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Charcoal remains from an Iron Age copper smelting slag heap at Feinan, Wadi Arabah (Jordan)

Thomas Engel
Vegetation History and Archaeobotany
Vol. 2, No. 4 (1993), pp. 205-211
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23416262
Page Count: 7
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Abstract

Charcoal remains were analysed from copper ore smelting at Khirbet en-Nahas, an Iron Age site in the region of Feinan between Wadi Arabah and the highland of Edom. For the first time, a section was dug into a stratified slag heap and separate charcoal samples were taken from each layer. Radiocarbon dates from the charcoal range from the 12th to the 9th century B.C. The main aim of this work was to find out whether the fuel species spectra change or remain constant over the period of metallurgical activity covered by this slag heap. Twelve samples totalling 2257 pieces amounting to 340.58 g of charcoal were analysed. The species composition is more or less the same in all samples. 14 species were identified. Approximately 50% of the material consisted of Tamarix species, 40% was Retama raetam, Phoenix dactylifera and Haloxylon persicum. Thus, the rapidly regenerating shrub vegetation within walking distance of the smelting place was used as fuel and remained unchanged during at least two to three centuries. Trees from the highland of Edom such as Juniperus phoenicea or Quercus calliprinos were not found here, although they were identified from Early Bronze Age sites a few kilometres up the wadis.

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