The research project ‘Chemical and metallurgical aspects of arsenical bronze: the case of arsenic-loss in prehistoric metal production‘ is hosted by the Institut de Recherche sur les Archéomatériaux – Centre de recherche en physique appliquée à l’archéologie (IRAMAT-CRP2 – UMR 5060 CNRS) at the Université Bordeaux Montaigne, in cooperation with the Laboratorio di Metallurgia e Materiali (LMM-DCCI) at the Universitá degli Studi di Genova. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, grant agreement no. 656244 (2015 to 2017).
The main goal of this project is to investigate out-of-equilibrium Cu-As alloys, i.e. 0-10 wt.% arsenic, as used in the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age. The research protocol consists of several steps: equilibrium and out-of-equilibrium phase diagrams in the above mentioned range, evaluation of mechanical properties of Cu-As alloys in the most common metallurgical states (i.e. as-cast, annealed, cold-hardened, recrystallized), and estimation of the loss of arsenic during metallurgical transformations (i.e. melting / casting, homogenisation annealing, recrystallisation annealing) according to the number of iterations, the treatment temperature and the dwell time. The fulfillment of these objectives is of particular importance for archaeometallurgy, a branch of material science applied to archaeology, which also deals with the development and usage of arsenical bronze – the first alloy made by humans. New knowledge in the production, thermomechanical treatments and consequent properties of the misknown arsenical bronzes will be achieved.
- Investigate and contribute to the construction of out-of-equilibrium phase diagrams for arsenic bronzes up to 10 wt.% arsenic;
- Evaluate mechanical properties and characteristics of arsenical bronze such as hardness, ductility, castability or tensile strength;
- Quantify and evaluate the loss of arsenic during prehistoric manufacturing processes through re-melting, casting and annealing activities