Evidence of arsenical copper smelting in Bronze Age China: A study of metallurgical slag from the Laoniupo site, central Shaanxi

Publication date: June 2017Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 82
Author(s): Kunlong Chen, Siran Liu, Yanxiang Li, Jianjun Mei, Anding Shao, Lianjian Yue
Previous archaeometallurgical studies on Bronze Age China mainly focused on finished artefacts, whereas our understanding of copper smelting technology of this period is still limited. This paper, for the first time, presents analytical results of metal production remains from the site of Laoniupo in Guanzhong Plain, central Shaanxi. It reveals that arsenical copper was produced at this site by smelting arsenic-rich polymetallic ores with raw copper or high purity copper ores. The identification of metal production in the Guanzhong Plain is significant for the investigation of regional development and inter-regional interaction of Bronze Age cultures in China. The possible exploitation of ores from deposits in the Qinling Mountain region during this period is also discussed in this article.