Copper in Ancient Egypt

Before, during and after the Pyramid Age (c. 4000 – 1600 BC)


The first comprehensive and up-to-date overview of what we know about the use of copper by the ancient Egyptians and Nubians, from the Predynastic through the Early Dynastic until the end of the Second Intermediate Period (c. 4000–1600 BC). The monograph presents a story, based on the analysis of available evidence, a synchronic and diachronic reconstruction of the development and changes of the chaîne opératoire of copper and copper alloy artefacts. The book argues that Egypt was not isolated from the rest of the ancient world and that popular notions of its “primitive” technology are not based on facts.

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Martin Odler, Ph.D. (2020), Czech Institute of Egyptology, Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague, studies the ancient Egyptian crafts, especially copper metallurgy. He published two monographs, on the Old Kingdom copper tools and on the Leipzig collection of Egyptian metalwork.
List of Figures
List of Tables

1 Introduction: The Subject, Its Chronological and Chorological Scope
 1 Copper as a Chemical Element and Raw Material
 2 Copper and (Tin) Bronze: Cases of Terminological Imprecision
 3 Chronology, Geography, and Societies
 4 Egyptian Copper Reflected outside of the Field
 5 Position within Archaeological Theory

2 Chaîne Opératoire and Sources’ Survey
 1 Categories of Ancient Egyptian and Our Thinking
 2 Data and Statistical Populations in Egyptian Archaeology
 3 Categories of Sources

3 Words for Material and People—Copper and Metalworkers
 1 Identified Metals
 2 Main Words and Their Context

4 Expeditions: Procurement, Initial Processing and Transport of Ore
 1 Predynastic and Early Dynastic Period
 2 Old Kingdom
 3 Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period
 4 Lead Isotopes of the Ores and Artefacts

5 Copper Storage, Revenues, and Transactions
 1 Administration of Resources in the Early Dynastic Period
 2 Administration of Resources in the Old Kingdom
 3 Administration of Resources in the Middle Kingdom
 4 Changes in the Second Intermediate Period and New Kingdom
 5 Whose Copper? Royal, Non-royal and Other Contexts
 6 Looting of Copper

6 Metalworkers and Their Institutions
 1 Early Dynastic Period
 2 Old Kingdom
 3 First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom
 4 Second Intermediate Period

7 Workshops
 1 Old Kingdom Workshop Scenes
 2 First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom Workshop Scenes
 3 Archaeology of Workshops
 4 Furnaces and Crucibles
 5 Ingots
 6 Moulds
 7 Length Measures and Regularization
 8 Main Alloys
 9 Techniques of Metalworking
 10 Papyri Reisner and Lahun Papyri
 11 Question of Independent Nubian Metalwork
 12 Performative Aspects of the Craft

8 Uses of Artisan, Textile and Leather Tool Kit
 1 Artisan Tool Kit
 2 Textile and Leather Processing Tool Kit

9 Tools of Conspicuous Display: Weaponry, Personal Care and Adornment
 1 Weaponry
 2 Hunting and Food Processing Tool Kit
 3 Cosmetic Tool Kit
 4 Personal Adornment, Pigments and Raw Materials

10 Ritual Tools (Vessels, Statuary, Regalia) and Hardware
 1 Vessels
 2 Furniture, Thrones and Hardware
 3 Statuary, Regalia and Boats
 4 Musical Instruments
 5 Objects of Unknown Use

11 Ancient Egyptian Copper in Eastern Mediterranean Context
 1 Copper and Metalworkers
 2 Copper Ore Procurement
 3 Raw and Semi-Processed Copper, Transactions with Copper
 4 Copper Artefacts

12 Conclusion

Professionals in Egyptology, archaeometallurgy and related disciplines, including the institutes and libraries of relevant specializations; and interested non-professionals.
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