Abstract and Keywords
In the formative years of metallurgy, copper and its ores seem to have been prized for their rare and precious colours. Later, as the brilliance of metals was observed and the extent of their properties was realized, they became mobilized in social differentiation. Their adoption altered economies, changed social relations and triggered craft specialization. Traditional single-stranded accounts of increasing social stratification are recognized as outmoded and simplistic, and the picture presented here captures the subtleties and nuances of a more complex phase of development. Beginning in the Near East and likely following a similar, although later, pathway in Europe, metal production and use varied geographically as well as temporally, in summoning a new epoch which it played a vital role in sustaining and mobilizing.
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