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Metallurgical traditions and metal exchange networks in late prehistoric central Myanmar, c. 1000 BC to c. AD 500
- Myanmar has been notably underrepresented in recent studies of archaeometallurgy in Southeast Asia, despite its richness in both mineral and cultural resources and its potentially central role in long-distance exchange networks linking India, China and peninsular neighbours. Here, we present original analytical data on copper-base artefacts from several Bronze Age and Iron Age sites in Myanmar. Observed microstructures range from as-cast, worked, to fully annealed; compositions include leaded copper, low-tin to high-tin bronzes, and arsenical copper/bronze. Lead isotope analyses indicate that the metal originates from different geological sources, including several that match the lead isotope signatures of known prehistoric copper mines in Thailand and Laos. These archaeometallurgical data, including evidence for secondary copper-base production, more than double those currently available for Myanmar and document the presence of multiple local alloying and working traditions, perhaps chronologically differentiated, as well as identifying possible links to primary mineral sources across the region. Overall, this adds significant new information to the emerging picture of Southeast Asian prehistoric metallurgy at the crossroads of several major ancient cultures.
Pryce, Thomas Oliver
Kalayar Myat Myat Htwe
Tin Tin Win
Thu Thu Win
- Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences