As Chalcolithic or Copper Age (Chalcolithic, Eneolithic) in parts of Europe and is the Middle East a time period between the Neolithic and early Bronze Age called, in which the copper mining and basic techniques of metallurgy were invented.

Copper in the Neolithic Age
: Main article → Neolithic

To date there is no single name for the time horizon of the early copper processing, which is located on the regional differences introduction of copper processing. Access to raw copper was dependent on local resources and the unequal access to commercial networks. The archeology defines the beginning of the Copper Age, especially on the economic importance of the metal, which is associated mostly with the copper mining industry, in some cases, but also about the local processing imported copper is defined. In the Central European division of the Neolithic of Jens Lüning meet the lower levels Neolithic , Late Neolithic and late Neolithic period to the Bronze Age. [1]

Early copper is already in the early Vinča culture of the late sixth millennium BC demonstrated. [2] In recent years, recovered during excavations copper tools (axes and chisels) and slags the Serbian find sites Pločnik ( Okrug Toplica ) [3] [4] and Belovode ( Okrug Braničevo apply) when the earliest smelted copper properties in Europe . The associated mining was based on specific migration of lead isotopes in the copper in the region around Rudna Glava identified. [5] They are up to 800 years older than the copper and gold objects from the necropolis of Varna and the likely associated copper mine Ai Bunar (north of Stara Zagora , Bulgaria).

The first metal cultures of South Eastern Europe – there usually called Eneolithic – besides the Vinča culture (Serbia, Western Bulgaria) the Tripolje Cucuteni culture (Eastern Romania, Ukraine) and the Tisza culture in Hungary. In the Middle East the Eneolithic of the late enough Halaf period to Obed-time . Objects made ​​of cold hammered, native copper but are already out of the pre-pottery Neolithic known. On the Iberian Peninsula , the first copper smelting in the settlement of Cerro Virtud (is Almeria , southeast Spain) occupied. Here verziegelte remnants of the furnace wall of a furnace were found, suggesting a reduction method. [6] The finding dated to the early 5th millennium BC, as well as most places Fund of Southeast Europe. The Los Millares culture continues the metallurgical tradition in Spain.

In Central Europe, first imported goods come from copper sheet in the graves Rössen culture in the first half of the 5th Millennium BC before, but have no economic significance. [7] objects such as axes and hatchets will only enter the Western Lengyel Culture in Moravia and Austria, which is also in the South and Central German cultures ( Münchshöfen culture , Gatersleben Culture , culture Baalberger ) reflected in the form of imports. Copper is an independent processing of imported metal is about 4200 BC in the Silesian Jordansmühler culture , as evidenced by single surviving molds in place of discovery Jordansmühl is occupied.

The first detectable copper mining in Central Europe was of the population of Mondsee Culture (3770 – 3200 BC) operated as their copper items partly of copper ore deposits on Mitterberg Mühlbach come (Austria).
Metal Processing

Metalworking was initially sterling ( elementary occurring) metals such as gold , silver and copper developed. The oldest sterling jewelry from copper plates dating from the 8th Millennium BC and come from Anatolia , for example, from the archaeological site Cayönü .

The most famous man in the Copper Age is as cold mummy preserved Ötzi , who lived around 3300 BC. He contributed to his death, an almost completely preserved copper ax with him.

Before the development of bronze metal objects were limited weapons-usable because copper bends when cold and dulls quickly. Only the casting also allowed the mass production of similar objects.

During the Copper Age were techniques of prospecting for and extraction of ores, developed primarily in open pits. The development of the smelting of copper defused the shortage of native copper. Also lead was smelted and is often seen in connection with the extraction of silver. Along with the reduction of tin put this technical basis for the subsequent Bronze Age.

The Copper Age smelting went mainly from oxide and carbonate ores malachite and azurite from. These could be a single stage smelting process under heating in a reducing atmosphere: the ores are formed in the oxidation zone of the veins and can have thicknesses of up to 30 m. Apart from oxide ores sometimes more complex ores, as were chalcopyrite (copper ore, CuFeS 2) and chalcocite (copper glance, CuS) smelted. Among them is the copper as sulfide before and had initially roasted in order to convert the sulfur to sulfur dioxide. In a separate process then was the reduction to copper. For she needed to charcoal , because the carbon monoxide delivers the reducing atmosphere. The melting of the copper casting also requires charcoal as copper melts at 1083 ° C.

Culturally brought the Copper Age several changes: settlements in Central Europe were tend to be smaller, but more secured. They were mainly hills. Especially in the Mediterranean, the development of copper processing led to increased foreign trade. Copper from the Balkans was partly traded to Germany, like a copper plate found at Lake Constance proves.

Probably the utilization of metal led to a sharp social change. The first upper classes began to form – they controlled the mining and smelting of the metal. Then, the cemetery of Varna on the west coast of the Black Sea in Bulgaria to where a top layer with extremely rich gold grave goods buried (weapons, tools, jewelry, ceramics with gold plating).

In South America , there were from 1 Century a parallel development in the Moche culture, which in the area of the Pacific coast of northern Peru moved. On a narrow, but about 600 km long strip of coastal desert in the Mochica operated a profitable irrigated with guano fertilizer . The pottery was highly developed, as is the metal processing. Besides gold and silver handled the Mochica and produced copper and copper alloys, especially Tumbago . Technologically, it is also remarkable process of gilding copper.

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