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(2,746 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel) | Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin)
[German version] I. Definition of technology Technology describes the ensemble of tools, devices and procedures used for the acquisition and transformation of materials, the production and transportation of foodstuffs and consumables, the erection of structures, the provision of infrastructure, and the storage of information. The devices and procedures employed in different areas of technology are not independent of one another; rather, they constitute a technological complex with many interdependenci…


(636 words)

Author(s): Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) | M.PU.
Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) [German version] I. The Ancient Orient The winch, as a mechanical device for moving and lifting or lowering objects, is not attested archaeologically in Egypt nor in the Ancient Near East. However, its functional components, the spool with protruding crank arm (handspikes) for the application of muscle power (horizontal spool = reel, vertical spool = windlass), the pulley for transferring or diverting the applied force, the rope/hawser with the drum for winding and unwinding it, …


(1,451 words)

Author(s): Riederer, Josef (Berlin) | Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin)
[German version] I. Definition and properties Pure copper is relatively rare in nature. Also, it quickly turns into secondary minerals through oxidation and therefore was hardly available as a usable material for early cultures. It was obtained through the smelting of copper ores. In metal form, copper can be processed and worked on in many ways. From early on, a large part of the processed copper was used to create alloys with  tin,  lead, and zinc, which are superior to pure copper in technical usab…

Ivory carvings

(904 words)

Author(s): Niemeyer, Hans Georg (Hamburg) | Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) | Prayon, Friedhelm (Tübingen) | Neudecker, Richard (Rome)
[German version] I. Middle East and Phoenicia Ivory, i.e. tusks of the boar, the hippopotamus and particularly the (African as well as Asian)  elephant, was extremely popular from the Neolithic period onwards as a material in ‘craftwork’. In the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age, the important workshops of the Syrian-Phoenician coastal towns and also of Egypt developed styles that were recognizably their own. Ivory carvings (IC) were widespread through intensive trade and almost always formed part of t…


(1,832 words)

Author(s): Platz-Horster, Gertrud (Berlin) | Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) | Pingel, Volker (Bochum)
(ὕαλος; hýalos or ὕελος; hýelos, vitrum) [German version] I. Methods of Glass Production Glass is a mixture of silicic acid (silicon dioxide, quartz or quartz sand) and alkali (soda, sodium bicarbonate or potash) as flux [2; 7; 8]. Since it was apparently unknown in antiquity that alkali makes the mixture water-soluble, only glass with sufficient lime to neutralize this reaction is preserved. Producers of raw glass (ὑελέψης; hyelépsēs or ὑαλοψός; hyalopsós) knew from experience which sand (ψάμμος ὑαλικός; psámmos hyalikós) or which calcareous plant ashes made the glass durable. Up i…

Sculpting, technique of

(1,584 words)

Author(s): Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) | Neudecker, Richard (Rome)
[German version] I. Near East The oldest examples of a developed sculptural technique in stone from the Ancient Near East are from the later 4th millennium BC (Uruk). The most important genres of monuments are free-standing sculpture and relief (stele, rock reliefs, orthostats, obelisks). The material was worked with metal tools and probably hard stone tools. Traces of tools are rarely preserved due to smoothing and polishing of the surface with abrasives. Surfaces could be shaped through the incisio…


(2,559 words)

Author(s): Riederer, Josef (Berlin) | Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin)
[German version] A.1 Iron and Iron Ores Since iron does not naturally occur in usable concentrations, it must be obtained by smelting iron ores. Previously, meteorite iron was occasionally worked to make tools and weapons. Iron obtained by smelting is differentiated with certainty from meteorite iron by its nickel content: meteorite iron usually has more than 5% nickel (values up to 10% are normal) while iron extracted from ores usually has less than 0.5% nickel. Various types of naturally occurring ir…


(3,476 words)

Author(s): Riederer, Josef (Berlin) | Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) | Pingel, Volker (Bochum) | Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
I. General [German version] A. Gold and gold deposits Gold is a soft precious metal that can be shaped well mechanically and so can be worked easily into sheets and wires, but it has a relatively high melting point at 1063°C that makes casting difficult. It is relatively rare in nature where it is present in the form of gold aggregates in solid rock from which it is extracted through mining methods, or it is present in the form of gold particles or grains in sandy deposits of weathered primary rock, from…

