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Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 15–31 | Cite as

Investigation of early Bronze Age civilizations in Yunnan: a scientific analysis of metallurgical relics found at the Guangfentou ruins in Jiangchuan

  • Guisen Zou
  • Jianfeng CuiEmail author
  • Xu Liu
  • Xiaorui Li
  • Rui Min
Original Paper
  • 221 Downloads

Abstract

We herein report on an examination of the compositions of copper relics unearthed from the Guangfentou site in Jiangchuan, Yunnan, China. Scanning electron microscopy combined with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SED-EDS), metallographic microscopy, and lead isotope ratio analysis were used to analyze 20 metallurgical relics. The results indicated that the relics were either copper metal or copper slag. The copper metal was composed of either metallic copper or tin bronze, while the copper slags were either smelting slag or melting slag, with the melting slags being composed of refining or alloying slag. The Guangfentou site in the Jiangchuan county contains an extraordinarily complete set of bronze metallurgical relics from the Bronze Age of Yunnan. The processes involved in this site include smelting of sulfidic ores, refining of primary raw copper, bronze alloying, and bronze casting. This was an important metallurgical site in the ancient Dian Kingdom and has provided clues that will aid in efforts to reveal the origins of bronze smelting technologies and the sources of the copper ores used by the ancient Dian civilization.

Keywords

Archaeometallurgy Guangfentou site Copper slags Bronze culture Dian Kingdom 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the National High-Level Personnel Special Support Program (Ten Thousand Talents Program), the “Young Talents Program” sponsored by the Beijing City School of Higher Education, and the National Social Science Fund (project approval number 15ZDB057, “Research on Porcelain Exported from Ancient China Unearthed in Africa and the Maritime Silk Road”). We would also like to thank Professor Li Yanxiang and Dr. Liu Siran from the University of Science and Technology, Beijing for their guidance in our experiments and the process of writing this paper. We also thank Professor Wu Xiaohong and Senior Engineer Huang Baoling from Peking University for their support during this study.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guisen Zou
    • 1
  • Jianfeng Cui
    • 2
    Email author
  • Xu Liu
    • 3
  • Xiaorui Li
    • 3
  • Rui Min
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Cultural Heritage and History of Science and TechnologyUniversity of Science and Technology BeijingBeijingChina
  2. 2.School of Archaeology and MuseologyPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Yunnan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and ArchaeologyKunmingChina

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