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AccueilNuméros33Studies of Objects: manufacturin...New finds from an old treasure: t...

In this paper, we present the results of an archaeometric study by SEM-EDS, carried out on six gold objects originating from the historical site where, 50 years ago, an important gold treasure, belonging to the Orientalizing-Tartesian period, was found. The new finds came to light recently, during rescue excavations that unearthed a monumental complex described as a Phoenician sanctuary.

1 On 30 September 1958, a treasure of gold objects was found by workmen refurbishing a public building at the top of a hill overlooking the fertile Guadalquivir river valley. The Carambolo gold hoard consists of two sets of objects, representing a total of 21 ornaments, including 16 rectangular plaques, two pendants, a pair of bracelets, and a pendant necklace. They have recently been dated to a period around the 8th century BC, except for the necklace, which is probably Cypriot in origin and of a later date, around the 6th century BC, the period when the treasure was concealed.

4 Rescue excavations carried out at this site from 2002 to 2004, due again to building works in the expanding city of Seville, unearthed a monumental sanctuary, dated to a period between the 8th and the 6th centuries BC. The complete stratigraphic sequence of the site extends from the final Bronze Age to the end of the Orientalizing period in the 6th century BC, when the site was abandoned (Fernández and Rodriguez 2005; 2007).The discovery of new gold objects during the most recent excavation has reopened the old debate on native versus Phoenician workshops.

5 These objects were sent to the Laboratorio de Microscopía Eletrónica CENIM, CSIC, in Madrid, for topographic examination using a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), and were initially analysed by Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) in order to determine the elemental composition of the alloys, and also the type of solder used, if any.

8 The four discoidal appliqués are real miniatures made by stamping small circular pieces of sheet, and had a wire loop soldered onto the back so that they could be sewn onto cloth. The wire loop was made by the same system of twisting as the one used for the chain. They are so small that the soldering process which had to avoid fusing the tiny objects was difficult. Traces of these problems can be seen in the dendritic structures throughout the surface.

10 The objects that provide most information for interpreting this find are the discoidal appliqués. We are aware of a small but significant number of these objects, which always appear in relatively numerous sets. All the finds are distributed in the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula, and their chronological contexts point to the final Bronze Age / Early Iron Age transition period, which encompasses the so-called Orientalizing period.

13 A third set consists of 39 items from Fortios (Portalegre, Portugal), again lacking an archaeological context, and is also held in the Lisbon Museum (Pingel, 1992: 298, nº 287). The objects have a diameter of about 2 cm, wire loops on the back, and are decorated with concentric circles. This is the largest set of such artefacts, and it also contains the largest examples known to date.

14 Other comparable objects have been found, rather different morphologically from those under discussion here, but which could have been used in a similar manner to decorate garments, although they do not have the loop on the back, the defining feature of the sets described earlier. These are the appliqués from Sâo Martinho (Alcácer do Sal, Setúbal, Portugal) and El Castañuelo (Huelva, Spain), which have holes on the outer edge, probably for sewing or fixing. The association of the find of Sâo Martinho (Armbruster and Parreira, 1993: ) with spirals, and the context of the items from El Castañuelo – a cist necropolis (Schubart, 1975: 95-96, lám. 54; Perea, 1991: 107) – seem to indicate an earlier date than that of the items with a loop on the back instead of holes (Perea, 2005). They could be dating to the Final Bronze Age of the southwest.

16 The great treasure of El Carambolo and this new find must be compared. The first one was hidden intentionally so that the jewels could be recovered. The objects were in a perfect state of preservation and showed few signs of wear. The new find, however, consists of fragmentary, incomplete objects that display traces of having been used for a long time, an aspect which seems to reflect an unintentional loss.

The valuable objects in this hoard were discovered in 2007. They probably belonged to a powerful Viking who accumulated them through raiding and trading connections across Europe and beyond. The hoard helps us understand more about the Vikings’ international connections and about their struggle with the Anglo-Saxons for control of England.

Objects are claimed for their archaeological or historical importance rather than financial value, so objects do not have to be precious metal to be considered Treasure Trove. In the recent past the Treasure Trove system has claimed objects ranging from prehistoric stone tools to Jacobite political medals. If you are unsure whether a find may be Treasure Trove you can contact the Treasure Trove Unit for advice.

The simplest way to make contact is to email an image to the Treasure Trove Unit, whose contact details can be found on this website. Even the most unpromising object can be important, and the staff at the Treasure Trove Unit are happy to advise you whether your find is significant or not.

If an object or group of objects are discovered, finders should try to:

The find should then be reported to the Treasure Trove Unit as quickly as possible. Reporting forms may be downloaded online, or posted on request. Any images of the object and its find-spot are helpful for initial identification and may be included along with your form or emailed to the Unit using the address provided. Objects can also be deposited with your local museum or Local Authority Archaeologist who can take the object to Edinburgh.

Larger finds, or object in situ, may be sensitive to disturbance as not only are they likely to be fragile, their situation or context may contain valuable archaeological information that could easily be lost. In this event leave the object or group of objects in the ground, using protective covering such as plastic sheeting if necessary. Then contact either your Local Authority Archaeologist or the Treasure Trove Unit immediately and they will provide you with advice on how to proceed.

Do not clean finds or attempt to apply any substances such as wax or lacquer as this will damage the artefact resulting in a loss of valuable information. However if an object is wet and made of wood or textile it is a good idea to keep it damp by keeping it with some of the soil in which it was found and keeping it in a plastic bag.

The finder of an object deemed to be Treasure Trove is eligible for a reward to recognise their role in securing the object for the national heritage. There are common misperceptions about how an ex gratia payment is decided and this section is intended to provide guidance and information for finders.

The ex gratia payment is based on the current market value of the object and the Treasure Trove Unit use information from recent sales and auctions to ensure the information is up to date. Where appropriate the Treasure Trove Unit will also commission independent valuations. The finder of the object also has the opportunity to submit evidence as to the value of their find.

The reward is based on the sum it would take to purchase an equivalent object on the antiquities market rather than the sum a dealer might pay for an object; thus it will be considerably higher than the offer a dealer might make. The ex gratia payment can be increased to reflect good conduct on the part of the finder, and can be reduced if the object has been damaged.

(a) any object at least 300 years old when found which—

(b) any object at least 200 years old when found which belongs to a class designated under section 2(1);

(c) any object which would have been treasure trove if found before the commencement of section 4;

(d) any object which, when found, is part of the same find as—

(i) an object within paragraph (a), (b) or (c) found at the same time or earlier; or

(ii) an object found earlier which would be within paragraph (a) or (b) if it had been found at the same time.

(2) Treasure does not include objects which are—

(a) unworked natural objects, or

(1) The Secretary of State may by order, for the purposes of section 1(1)(b), designate any class of object which he considers to be of outstanding historical, archaeological or cultural importance.

(2) The Secretary of State may by order, for the purposes of section 1(2), designate any class of object which (apart from the order) would be treasure.

(4) When an object is found, it is part of the same find as another object if—

(b) the other object was found earlier in the same place where they had been left together,

(c) the other object was found earlier in a different place, but they had been left together and had become separated before being found.

(5) If the circumstances in which objects are found can reasonably be taken to indicate that they were together at some time before being found, the objects are to be presumed to have been left together, unless shown not to have been.

(6) An object which can reasonably be taken to be at least a particular age is to be presumed to be at least that age, unless shown not to be.

(7) An object is not treasure if it is wreck within the meaning of Part IX of the [1995 c. 21.] Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

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