The Earliest Lead Object in the Levant

Naama Yahalom-Mack, Dafna Langgut, Omri Dvir, Ofir Tirosh, Adi Eliyahu-Behar, Yigal Erel, Boaz Langford, Amos Frumkin, Mika Ullman, Uri Davidovich

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22 Scopus citations


In the deepest section of a large complex cave in the northern Negev desert, Israel, a biconical lead object was found logged onto a wooden shaft. Associated material remains and radiocarbon dating of the shaft place the object within the Late Chalcolithic period, at the late 5th millennium BCE. Based on chemical and lead isotope analysis, we show that this unique object was made of almost pure metallic lead, likely smelted from lead ores originating in the Taurus range in Anatolia. Either the finished object, or the raw material, was brought to the southern Levant, adding another major component to the already-rich Late Chalcolithic metallurgical corpus known to-date. The paper also discusses possible uses of the object, suggesting that it may have been used as a spindle whorl, at least towards its deposition.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0142948
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


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