A 2900-year-old Archaeological Discovery in Alentejo Could Rewrite History
A recent discovery at the archaeological site of Rocha do Vigio a village in the Alentejo region of Portugal that is known for its natural beauty and cultural heritage, indicates that steel tools from Europe were already being used much earlier than previously thought.
A new study published in the Journal of Archeologic Science challenges the historical belief that steel tools only became widespread in Europe during the Roman Empire.
The research found that steel tools were already being used in Europe around 2900 years ago, during the Late Bronze Age. And the analyzed tools were not found in any country, except Portugal.
Raphael Araque Gonzalez Study
The researchers did geochemical analyzes of ancient stelae from the Iberian Peninsula, standing stones typically carved with images or words, and found that these were made in siliceous sandstone.
“Like quartzite, this is an extremely hard rock that cannot be worked with bronze or stone tools, only tempered steel”, explains the study’s first author, Raphael Araque Gonzalez.
To confirm whether these monuments were truly carved with steel tools, the researchers analyzed an iron chisel found in Rocha do Vigio, on the right bank of the Guadiana, in Alentejo, which also dates back to the Late Bronze Age.
Scientists discovered that the chisel was made of heterogeneous steel rich in carbon, which was needed to work with the hard silicated quartz sandstone. Siliceous sandstone is sandstone with grains mainly of quartz or siliceous cement. The term silicate is generally used for magmatic rocks rich in silica, not sedimentary rocks.
Iron Age or Stone Age
The researchers tested how other tools of the time could carve the same stone and only the tempered steel chisel was able to make inscriptions, writes ZME Science.
“The Rocha do Vigio chisel and the context where it was found show that iron metallurgy, including the production and tempering of steel, were probably native developments of small decentralized communities in the Iberian Peninsula, and not due to the influence of colonization processes. later,” says Araque Gonzalez.
“Late Bronze Age peoples in the Iberian Peninsula were capable of tempering steel. Otherwise, they would not have been able to work on the pillars, ”he added.
“This also has consequences for the archaeological assessment of iron metallurgy and quartzite sculptures in other regions of the world”, concludes the researcher.
The Alentejo Studies Conclusion
The study has important implications for the archaeological evaluation of iron and quartzite metallurgy sculptures in other regions of the world. Until now, it was assumed that it was not possible to produce steel of adequate quality in the Early Iron Age and certainly not in the Late Bronze Age.
The Alentejo region is 30-40 minutes north of the coast of the Algarve so within travelling distance. Here you will find the property prices are much cheaper than its coastal neighbour and you get a lot more for your money. If you are looking for property for sale in this most historic part of Portugal check out our Alentejo property for sale.
Ref: Science Direct