Metals in the Bronze Age

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It is commonly supposed that metals, and especially copper, were one of the most-traded goods in the Bronze Age period. This is largely attributable to the fact that some of the greatest metalworking centers, such as Mycenaean Greece, were not well provided with metal ores, and therefore had to import most of their metals. Some of the most important copper resources were Cyprus, Central Italy and Sardinia. Therefore, the distribution of metal ores in the central Mediterranean is a very significant element in relation with the Aegean presence in the area. The most important mining resources in mainland Italy are concentrated in the central Tyrrhenian region, and in Sardinia, where the main metal-ore deposits are concentrated in the center and south part of the island. As Bietti Sestieri (1988) argues, the systematic exploitation of the copper-ores in Calabria must not began prior to the end of the Italian Late Bronze Age.

This metal-ores distribution pattern can help us to understand the pattern of Aegean presence in Italy.


1) 16th-15th centuries BC (LH I - LH II).

During this period, Aegean material is found in three main areas: Apulia, the Aeolian Islands, and Vivara, in the Bay of Naples. Most of these finds appear to be of Mycenaean origin, although some sherds are clearly of Minoan or Cycladic origin (Cline 1994:78). This first phase of contact corresponds to the emergence of the Mycenaeans as the dominant group in mainland Greece. According to Ridgway (1992:5), the fact that these early Mycenaean foreign relations were primarily with the western Mediterranean probably reflects not only the immediate need for new metal sources but also the Minoan domination over the eastern Mediterranean trade routes.

2) 14th-13th centuries BC (LH IIIA - LH IIIB)

LH IIIA marks the beginning of the period...