Bricks; Brick stamps

(1,288 words)

Author(s): Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) | Höcker, Christoph (Kissing)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient In Egypt and the Near East, the history of the brick and its predecessor, the mud brick, dates back to the 8th/7th millennia BC. The raw material was generally a local mixture from clay/loam and sand/gravel, in Egypt the silt deposits of the Nile. The mixture, made lean through the addition of vegetal (chopped) straw, chaff, mineral (crushed stones or potsherds) or waste material (animal dung), was shaped into bricks in wooden frames. After drying out in the sun, th…


(852 words)

Author(s): Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) | Burford-Cooper, Alison (Ann Arbor)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient and Egypt Pitch (also bitumen; asphalt) is a natural product of fossil origin and varying composition. Its use in the Ancient Orient mostly remained limited to the source regions in Mesopotamia, Ḫūzistān and the Dead Sea. Egypt did not have any noteworthy deposits of pitch, therefore pitch was irrelevant until the Ptolemaic period, and was then imported from Syria and Palestine as an agent for mummification (Mummies). Pitch, which is viscous, was rarely used unadulter…

Lapis lazuli

(419 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) | Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin)
[German version] (Sumerian iagin > Akkadian uqnû > Greek κύανος/ kýanos > Lat. cyanus; Egyptian ḫsbḏ). The blue rock is a complicated silicate related to the artificial ultramarine. It is characterized by its more or less deep blue colour, often with golden specks of iron pyrite. Lapis lazuli (LL) was extracted in what is present-day Afghanistan/province of Badaḫšān and in the Afghan-Pakistani borderland (Quetta), brought from there to the Near East and to Egypt via the Sinai. It was traded raw, separated from…


(687 words)

Author(s): Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg) | Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) | Pingel, Volker (Bochum)
[German version] I. General The fossil resin of the conifers that gets its name in German ( Bernstein) from its combustibility or as a succinite. The magnetic power of attraction of amber was already known to Thales (A 1,24 and A 3 DK); from the Greek name ἤλεκτρον ( ḗlektron) the modern term ‘electricity’ is derived. Mentioned in Aristotle (e.g. Met. 4,10,388b19 ff.) and Theophrastus (H. plant. 9,18,2; Lapid. 3,16; 5,28 and 29 [2]), and as sucinum in Tacitus (Germ. 45). Pliny (Italian thium, German glaesum: HN 37,31-46) characterizes amber as defluens medulla pinei generis arboribus (‘t…


(765 words)

Author(s): Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) | Burford-Cooper, Alison (Ann Arbor)
[English version] I. Alter Orient und Ägypten P. (auch Bitumen; Asphalt) ist ein Naturprodukt fossiler Herkunft und unterschiedlicher Zusammensetzung, dessen Nutzung im Alten Orient weitgehend auf die Quellgebiete in Mesopot., Ḫūzistān und im Toten Meer beschränkt blieb. Äg. verfügte über keine nennenswerten Vorkommen von P.; es spielte dort bis in ptolem. Zeit keine Rolle und wurde dann als Mittel bei der Mumifizierung (Mumie) aus Syrien und Palaestina importiert. Das zähflüssige P. wurde selten natur…


(267 words)

Author(s): Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) | Mlasowsky, Alexander (Hannover)
[English version] I. Vorderer Orient E. als natürliche Legierung von Gold und Silber wurde in Vorderasien und Ägypten zumeist wie vorgefunden verarbeitet. Nach Analysen enthalten scheinbar aus Gold bestehende Objekte zumeist einen hohen Anteil von Silber, der mehr als 40 % betragen kann (z.B. Gefäße aus den Königsgräbern von Ur, ca. 2600 v.Chr.). Später wurde E. als Legierung auch künstlich hergestellt. E. ist härter als Gold und wurde deshalb bevorzugt für Schmuck, Prunkwaffen, Statuetten, zur Plattierung und für Einlagen sowie als Werteinheit (z.B. in Ringform) verwendet. …

