Although metal artefacts already appear in Late Neolithic contexts in the Aegean, their visibility in the archaeological record increases significantly during the Early Bronze Age (EBA). In addition, several sites with substantial quantities of metallurgical remains dating to this period have been identified in the southern Aegean, suggesting relatively large-scale local production of copper, lead, and silver.

Until recently the majority of archaeometallurgical work regarding the prehistoric Aegean centred almost exclusively on metal provenance and circulation. This project seeks a more holistic approach to the study of the early phases of metal production and use and the implications of the widespread introduction of this material and the relevant technologies in the corresponding communities. Emphasis is placed on the study of the technology and spatial distribution of the different stages in the production sequence, the identification of raw material sources and evidence for exploitation, technological similarities and differences within the region, and the nature and methods of production of early alloys. Field investigations and macroscopic examination of finds are combined with appropriate chemical (ICP-OES, XRF etc) and microstructural (optical and electron microscopy) analyses of selected samples. A number of smaller-scale site-specific case studies are currently incorporated under this broad research theme:

o Metal production, working, and consumption at Dhaskalio Kavos on Keros (Cyclades)
Director of Keros excavations: Prof. C. Renfrew (Univ. of Cambridge)
Archaeometallurgy specialist: Dr M. Georgakopoulou (Fitch Laboratory, BSA)
Materials under study: Metallurgical remains (slags, ceramics, litharge) and metal artefacts (mainly copper and lead)

o EBA copper, lead, and silver production on Siphnos 
Project director: Dr Z. Papadopoulou (Greek Ministry of Culture)
Collaborators: Dr M. Georgakopoulou (Fitch Laboratory, BSA), Dr Y. Bassiakos (Laboratory of Archaeometry, NCSR Demokritos), Prof. G. A. Wagner (Prof. em. University of Heidelberg), Ms M. Chrysovergi (Greek Ministry of Culture)
Funding: INSTAP, State Scholarships Foundation
Materials under study: Lead and copper slags, litharge

o EBA Silver production in SE Attica 
Project director: Ms O. Kakavoyianni (Greek Ministry of Culture)
Collaborators: Dr M. Georgakopoulou (Fitch Laboratory, BSA), Dr Y. Bassiakos (NCSR Demokritos), Ms K. Douni (Greek Ministry of Culture)
Funding: INSTAP
Materials under study: Primarily litharge

o Metalworking and consumption at Palamari, Skyros 
Directors of Palamari excavations: Dr L. Parlama and Dr M. Theochari (Greek Ministry of Culture)
Archaeometalurgy specialists: Dr Y. Bassiakos, Dr M. Georgakopoulou
Materials under study: Metal artefacts (primarily copper) and metallurgical remains

These case studies allow the investigation of different metal-related activities. Primary production of copper is attested, for example, on the Cycladic islands of Siphnos and Keros, while lead/ silver production on Siphnos and south-eastern Attica. Secondary metalworking activities and metal consumption are noted on the settlements of Dhaskalio Kavos (Keros) and Palamari (Skyros). In addition the specific case studies represent different contexts as, for example, Siphnos and south-eastern Attica are rich in the corresponding ore sources, contrary to Keros. Furthermore, on Siphnos activities on a specialized mining/smelting site (Ayios Sostis) are contrasted with those within a settlement (Akrotiraki). This variability allows for a more in-depth and comprehensive insight into the organization and role of metallurgy within the EBA southern Aegean.

The results of this work will form part of a monograph currently under preparation on EBA Aegean metallurgy funded by a postdoctoral scholarship from the Institute of Aegean Prehistory.