Researchers from Heidelberg University and the Curt Engelhorn Centre for Archaeometry in Mannheim, Germany, recently examined ancient tin artefacts from the second millennium BCE collected from archaeological sites in Israel, Turkey, and Greece. They were able to confirm that the tin used in their manufacture came from ore deposits in Europe rather than Central Asia, as had previously been assumed. Their findings prove that as early as the Bronze Age extensive trade routes existed between Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean as indicated in Ezekiel 27.

Bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, was produced in the Middle East from the late fourth and third millennia BCE. “Bronze was used to make weapons, jewellery, and all types of daily objects, justifiably bequeathing its name to an entire epoch. The origin of tin has long been an enigma in archaeological research”, explains Prof Dr Ernst Pernicka, who until his retirement worked at both the Institute for Earth Sciences of Heidelberg University as well as the Curt Engelhorn Centre for Archaeometry. “Tin objects and deposits are rare in Europe and Asia. The Eastern Mediterranean region, where some of the objects we studied originated, had practically none of its own deposits. So, the raw material in this region must have been imported”, explained the researcher.

Using lead and tin isotope data as well as trace element analysis, the Heidelberg-Mannheim research team led by Prof Pernicka and Dr Daniel Berger verified that the tin used came from European ore deposits. In their conclusion they stated: “The tin isotope composition helps to further narrow down the tin origin, and in combination with trace elements it points to Cornish tin ores as the most likely sources.” “These results specifically identify the origin of tin metal for the first time and therefore give rise to new insights and questions for archaeological research”, stated Dr Berger, who conducts research at the Curt Engelhorn Centre for Archaeometry


Source: “The enigma of bronze age tin.” ScienceDaily, 13 September 2019.