The Iron Age copper industrial complex: A preliminary study of the role of ground stone tools at Khirbat en-Nahas, Jordan
The first industrial revolution in the southern Levant crystallized during the Iron Age when copper production reached scales never before seen in this part of the Middle East. Ever since copper ore was first smelted during the Chalcolithic period, the Arabah valley, and its widespread distribution of copper mineralization, was the main source for copper ore in the region. The main ore deposits are located in Timna (Israel) in the southern part of the valley, and some 105 km to the north, in the Faynan region (Jordan). Faynan is the largest copper ore resource zone in the southern Levant. Excavations at the Iron Age Faynan site of Khirbat en-Nahas and the recent final publication of that project have revealed peaks in industrial-scale production during the 10th and 9th centuries BCE. However, the role of ground stone tools in the Iron Age copper industry in Faynan has not been systematically presented. This paper presents a preliminary study of the ground stone assemblage from one excavation season at Khirbat en-Nahas, thereby highlighting the great potential for ground stone tools research at the site. Using the chaîne opératoire method of technological study, this paper takes a quantitative approach to the typological, material, and spatial distribution of ground stone artefacts at Khirbat en-Nahas to understand their role in copper production. Ethnoarchaeological study of hereditary bronze casting workshops in southern India provides a compelling model of how ground stone tools played a critical role in one of the most important dimensions of metal production in all periods - recycling - in an Iron Age copper factory.
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