Innovative techniques used to sample gold from an early bronze age era

Researchers concluded that some of Ireland’s earliest gold artifacts were actually made from gold imported from Cornwall, Britain by making use of a new measuring technique.

“This is an unexpected and particularly interesting result as it suggests that Bronze Age gold workers in Ireland were making artifacts out of material sourced from outside of the country, despite the existence of a number of easily-accessible and rich gold deposits found locally,” said University of Southampton in Britain, lead author Chris Standish said.

“It is unlikely that knowledge of how to extract gold did not exist in Ireland, as we see large scale exploitation of other metals,” said Standish.   Before concluding “ It is more probable that an ‘exotic’ origin was cherished as a key property of gold and was an important reason behind why it was imported for production.”

An innovative technique called laser ablation mass spectrometry was used by researchers to sample gold from 50 artifacts coming from the early Bronze age.  Upon further analysis, the archaeologists decided the objects’ gold likely originated from Cornwall, instead of Ireland, most probably extracted and traded during the tin mining industry.

 

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Source: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-in-school/prehistoric-gold-trade-route-discovered/article7292305.ece

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