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Iron, fuel and slags: reconstructing the ironworking processes in Iberian Iron Age (Valencian Region)

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In this paper we present the archaeological data related to ironworks in the territory of Kelin (4th-3rd centuries BC). We have analysed the different phases of the process through the distribution of raw materials, iron oxides, production waste and
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  In this paper we present the archaeological data related to ironworks in the territory of Kelin (4th-3rd centuries BC). We have analysed the different phases of the process through the distributionof raw materials, iron oxides, production waste and manufactured products as well as some struc-tures such as furnaces and forges. Furthermore, metallographic analysis allows us to know thenature and the phases of the ironworking process. Our goal is to reconstruct the operative chainfrom the mines to the resulting iron tools and weapons in order to approach deeply the impor-tance and organization of ironworks in the Iberian society. KEYWORDS IBERIAN PENINSULA, SIDERURGY, MINES, ORE, PRODUCTION WASTE, WORKSHOPS En este trabajo se presenta toda la información disponible en la actualidad sobre la siderurgia delterritorio de Kelin entre los siglos IV y III a.C. Se analizan las diferentes fases del proceso de pro-ducción desde la distribución de materias primas, los desechos de producción y los productosmanufacturados así como los hornos y forjas. Además, los análisis metalográficos aportan infor-mación sobre las fases del proceso siderúrgico. El objetivo es reconsruir la cadena operativa desdeel trabajo en las minas a las herramientas y armamento, así como profundizar en la importanciay la organización de lo talleres siderúrgicos en la sociedad ibérica. PALABRAS CLAVE PENÍNSULA IBÉRICA, SIDERURGIA, MINAS, MINERAL, RESIDUOS DE PRODUCCIÓN TALLERES Iron, Fuel and Slags: Reconstructingthe Ironworking Process in IberianIron Age (Valencian Region) C ONSUELO M ATA P ARREÑO Universitat de València. Departament de Prehistòria i ArqueologiaAv. Blasco Ibáñez, 28, E-46010 Valènciaconsuelo.mata@uv.es A NDREA M ORENO M ARTÍN Universitat de València. Departament de Prehistòria i Arqueologia.Av. Blasco Ibáñez, 28, E-46010 Valènciaandrea.moreno@uv.es M IGUEL Á NGEL F ERRER E RES Archaeologist 105  PYRENAE, núm. 40 , vol. 2 (2009) ISSN: 0079-8215 (p. 105-127)  REVISTA DE PREHISTÒRIA I ANTIGUITAT DE LA MEDITERRÀNIA OCCIDENTAL JOURNAL OF WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN PREHISTORY AND ANTIQUITYData de recepció: 07-11-2008. Data d’acceptació: 21-10-2009 Pyrenae 40-2 001-187_Pyrenae 28/12/09 16:38 Página 105  C ONSUELO M ATA ; A NDREA M ORENO ; M IGUEL Á NGEL F ERRER Iron, Fuel and Slags… 106  PYRENAE, núm. 40 , vol. 2 (2009) ISSN: 0079-8215 (p. 105-127)  Introduction The Second Iron Age begins in the East of the Iberian Peninsula in the 6th century BC. Itis known as Iberian Culture due to the fact that ancient Greek and Latin writers namedthese people Iberians. The Iberians were the native pre-roman inhabitants of theMediterranean  façade of the peninsula, from Andalusia until the Pyrenees, including part-ly the inlands of the Ebro basin and SE France until the Hérault river.The concept of Iberian Culture is then an archaeological coinage and it’s widely definedas different peoples who developed a high degree of urbanization, complex and comple-mentary economic strategies (agricultural practice, metallurgy, stockbreeding, crafts, etc.),exchanges and trade in different scales, standardised funerary rituals, existence of elitesand independent sociopolitical territories based on hierarchical urban societies (for fur-ther reading in English: Ruiz and Molinos, 1998; Grau, 2003; Sanmartí, 2004; Buxò, 2008).The classical written sources give different ethnic names (Bastetani, Cessetani, Contestani,Edetani, and Turdetani among others), but offer some contradictions on the descriptionand distribution of these peoples and their territories. The Iberian territories are charac-terised by a complex, hierarchical settlement pattern which includes oppida (high rank set-tlements), farmsteads and rural hamlets, hill forts, ritual places (caves, sanctuaries) andnecropolis (Bonet, 1995; Ruiz, 1997; Asensio et al  ., 1998; Mata et al  ., 2001: 309-326; Grau,2002).The current Valencian region was inhabited by three main ethnics: Ilercavoni  , Edetani  and Contestani  (from North to South). The territory we study was not explicitly named bythe Roman and Greek writers so we do not know which was the ethnicity or the namegiven to their inhabitants. Nevertheless, after two decades of surveys and excavations, wecan affirm that