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Photographs of Cu-As-Sn binary and ternary metal pellets as supporting material for the article: "Experimental design of the Cu-As-Sn ternary colour diagram"

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Radivojevic, Miljana  ORCID logo
Pendic, J 
Srejic, A 
Korac, M 
Kamberovic, Z 


The dataset supports the article: Radivojević, M., Pendić, J., Srejić, A., Korać, M., Davey, C., Benzonelli, A., Martinón-Torres, M., Jovanović, N., and Kamberović, Ž. (2017). Experimental design of the Cu-As-Sn ternary colour diagram. Journal of Archaeological Science, Abstract: The aesthetic appearance of metals has long been recognised in archaeometric studies as an important factor driving inventions and innovations in the evolution of metal production. Nevertheless, while the studies of ancient gold metallurgy are well supported by the modern research in colour characteristics of gold alloys, the colour properties of major prehistoric copper alloys, like arsenical copper and tin bronzes, remain either largely understudied or not easily accessible to the western scholarship. A few published studies have already indicated that alloying and heat treatment change the colours of copper alloys, although they are mainly based on the examples of prehistoric tin bronze objects and experimental casts. Here we present the procedure for building the Cu-As-Sn ternary colour diagram, starting with experimental casting of 64 binary and ternary alloys in this system. We used two types of information to produce two different ternary colour diagrams: one, based on photographs of the samples, and the other, established on the colorimetric measurements. Furthermore, we developed the procedure for creating a graphic representation of colours in the Cu-As-Sn ternary diagram using QGIS. As an initial case study, we plotted the composition of the world’s earliest tin bronze artefacts; the graphic representation further supports claims about the importance of golden hue for their invention and demand, c. 6,500 years ago. We argue that the presented colour diagrams will find wide use in future investigations of aesthetics of prehistoric copper alloys.


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colour, copper alloys, Cu-As-Sn, ternary diagram, Voronoi, colorimetry, archaeometallurgy, tin bronze, Balkans


AH/J001406/1 D.M.McDonald Award