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Gold from Troy and Ur have the same origin

3 December 2022

This isa fascinating disvoery, see https://phys.org/news/2022-11-gold-troy-poliochni-ur.html … but something doesn’t quite ring true as they seem to be saying the gold in the Royal Tombs at Ur are the equivalent of gold jewellery of a similar style found in EB age Troy and at Poliochni on Lemnos, an island in the Aegean, and gold items from as far away as Georgia in the Transcaucasus – and even further afield. All of the examples, apart from Ur, and perhaps the Georgian, come from advanced EB period finds, whereas the royal tombs at Ur came into existence in the cool period of the Piorra Oscillation around 3200BC. Were the tombs still in use much later?

Never the less it is a good story and one to make you think of just how far and wide EB trading networks might be. We had a certain amount of suggestion of this from Ebla in Syria [Tell Mardikh] where  trade accounts seem to show very long trade routes. Gold is a highly valued substance so it is no surprise to find it traded even more extensively. Gold ornaments and jewellery dug up by archaeologists at Troy [Hissarlik], Poliochni on Lemnos, and in the royal tombs of Ur in Mesopotamia, appear to have the same geographic origin – as far as the raw material, gold, is concerned. It is suggested that sophisticated workshops churned out the stuff in a mass produced kind of way, and then found its way along the trade network. It also pops up in Georgia and the authors of the piece seem to think that might be the origin for the gold – if not the workmanship of the jewellery. However, the origin is unproven to date and is merely a theory. All they have established is that in the EB period there were trade routes into central Asia and the Indus region was all part of that network. The EB is also known for its official seals and standardised weights system, and here we have earrings with the same spiral patterns, and gemstones made of lapis lazuli [with an origin in Afghanistan], or shimmering carnelian. The idea of an origin in Georgia smacks of Jason and the Golden Fleece, a Greek tale of a much later period. I wonder if that was why the Georgian evidence was mooted. It just as easily originated north of the Caucasus in the advanced bronze using culture that seems to have been put to flight just before the onset of the EB period. A lot of these steppe people ended up in Europe – even in Greece, and no doubt others of them moved south through the Caucasus to spill into the Near East as various later hordes from the north did so. In other words, were the Ur samples earlier than those of Troy and Poliochni? The royal tombs of Ur appear to be replicas of kurgans from the steppe zone of southern Siberia and what is now the Ukraine. Anyone interested in reading the full article go to https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2022.105694 ..

The Uluburun shipwreck was the subject of an article by Robert Johnson in C & C Review a few years ago. Amazingly, scientists are still digging up interesting and surprising information from metal analysis and such things. It is in the news again even though it was discovered as long ago as 1982 – see https://phys.org/news/2022-11-year-old-uluburun-shipwreck-reveal-complex.html … It had a largely intact cargo which included lots of metal ingots. Research over the years has been most revealing but the latest discovery, teased out of the metal, is that small communities of highland pastroralists  living in what is now  Uzbekiston in central Asia, produced and supplied roughly one third of the tine found aboard the shipwreck. The tin was of course destined to be used to make bronze alloys – see https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abq3766 … The findings were made possible by geochemical analysis, and this displayed a high level of certainty, that some of the tin originated from a prehistoric mine in Uzbekistant and two thirds of the tin had an origin in a mine in the Taurus Mountains – north of Syria.


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