Metallurgical characterisation of 1st and 2nd century AD Roman copper-alloy military equipment from north-western Europe

Fernandez-Reyes, Pablo
Metallurgical characterisation of 1st and 2nd century AD Roman copper-alloy military equipment from north-western Europe. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Roman military equipment has traditionally been studied from a typological perspective based on a linear concept of change. Whilst Roman alloys have been analysed scientifically and general studies on them have been published, analysis of military equipment has been scarce and mostly secluded as part of excavation reports of individual sites. Scientific analysis though, can provide independent ways of studying military equipment. It can answer questions about production and distribution of the raw materials and finished objects and is capable of informing on reasons for technological choices (the intention of obtaining determinate colours, for example), and identification of military units. A total of 216 copper-alloy military objects from the British sites of South Cadbury Castle, Ham Hill, Usk, Carlisle, Chester and Kingsholm, and the German site of Kalkriese were selected for obtaining metallurgical characterisation: chemical analysis at major, minor and trace element level and microstructural analysis to obtain fabrication history and identifying any plating. The analytical techniques employed were atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS), scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDS), optical microscopy and multivariate statistics methods such as principal component analysis (PCA), discriminant analysis (DA) and multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). The aim of the project was to characterise the chemical and physical make-up of Roman military copper-alloy metalwork from the 1st century AD, with especial interest in the immediate post-conquest period. The results of the analysis show a difference between the Roman military equipment from British sites and the equipment from Kalkriese, based on trace element patterns. This difference can be explained by a large input of material into Britain that had been made in the years before AD43 in preparation for the conquest. Contrary to recent scholarship, and based on compositional and microstructural evidence, some lorica segmentata brass fittings seem to have been centrally produced. Primary brass and specific gunmetal compositions seem to be associated with the military and probably chosen primarily for their appearance and resemblance to gold, rather than for their mechanical properties. The possibility of mechanised production of brass is explored based on the brass ingot from Sheepen.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Date: 2014-09 (completed)
Subjects: ?? CC ??
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Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2015 09:25
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 04:42
DOI: 10.17638/02003529