and their manufacturing process, including hot-working processes without any additional heat treatments, and folding techniques. The microstructure was similar to other ancient simple tools such as saws, sickles, axes and mortise chisels, and though the technology to make complicated structures and objects, such as swords, existed at that time, the anchors did not require this sophistication; thus simpler techniques were used, presumably because they were more cost-effective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-120
Number of pages13
JournalMaterials Characterization
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation , the Hecht Foundation , Lord Jacobs of London , a Sir Maurice Hatter Fellowship for Maritime Studies and the University of Haifa , to whom the authors are thankful.


  • Archaeometallurgy
  • Iron
  • Keywords
  • Microstructure
  • T-shaped anchor
  • Tantura F
  • Wrought iron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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