Metallurgical Slags as Traces of a 15th century Copper Smelter

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Abstract

The research focuses on assessing the metal content, mainly copper, lead, iron and also silver in metallurgical slag samples from the area where historical metallurgical industry functioned. In the smelter located in Mogiła, near Krakow (southern Poland), whose operation is confirmed in sources from 1469, copper was probably refined as well as silver was separated from copper. Based on the change of chemical and soil phase content and also taking cartographic and historical data into account, considering the restrictions resulting from the modern land use the area was determined whose geochemical mapping can point to the location of the 15th century Jan Thurzo’s smelter in Mogiła near Krakow. Moreover, using the same approach with the samples of this kind here as with hazardous waste, an attempt has been made to assess their impact on the environment. Thereby, taking the geoenvironmental conditions into account, potential impact of the industrial activity has been assessed, which probably left large scale changes in the substratum, manifested in the structure, chemical content and soil phase changes. Discovering areas which are contaminated above the standard value can help to identify historical human activities, and finding the context in artefacts allows to treat geochemical anomalies as a geochronological marker. For this purpose the best are bed sediments, at present buried in the ground, of historical ditches draining the area of the supposed smelter. Correlating their qualities with analogical research of archeologically identified slags and other waste material allows for reconstructing the anthropopressure stages and the evaluation of their effects. The operation of Jan Thurzo’s smelter is significant for the history of mining and metallurgy of Poland and Central and Eastern Europe.

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Archives of Foundry Engineering

The Journal of Polish Academy of Sciences

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