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PLoS One. 2015 Dec 2;10(12):e0142948. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0142948. eCollection 2015.

The Earliest Lead Object in the Levant.

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The Fredy & Nadine Herrmann Institute of Earth Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Edmond J. Safra Campus, Givat Ram, 91904, Jerusalem, Israel.
Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University, Mount Scopus, 91905, Jerusalem, Israel.
The Laboratory of Archaeobotany and Ancient Environments, The Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology, Tel Aviv University, 6997801, Tel Aviv, Israel.
The Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, Bar-Ilan University, 5290002, Ramat-Gan, Israel.
Israel Cave Research Center, Department of Geography, The Hebrew University, 91905, Jerusalem, Israel.
McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3ER, United Kingdom.


In the deepest section of a large complex cave in the northern Negev desert, Israel, a bi-conical 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.

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