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ArticleName Archeometallurgical evidence and geological prerequisites for brass production at Elizavetovsk settlement
DOI 10.17580/tsm.2019.12.08
ArticleAuthor Rylov V. G., Rylova N. E.

Southern Federal University, Institute of Earth Sciences, Rostov-on-Don, Russia:

V. G. Rylov, Associate Professor, Candidate of Geological and Mineralogical Sciences, e-mail:


Rostov State Medical University, Department of History, Rostov-on-Don, Russia:
N. E. Rylova, Associate Professor, Candidate of Historical Sciences


This paper describes the results of a study that looked at the copper-zinc alloy discovered during excavation works at the site of the ancient Scythian Elizavetovsk settlement on the Don (late 1st quarter of 5th century BC — 1st third of 3rd century BC) as impregnated high-zinc brass found in the slag filler of a ceramic censer. The comparative analysis of the microstructure and elemental composition of the copper-zinc impurities found in the ceramic item and in the items made by local steel makers was carried out by the laboratory of the Southern Federal University with the help of a scanning electron microscope and an energy dispersive mass-spectrometer. Polished microsections were used for the analysis which were obtained from the dumped remains of a foundry (Dig Site No. XXXVI). The obtained data indicate that the composition of the dumped material of the Elizavetovsk settlement appears to be close to arsenious lead-tin bronze with high concentrations of antimony, gold and silver, as is the case with the majority of ceremonial items discovered at the closest burial sites. At the time the local foundry men did not know how to make brass, which is suggested by an absolute lack of zinc in the metal processing cycle. Analysis of experimental data and archeological sources suggests that the brass of the Elizavetovsk settlement has an allochthonous nature, and the corresponding production process (based on recovery of zinc from hemimorphite (calamine) on a burning hot copper surface) had been known of in the South-Siberian Mining and Metallurgical Region, Trans-Baikal Region, Mongolia and China long before it became widely spread in Egypt and Central and Western Europe.
This research project was funded by the Southern Federal University.

keywords Eastern Azov region, Elizavetovsk settlement, Scythians, centre of metallurgy, copper, metal working, tin-lead bronze, brass, South-Siberian Mining and Metallurgical Region

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