Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby Ajai » 11:55 am

Boreades wrote:We are naturally focusing on the Western Europe aspects of megalithics. But there are some great megalithic connections to ancient India as well, which was rich in copper and tin. From where Persia got the decimal number system and much mathematics before we copied it and called it an Arabic invention. So I could be completely wrong about copper coming from America, and it came from India. But either way, the megalithics were still trading over thousands of miles further than Trad. Archeos would have us believe.

Copper is accessible then to an experienced prospector who's prepared to travel. Tin is harder to find -- Chaldea, Spain and then Cornwall were the sources we know about. So for centuries if not longer trade in the most valuable commodities, copper and tin, was relatively easy to control.
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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby hvered » 9:05 am

Ajai wrote:Copper is accessible then to an experienced prospector who's prepared to travel. Tin is harder to find -- Chaldea, Spain and then Cornwall were the sources we know about. So for centuries if not longer trade in the most valuable commodities, copper and tin, was relatively easy to control.

Maybe the evidence of copper-smelting is harder to find than mines because the transport of ores was easier by sea than overland. Mining operations near the coast such as the Great Orme and Anglesey suggest this. Plenty of tin mining in Cornwall but the tin ore was shipped from the coast or offshore islands such as Michael's Mount and Burgh Island. Presumably you are suggesting the distribution may have been 'controlled' rather than mining.
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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby Royston » 3:42 pm

Boreades wrote:But there are some great megalithic connections to ancient India as well, which was rich in copper and tin.

It'd be interesting to know how long the Indian supply lasted; presumably it would have depended on how widespread the demand was at the time and how much tin was there in the first place.

If an earlier source of tin came from India, it's safe to assume that it found its way to every corner of the Ancient World, through a combination of sea, river and overland routes. Tin sources unlike copper ore are few and far between.
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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby Penny » 6:10 pm

But there are some great megalithic connections to ancient India as well, which was rich in copper and tin. From where Persia got the decimal number system and much mathematics before we copied it and called it an Arabic invention.

Seems like tin goes hand in hand with civilisation. Any connection between 'Ur' and ore?

There is little argument that Britain was developed in the Neolithic, when agriculture was officially introduced, an era when the country had enough resources and accessible trade routes to dissociate itself from a pan-European (and further!) network if it so wished. Tin is surely the catalyst for the country’s developmental changes; when iron displaced bronze as the chief commodity Britain became a relative backwater controlled by disunited or even apparently warring tribes.
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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby hvered » 6:13 pm

Seems like tin goes hand in hand with civilisation. Any connection between 'Ur' and ore?
I don't think so. The areas most associated with Megalithics e.g. Cornwall, the Orkney, are noticeably 'uncivilised' if not downright poverty-stricken.
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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby Penny » 7:16 pm

At the risk of stating the bleedin' obvious, civilisation = citification. Cities are supposed to have originated with the Romans.
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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby hvered » 7:21 pm

There's no knowing what the age of cities is though. Short of digging up prime real estate which won't happen dating a city centre has to be speculative.

Civilisation/citification is a by-product of agriculture not tin. Ancient cities like Göbekli Tepe are in the vicinity of fields. Forget 'temples', think granaries.
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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby Royston » 9:52 pm

The oldest town in south-east Europe is Solnitsata according to archaeologists http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... tsata.html

The town's wealth (the oldest hoard of gold yet discovered) was based on rock salt distilled from springs and made into bricks for trading. There is also evidence of copper mining in south-central Bulgaria so hard to say which came first. Despite the excitement over this salt city, it may be that salt production was a side-effect, albeit a hugely lucrative one, of an earlier metalworking industry.
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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby Ajai » 8:57 pm

hvered wrote:Maybe the evidence of copper-smelting is harder to find than mines because the transport of ores was easier by sea than overland. Mining operations near the coast such as the Great Orme and Anglesey suggest this. Plenty of tin mining in Cornwall but the tin ore was shipped from the coast or offshore islands such as Michael's Mount and Burgh Island.

The physical evidence of prehistoric tin mining is thin on the ground, most of what we 'know' comes from written sources which are not terribly informative; still, even orthodox historians agree that tin was the real deal and 'must' have been responsible for the presence of the Phoenicians.

Tinners need flowing water in order to carry out 'streaming' (cleaning the ore and washing away the debris). The Tamar is said to mean 'dark water' and Tam may be etymologically connected to tin [cf. the Thames or Tamesis]. There are probably many 'Tin' rivers and streams, I wonder if anyone has looked into this?

P.S. Ictis mentioned by Diodorus Siculus is often assumed to refer to Michael's Mount; according to Wiki Ictis can (or should) be spelt 'Iktin'.
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Re: Megalithic manufacturing in Britain

Postby Boreades » 9:48 pm

Ajai wrote:
hvered wrote:Maybe the evidence of copper-smelting is harder to find than mines because the transport of ores was easier by sea than overland. Mining operations near the coast such as the Great Orme and Anglesey suggest this. Plenty of tin mining in Cornwall but the tin ore was shipped from the coast or offshore islands such as Michael's Mount and Burgh Island.

The physical evidence of prehistoric tin mining is thin on the ground, most of what we 'know' comes from written sources which are not terribly informative; still, even orthodox historians agree that tin was the real deal and 'must' have been responsible for the presence of the Phoenicians.

Tinners need flowing water in order to carry out 'streaming' (cleaning the ore and washing away the debris). The Tamar is said to mean 'dark water' and Tam may be etymologically connected to tin [cf. the Thames or Tamesis]. There are probably many 'Tin' rivers and streams, I wonder if anyone has looked into this?

P.S. Ictis mentioned by Diodorus Siculus is often assumed to refer to Michael's Mount; according to Wiki Ictis can (or should) be spelt 'Iktin'.


Yes, any river that is being used for streaming will be flushing huge amounts of sediment downstream. There's clear historical evidence for that in many rivers in Devon and Cornwall that have been heavily silted up. As a result, the ports and docks had to move downstream closer to the sea.

Even so, shipping the tin ore would be a "brute force" solution for our megalithic traders because (despite the value of the end product) the ore itself is a high volume, low value material. As I've said before, the common sense megalithic manufacturer or trade would move the high-volume low-value material the minimum distance to where it could be converted into low-volume high-value material. That distance depends on the nearest power sources. Wood, coal, or perhaps the solar furnaces of henges with mirrors that concentrated energy enough to melt metals?

I can only see it making economic sense to our Veneti shipping magnates (to ship raw ores) if there were huge amounts of wood/charcoal in Gaul/Brittany. Or more solar henges?
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