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Ore deposits

Translation »White« metals in old graves. The Regional Museum of Carniola keeps items of jewellery from several sites of the region, which are not made of bronze or iron, the predominant materials, but of white metals. These are. more

Translation

»White« metals in old graves.

The Regional Museum of Carniola keeps items of jewellery from several sites of the region, which are not made of bronze or iron, the predominant materials, but of white metals.

These are the following:

A) From Vače:

1. Inv. No. 443. Cowrie, Cypraea moneta, filled up with metal.

2. Inv. Nos. 711–713. Three small round plates of 12 mm diameter with a loop for suspension.

3. Inv. No. 714. A fragment of a bracelet made from a circular rod of 8 mm in diameter.

B) From Mokronog:

4. Inv. No. 1755. A bracelet made from a metal band of 21 mm in width and 4 mm thickness. The edges are slightly bent inwards. The bracelet is not closed and has an internal diameter of 65 mm.

5. Inv. No. 1756. A closed bracelet, a simple ring made from a circular rod of 10 mm thickness. The internal diameter is 75. 79 mm.

C) From Cerknica:

6. Inv. No. 3060–3061. Fragments of a bracelet like No. 4, 25 mm wide.


7. Inv. No. 3084. A fragment of a small ring of 3 cm diameter.

8. Inv. No. 3085. A flat ring with 6 knobs with an external diameter of 14 mm.

9. Inv. No. 3105. A fragment of a flat bracelet like Nos. 4 and 6, 28 mm wide, 3 mm thick.

10. Inv. No. 3106. A fragment of a hollow cast bracelet. Thickness 9. 12 mm, thickness of metal 1 mm.

D) From Rovišče:

11. Inv. No. 1510. Irregular piece of metal of 3 cm length.

Nos. 1, 2, 5, 7, 8 and 11 appeared to be lead based on visual analysis, without chemical analysis, but Nos. 3, 4, 6, 9 and 10 revealed a different condition.

I have therefore exposed these to a test with a blowpipe. This could be done much more easily because these objects are fragmented.

Out of the cited dubious pieces Nos. 4 and 10 have shown the characteristic reaction to lead – the yellow coating on the charcoal. – No. 3 indicated tin; – regulus without coating. – Surprising, however, was the reaction of Nos. 6 and 9. The sample smelted lightly in front of the flame of the blowpipe, it was evaporating.

The coating was white. This was the reaction to antimony.

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I gave small samples of Nos. 3 and 9 to Mister B. Knapič, Prof. of Chemistry at the imperial-royal Realschule in Ljubljana, to examine them in a wet way. This cautious expert also determined tin for No.

3 and antimony for No. 9.

Tin, the metal, which was known for the production of bronze long ago, is an imported English product. But lead is certainly a local product, since, to mention temporarily only individual cases, in the area of the graves on Magdalenska gora near Šmarje not far from Ljubljana, in Vače, in Mokronog (Ajdovske jame) etc. lead mines or lead ore deposits are known. Antimony shows a different case.

As far as I know, antimony appears in Carniola at four find spots. Hrastnik near Trojane in the Alpine black coal formation, and Jesenovo near Čemšenik, the origin of a hand piece (ein Handstück) owned by the Regional Museum of Carniola as a present of C. Wieland under Inv. No.

558. The third is near Češnjice (Kerschstätten) at Lukovica in the deanery of Moravče, according to kind information of Prof. Voss. Finally, I was informed by Prof.

Knapič that previously his expertise had been requested by a peasant from the Tuštanj area near Moravče to identify a stibnite crystal (Antimonitstufe). – He probably supposed it to be a silver ore. Therefore the possibility that these simple bracelets were produced of Carniolan antimony, which was taken for a type of lead, should not be excluded.

I have already pointed out in my “Emona” publication and also stressed it in this journal that all our so-called “prehistoric” finds turned around the old industry. The wealth of the graves reflects the wealth of the living people and this has to have an economic background, like richly profitable agriculture in a fertile plain, or industry, or trade, or finally plunder.

Here in Carniola it is, I suppose, less likely to be the first one since, the Carniolan agriculture because of a not favourable soil probably could not have drawn either those amber beads almost as large as a fist from the coastal areas of the North Sea or Egyptian glass objects. So the wealth of Carniola was likely due to the industry and the trade connected with it.

This question should be discussed and studied today from this point of view. If not, the whole thing sinks down to the amateurism and anecdotes, the pertaining collections become simply “miracle chambers” and an important German historian might have expressed the sentence, maybe not completely unjustified: “La science de la préhistoire est la science de l’ignorance.”

Müllner.

I found iron slag in this Gradišče already in 1873; it is an industrial gradišče; its graves were excavated by the Regional Museum in 1882.

The translation was proof-read by Adrienne Frie, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (USA).

Ljubljana, January 3, 2014

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