First evidence for alloying practices in the Chalcolithic Southern Levant (4500–3800 BCE) as revealed by metallography

Thomas Rose, Stefano Natali, Andrea Brotzu, Shay Bar, Yuval Goren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Excavations at the Chalcolithic site Fazael in the central Jordan Valley uncovered a large number of metal items, many of them polymetallic copper alloys cast in the lost wax technique. Metallography and SEM–EDS analysis on a subset of the assemblage confirm previous notions of the lost wax metallurgy in the Chalcolithic Southern Levant but extend them significantly in three aspects: The Fazael metal assemblage is slightly depleted in its arsenic content compared to metal assemblages from other sites, silt-sized quartz inclusions in unalloyed and polymetallic copper items, and the presence of unalloyed copper inclusions. These latter provide the earliest direct evidence for mixing of different metal types in West Asia, potentially alloying or recycling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number193
JournalHeritage Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 766311. This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 457/21).

Funding Information:
The presented research is part of a PhD project carried out by TR and supervised by YG, PF, and Francesca Balossi Restelli (Sapienza—Università di Roma). The authors thank Haggai Cohen-Klonymus (Hebrew University, Jerusalem) for his support as area manager of Fazael 2. TR is thankful to Laura Zortea (Sapienza—Università di Roma) for her support in preparing the metallographic sections. The comments of the anonymous reviewers considerably improved the article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Alloying
  • Chalcolithic
  • Fazael
  • Lost wax casting
  • Metallography
  • Mixing
  • Polymetallic copper alloys
  • Southern Levant
  • Unalloyed copper inclusions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Spectroscopy


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