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In Central Asia of the early Middle Ages, belt sets and other horseman and horse ornaments, amulets, and other objects made mainly of copper-based alloys were popular among the Turkic-speaking and other peoples. The characteristic decor of objects indicates the principal directions of cultural infl uence: provisional south-west (East Turkestan, Central Asia, Middle and even the Near East) and south-east (China). The study of the metal composition of these products suggests their different origins, however, it cannot be specifi ed where they could be manufactured without knowing the general picture of copper-smelting centres in settled states with developed craft tradition surrounding “steppe people”. The paper presents the results of applying modern analytical methods in the research of oriental early medieval bronze and brass. We restrict our attention here to the period of domination of Turkic Khanate and Umayyad Caliphate until Mongol invasion in Central Asia. Particular attention is paid to the connection between metalworking techniques for artifacts of different purpose and elemental compositions of bronzes and brass.The results indicate that the concentration of different components (Cu, Pb, Sn, Zn) in the alloys such as bronze and brass infl uenced the metalworking technology used for a particular object. The composition of alloys and the associated method of production are affected by cultural traditions and the availability of resources and technologies. Many copperbased metal objects were examined using X-ray fl uorescence analysis, energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry, atomic absorption spectrometry, and inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry. Interdisciplinary methods make it possible to investigate medieval technologies more accurately and understand the direction of development of the metalworking techniques more deeply, as well as to trace the interaction of cultural and technological traditions in the vast region of Asian continent. It is proposed to consider this period as a transitional stage in the development of Central Asian copper metalworking, since during this period the old traditional formulations of bronze alloys still remained while new cast techniques emerged related to the incorporation of zinc into the elemental compositions of the copper-based metal objects.The authors suggest that the Mongol conquest should be considered the fi nal event of the transition period, after which brass spread across the region. India and China known as traditional centres of bronze casting metallurgy started producing brass objects since the 12th–13th and 14th century correspondingly. This is the beginning of a new era in the history of metallurgy.


Copper-based alloys circulation, elemental analysis, archaeometallurgical studies, bronze and brass technology of metalworking, Central Asia region, the Middle Ages.

Eduard А. Greshnikov, National research center “Kurchatov institute”, Moscow, Russia, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Galina G. Korol, Institute of Archaeology RAS, Moscow, Russia, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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