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Moving metals or indigenous mining?

Journal article
Authors Johan Ling
Eva Hjärthner-Holdar
Lena Grandin
Kjell Billström
Per-Olof Persson
Published in Journal of Archaeological Science
Volume 40
Issue 1
Pages 291–304
ISSN 0305-4403
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Historical Studies
Pages 291–304
Language en
Subject categories History and Archaeology


The aim of this study is to further the discussion as to whether copper was extracted locally or imported to Sweden during the Bronze Age or if both of these practices could have coexisted. For this purpose, we have carried out lead isotope and chemical analyses of 33 bronze items, dated between 1600BC and 700BC. Among these are the famous Fröslunda shields and the large scrap hoard from Bräckan and other items from three regions in southern Sweden which are also renowned for their richness in copper ores. It is obvious from a comparison that the element and lead isotope compositions of the studied bronze items diverge greatly from those of spatially associated copper ores. Nor is there any good resemblance with other ores from Scandinavia, and it is concluded that the copper in these items must have been imported from elsewhere. The results furthermore indicate that there are variations in metal supply that are related to chronology, in agreement with other artefacts from Scandinavia as well as from other parts of Europe. Altogether these circumstances open up for a discussion regarding Scandinavia’s role in the maritime networks during the Bronze Age.

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