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Experiments Concerning the Mold Materials Used in the Production of the Copper Ingots from the Late Bronze Age Shipwreck Excavated at Uluburun, Turkey.

Thomas S. Larson
Thesis: August 2009
Chair: Pulak
Nautical Archaeology Program

Underwater excavations of a Late Bronze Age shipwreck at Uluburun, Turkey recovered a combined 475 oxhide and plano-convex discoid copper ingots. While the hoard of ingots excavated at Uluburun brings the total number of copper ingots from the Late Bronze Age to over 1000, interestingly, only one ingot mold from the that period has been identified. Scholars have speculated over the means behind the creation of these ingots for decades, but with a relative absence of archaeological molds the most promising method of reaching any conclusions as to the types of molds used in antiquity seems to be experimentation. Experimental archaeology, has, in recent years been responsible for many breakthroughs in how the past is viewed. In the face of an overwhelming disparity of copper ingot molds from the Late Bronze Age, trials designed around testing different mold materials and casting techniques have the potential to determine, with relative certainty, how copper ingots were cast over 3000 years ago. This thesis examines the possible materials used to create copper ingot molds through a study of their prevalence in antiquity and also details experiments in which these materials were used, in concert with different casting techniques, to create copper ingots. The results of these experiments are combined with analyses of the Uluburun ingots in an effort to bring some closure to the debate surrounding copper ingot molds in the Late Bronze Age.

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