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Non-metallurgical iron ore trade in the Roman Mediterranean: an initial synthesis of provenance and use in the case of imperial Colonia Narbo Martius (Narbonne, Aude, France)

Abstract : Since prehistoric times, iron ore has been traded to be used for various purposes as in medicines, pigments, and cosmetics. This non-metallurgical iron ore trade, involving the transportation of ore from the mined deposits via trade hubs to consumption areas, must be viewed as part of a long-distance trading network, such as that for the trading of iron bars. This paper proposes an initial synthesis of (i) the circulation of iron ore fragments in the western Mediterranean and (ii) their multiple non-metallurgical uses in antiquity, as recorded in Naturalis Historia by Pliny the Elder. The basis of our discussion is a heterogeneous, concatenated chemical database, set up to assess the sourcing of iron ore fragments discovered in the Roman harbor of Colonia Narbo Martius (Narbonne, Aude, France). Lastly, we advance that in antiquity, iron ore was traded from Elba and possibly from southern Tuscany to Gaul, via the harbor of Colonia Narbo Martius, probably for use in medicine and as a coloring base. However, further development of this topic is required, since this trade is part of a larger, more complex network of distribution.
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https://hal-cea.archives-ouvertes.fr/cea-02880410
Contributor : Serge Palacin <>
Submitted on : Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 7:37:03 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, October 15, 2020 - 4:14:04 PM

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Gaspard Pagès, Stéphanie Leroy, Corinne Sanchez. Non-metallurgical iron ore trade in the Roman Mediterranean: an initial synthesis of provenance and use in the case of imperial Colonia Narbo Martius (Narbonne, Aude, France). Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, Springer, 2020, 12 (7), ⟨10.1007/s12520-020-01083-5⟩. ⟨cea-02880410⟩

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