Earliest Lead and Precious Metal Discoveries in Anatolia
Some Reflections on the Context and Technology
Early skills in processing native metals are one of the key aspects of Anatolia's prehistoric development. The copper artefacts of the aceramic sites at Çayönü, Nevali Çori and Asikli Höyük, which were mainly cold-hammered but partly also annealed, continue to be the earliest signs of deliberate processing of metals in the Old World.
A key goal of research is to determine more precisely the beginning of extractive metallurgy because large-scale melting and recycling of metals opened up completely new possibilities for producing and selling raw materials and finished products. The technical and economic consequences - diverse, partly "exotic" alloying techniques as well as rich burial-site discoveries and hoards - shape our archaeological picture of the Bronze Age in Asia Minor towards the end of the third millennium B.C.
This essay provides a renewed compilation and reassessment of lead, silver and gold articles known until now from Anatolia in the late fourth and early third millennia B.C. It is proved that lead and gold deposits were - though on a smaller scale than about half a millennium later - extracted by late Chalcolithic Age communities and used to produce small items of jewellery or, in the case of Arslantepe, to serve as exotic alloying elements.