Bronze Bagles from Tell en-Nasbeh

bronze bangleExcavation of Tell en-Nasbeh in northern Judah produced a wealth of Iron Age material culture, much of which has yet to be explored systematically. In order to understand the various roles of metal in Judean culture and economy, we chose to investigate bronze bangles from the site using a material science and contextual archaeological approach. The goal was to learn more of what the bangles were made of, how they were manufactured, and possible regions of origin. Due to corrosion processes and conservation efforts, analytical surface techniques were not appropriate, nor were invasive techniques, which would alter the appearance of the museum pieces. Thus, we used non-destructive synchrotron-radiation x-ray diffraction to obtain the bulk elemental composition and fluorescence for further clarification.

The excavation produced over 100 bronze bangles, most of which were found as grave goods though some may have had a more utilitarian function. There is no evidence that the bangles, all leaded tin-bronze, were manufacture on site. Where the ore was mined, smelted, cast, and subsequently worked has not been determined though an examination of regional resources suggests that the bangles may have came from Edom, Judah's neighbor. Contemporary mines at Feinan were in high production and leaded-tin bronze was being produced nearby. Although Judah and Edom are thought to have been political rivals, commerce existed between the two political entities. Social demands for bronze in Judah served to connect these polities economically, despite their political enmity.

Aaron Brody

References:

2008; co-authored with Elizabeth S. Friedman, Marcus L. Young, Jon D. Almer, Carlo U. Segre, and Susan M. Mini, "Synchrotron Radiation-Based X-ray Analysis of Bronze Artifacts from an Iron Age Site in the Judean Hills." Journal of Archaeological Science 35/7:1951-1960.

2007; co-authored with Elizabeth Friedman, "Bronze Bangles from Tell en-Nasbeh: Cultural and Economic Observations on an Artifact Type from the Time of the Prophets," in Robert B. Coote and Norman K. Gottwald, eds., To Break Every Yoke: Essays in Honor or Marvin L. Chaney. The Social World of Biblical Antiquity, Second Series, 3; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, pp. 97-114.