4,000-year-old toolkit found near Stonehenge for gold works – ARTnews.com

Archaeologists have determined that an ancient toolkit found near Stonehenge was used to make a variety of gold items.

According to new research published in the journal AntiqueITythe microscopic remains on the surface of the tools are ancient gold, revealing that these stone items and copper alloys were used as hammers and anvils, and to smooth the objects forged.

“This is a really exciting find for our project,” said Rachel Crellin, lead author and archaeologist at the University of Leicester, in a statement. “What our work revealed was the modest stone tool set that was used to make gold objects thousands of years ago.”

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Originally discovered in 1801, the toolkit was found in the Upton Lovell G2a tomb which is believed to date back to the Bronze Age, circa 1850-1700 BC. It was marked by an earthen mound near Stonehenge, and initial investigations revealed two people and an extensive collection of grave goods.

One figure is placed seated upright, with its head close to the top of the barrow, and is buried with an arm ring of shale and a necklace of polished rock beads. The other person was wearing a ceremonial gown, with bone points pierced as a necklace, thought to be a specialist’s costume.

Early speculation indicated that the person draped in the hood was a “shaman” of special ritual significance, or an important and skilled craftsman. Now, researchers have discovered that the toolkit was used to make objects in which a base material — such as jet, shale, amber, wood, or copper — was covered with a layer of gold plate.

The processes included making ornaments from the ribs and grooves, punching holes, fitting the base object to gold sheets, and smoothing and polishing the finished objects. Some of the tools were already ancient, making them thousands of years old when reused. There was even a whole battle axe, which was reused for metalworking.

The paper explains that “these battle axes were far from the only smooth stones that could have been selected for these purposes.” “By intentionally repurposing the purpose of these objects, their histories undermine the materials they were working with.”

The researchers used a scanning electron microscope as well as an energy dispersive spectrometer to confirm their findings. There are gold residues on five of the artifacts, where they found gold flecks on the surface as well as distinct traces of erosion from the gold working process. In addition, the team suggests that the bone points from the “shaman’s costume” could be used to craft gold.

By exploring the use of materials through a technique called microwear analysis, which identifies microscopic signs on objects, [we can] Oliver Harris, co-author and archaeologist at the University of Leicester, said in an email to: ARTnews. “We showed how important stone was to the gold-making process, and how stones with preferential characteristics and dates were chosen to be part of the practice.”

According to the paper, “There is much more complexity here, in relationships, history, gestures and processes, than can be captured under the title ‘shaman’ or ‘metalworker’ or ‘goldsmith’… [our] The analysis suggests that gold-making may have been different from other forms of metal production and may, from a Bronze Age perspective, not be seen as a metal at all, but rather as something with its own relational properties that were very different from those intertwined with copper and tin. “

The collection of tools and associated finds are currently on display at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes.

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