these people were Iberians, but not Edetani  as some authors have suggested(Mata, 2001; Uroz, 1983). Despite the fact that they occupied the inland of the currentValencian province, this community presents the main socio-cultural features that respondto an Iberian entity, namely wheel-made pottery productions, different types ofMediterranean imports, standardised decorations and productions, metallurgy, complextown planning and hierarchical settlement pattern, social inequality, cremation as thefunerary ritual, epigraphic evidences on stones, pottery and lead, and local monetarycoinage among others characteristics. In this sense, we approach the definition of the ter-ritory through the settlement pattern and the material culture recovered.Los Villares (Caudete de las Fuentes, València) is an Iberian oppidum (7th-1st BC),which becomes the central place of a large territory from the 5th century BC. This site has been identified through the numismatics as the ancient Iberian city of Kelin (Ripollès, 1979,1980 and 2001). As other Iberian cities, Kelin organised a large territory through a hier-archical settlement pattern and complex socioeconomic strategies and relationships (mines,saltmines, metallurgy, kilns, wine and olive oil production, local productions and imports)(Lorrio [ed.], 2001; Mata et al  ., 2001: 309-326; Mata et al  ., 2009; Moreno & Quixal, inpress). This area is located between two cultural and biogeographical zones: the coast, Pyrenae 40-2 001-187_Pyrenae 28/12/09 16:38 Página 106  107  C ONSUELO M ATA ; A NDREA M ORENO ; M IGUEL Á NGEL F ERRER Iron, Fuel and Slags… PYRENAE, núm. 40 , vol. 2 (2009) ISSN: 0079-8215 (p. 105-127)  occupied by Iberians and the inlands, the Meseta, by Celtiberians. The territory, in amacrospatial perspective, is geographically well delimited by Sierra de las Cabrillas in theEast, Turia river in the North, Cabriel river in the South and West. Culturally, the territo-ry has been defined through the presence of local pottery productions (Iberian red glazeceramics, impressed decorations), numismatics and other features such as the existenceof surpluses, exchanges and trade, viewshed patterns and a net of interdependent settle-ments and sites (Mata,1991; Mata et al  ., 2001: 309-326; Moreno, 2006 and 2008).From the surveys and excavation projects that have been carried out, we can offer a better and deeper knowledge of the territorial organization and the emergence of sociopo-litical complexity. All these archaeological evidences reflect a hierarchical settlement pat-tern and the construction of a cultural identity through the appropriation of the landscape.Our intention here is to offer an example of this kind of strategies through the analysis ofthe ironworking activities, putting the emphasis in the reconstruction of the whole processand offering unpublished data.In this regard, as from the 6th century, perhaps earlier, Iberian peoples developed irontechnology in order to make complex tools and weapons. The known repertoire of theseiron pieces is remarkable (Pla, 1968; Sanahuja, 1971), although archaeological records onmining activities and workshops are scarcer than expected.The study of craft activities in Iberian archaeology, such as metallurgy or pottery pro-duction, has advanced more slowly than research on food production and paleoenviron-ment. In addition, the waning popularity of works on material culture,  sensu stricto , hasled to a reduction in publications on other topics, this in turn resulting in poor knowledgeof documented repertoires whether in pottery, metalwork, or others. As a consequence,research on workplaces and resource procurement includes little documentation, apartfrom mere cataloguing and description. It was not until the last decade of the 20th cen-tury that research developed subjects related to technology and metalwork processes. Asa result, appendixes inclusive of archaeometallurgical studies of specific pieces were intro-duced, but syntheses of the whole process are still rare (Rovira Llorens, 2000: 215-216;Rovira Hortalà, 2000).We do not know much about metallurgical workshops despite the fact that —basedon the amount and variety of metal objects known in the Iberian world— this type ofwork must have been a specialised task developed in many settlements. Information anddocumentation on mining at the time is even scarcer, both in relation with practices andthelocation of mining and extraction sites. Traditionally, their study did not raise much interestin the Valencian region, possibly because it is an area poor in metals if compared to otherregions in the Iberian Peninsula.Consequently, we believe the novelties offered by the survey project “Kelin’s territo-ry between the 6th and 1st century BC” and here presented to be