Lapis lazuli

(356 words)

Author(s): Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) | Hünemörder, Christian (Hamburg)
[English version] (Sumer. iagin > akkad. uqnû > griech. κύανος > lat. cyanus; äg. ḫsbḏ). Der Lasurstein ist ein kompliziertes Silikat, das mit dem künstlichen Ultramarin verwandt ist. Er zeichnet sich durch mehr oder weniger tiefblaue Farbe, oft mit goldgelben Einsprengseln von Eisenpyrit, aus. L. wurde im heutigen Afghanistan/Prov. Badaḫšān bzw. im afghanisch-pakistanischen Grenzgebiet (Quetta) gewonnen und gelangte von dort nach Vorderasien sowie über den Sinai nach Äg. Verhandelt wurde L. unbearbeitet, get…


(2,593 words)

Author(s): Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) | Giesen, Katharina (Tübingen) | Kohler, Christoph (Bad Krozingen) | Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
I. Alter Orient [English version] A. Metallgewinnung Metalle (= Met.) werden aus Erzen gewonnen (Verhüttung); Edel-Met.: Gold, Silber, Elektron; Grund-Met.: Kupfer, Zinn, Blei, Eisen. Der Anfang der M. dürfte in mineralogisch günstigen Regionen, vornehmlich in der Nähe der (Kupfer-)Erzlagerstätten Anatoliens zu suchen sein. Elemente der Pyrotechnologie sind schon aus akeramisch-neolithischen Siedlungen des frühen 7. Jt.v.Chr. nachweisbar, insbes. Produkte eines aus Kupfererz erschmolzenen Met. Durch Sc…


(2,479 words)

Author(s): Riederer, Josef (Berlin) | Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin)
[English version] A.1 Eisen und Eisenerze Da E. in der Natur nicht in verwertbaren Mengen metallisch vorkommt, muß es durch die Verhüttung von Eisenerzen gewonnen werden. Davor kam es vereinzelt zur Verarbeitung von Meteoreisen als Rohstoff für die Herstellung von Geräten und Waffen. Durch Verhüttung gewonnenes E. kann durch die Bestimmung des Nickelgehaltes sicher von Meteoreisen unterschieden werden: Meteoreisen enthält in der Regel über 5% Nickel (Werte bis zu 10% sind üblich), während das aus Erze…


(1,194 words)

Author(s): Riederer, Josef (Berlin) | Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin)
[German version] I. Definition Tin is a metal, used in Antiquity for casting, for making sheet-metal, for plating other materials, for alloys, primarily with copper to make bronze or with lead to make tin-lead solder. The starting material was cassiterite, the only tin ore that occurs naturally in sufficient quantities for metallurgical processing. Cassiterite, an oxide of tin (SnO2), is dark brown to black in colour, has a high density (6800-7100 kg m-3) and is very hard (6-7), characteristics which must have immediately attracted attention when ores were being so…


(538 words)

Author(s): Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) | Höcker, Christoph (Kissing)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient In Middle Eastern archaeology intarsia is the term for the laying of decorative elements of different materials onto or into a substratum. To achieve better colour contrasts, combinations of different materials, especially coloured stones, shells, bones, ivory, metals, ceramics, glass and silicate were used; the most common substrata were stone, metal, wood and clay/ceramics. The binder was usually bitumen. The oldest examples of intarsia were found in the preceramic Neolithic of Palestine ( c. 8000 BC; e.g. gypsum-coated human skulls wi…


(279 words)

Author(s): Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) | Mlasowsky, Alexander (Hannover)
[German version] I. Middle East Elektron as a natural alloy of gold and silver that was mostly worked as found in the Middle East and Egypt. According to analysis, objects seemingly consisting of gold usually contain a large amount of silver, which may constitute more than 40% (e.g., vessels from the royal graves of Ur, c. 2600 BC). Later, elektron was also artificially produced as an alloy. Elektron is harder than gold and, therefore, was preferred for jewellery, display weapons, statues, plating, inlays and units of value (e.g., as rings).  Gold;  Amber Wartke, Ralf-B. (Berlin) Bibliogr…
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