important and enrich-ing to approach closely ancient ironworks (Fig. 1). Based on the data obtained in thisregion, by prospecting and excavating, we can now offer a preliminary reconstruction ofthe operative chain of the iron process taking into account different scales and activities. Pyrenae 40-2 001-187_Pyrenae 28/12/09 16:38 Página 107  C ONSUELO M ATA ; A NDREA M ORENO ; M IGUEL Á NGEL F ERRER Iron, Fuel and Slags… 108  PYRENAE, núm. 40 , vol. 2 (2009) ISSN: 0079-8215 (p. 105-127)  Fig. 2. (a) On the top left a map of the Iberian Peninsula. (b) On the top right, a magnification of the squared area in the previousimage which refers to the current Valencian region. (c) Below, a map of the study area with the sites concerned in this paper: 1, LaMina (Tuéjar); 2, Loma de la Laguna (Talayuelas); 3, Campo de Herrerías (Sinarcas); 4, Charco Negro II (Benagéber); 5, El Carrascal(Sinarcas); 6, Punto de Agua (Benagéber); 7, Los Chotiles (Sinarcas); 8, Cerro de San Cristóbal (Sinarcas); 9, Cerrito Cavero (Sinarcas);10, La Maralaga (Sinarcas); 11, La Relamina (Sinarcas); 12, Collado de la Plata (Aliaguilla); 13, Tinada Guandonera II (Aliaguilla); 14,ElMolón (Camporrobles); 15, Casas del Alaud (Mira); 16, Hoya de la Escoria (Utiel); 17, Cerro de la Peladilla (Fuenterrobles); 18, Escuela1 (Caudete de las Fuentes); 19, Kelin (Caudete de las Fuentes); 20, La Atalaya (Caudete de las Fuentes); 21, Cuesta de los Civiles(Villargordo del Cabriel); 22, La Atalayuela (Venta del Moro); 23, Casa Sevilluela (Venta del Moro); 24, PUR-2 (Villargordo del Cabriel);25, El Moluengo (Villargordo del Cabriel); 26, Casillas del Cura (Venta del Moro); 27, El Zoquete (Requena); 28, Muela de Arriba(Requena); 29, Casa de la Alcantarilla (Requena); 30, Cerro de la Cabeza (Requena); 31, Casas del Carrascalejo (Requena); 32, LosAlerises (Requena); 33, Cerro Santo (Requena); 34, Hortunas de Abajo (Requena). Pyrenae 40-2 001-187_Pyrenae 28/12/09 16:38 Página 108  Thus, from a macro-spatial perspective, we will deal with how mining resources wereexploited and then processed on an inter-site basis, and finally we will analyse the pres-ence of iron-related activities and manufactured products in domestic contexts. Ironworking: Approaching the Process The command of ironworks was an important development in comparison with other met-allurgies, as the possibilities of ferric metals are more varied and effective. Technologicalinnovations behind this practice brought along higher farming and stockbreeding pro-ductiveness as a result to more effective tools, and general improvements in construction,transport and craftsmanship, apart from the new dimensions that they meant for panoplies(for further reading: Mohen, 1990; Feugère & Gustin, 2000; Pleiner, 2000, 2006).The lack of historical sources that could help us understand metalwork processes inIberian Culture causes us to resort to empirical archaeological evidences and their metal-lographic analyses in order to reconstruct the iron process: raw materials such as fuel andore (charcoal and iron oxides), production waste (slag), related waste (furnace walls) andmanufactured products. Prospecting and excavation work in Kelin has documented iron-working evidences in 34 sites between the 6th and the 1st century (Fig. 1 and table 1).Some of the materials recovered have been analysed by Metallographic Microscopy,Scanning Electronic Microscopy (SEM) and Energy Dispersive X-ray Microanalysis (EDX),identifying draining slag from direct reduction furnaces, slag from domestic forges, andslag embedded in the metal structure and wall lining of the furnace (Ferrer, 2000: 283-289; Ferrer et al  ., 2002a, 2002b). Consequently, the existence of these evidences are themain variables and arguments to reconstruct the production chain.These data will be used as a thread in this paper and to analyse and complement recentnovelties. Extraction sites It is difficult for archaeologists to track down mineral extraction sites. Although iron oreis abundant on the earth’s crust, the iron production technique used in protohistory con-sisted in mining the oxidised outcrop, i.e. exploitation of the superficial layer of the vein(surface mining). This variety was in operation until the 19th century possibly due to itseasy access. However, although many of these mining sites are either exhausted or nolonger profitable nowadays, the toponymy of some places can actually help us track downpossible mining areas, for instance Rincón de la Mina (Mining Corner), Hoya de la Escoria 109  C ONSUELO M ATA ; A NDREA M ORENO ; M IGUEL Á NGEL F ERRER Iron, Fuel and Slags… PYRENAE, núm. 40 , vol. 2 (2009) ISSN: 0079-8215 (p. 105-127)  Pyrenae 40-2 001-187_Pyrenae 28/12/09 16:38 Página 109
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