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 AD  Vol.5 No.1 , January 2017
Amalgamation and Small-Scale Gold Mining at Ancient Sardis, Turkey
Abstract: In the ancient world gold was mined mainly from alluvial occurrences using gravity methods combined with the use of mercury (amalgamation), a method that is still used today in small-scale alluvial gold mines worldwide. Cyanide, which was first used in the 1880s, is used in large-scale hardrock mines to recover gold, silver, copper, and other metals from porphyry and disseminated ore deposits. Therefore, amalgamation must be considered, or specifically in the case of Sardis, reconsidered as the technology for ancient alluvial gold mining. Evidence that includes: the availability of cinnabar, the ore of mercury; an ancient mercury retort; ancient use of cinnabar as a pigment and mercury for gilding and amalgamation; the very fine-grained alluvial gold at Sardis; and the composition of the end-product gold, a Byzantine coin. These all indicate that amalgamation must be considered as the mining technology that supplied gold to Sardis’ ancient refineries and craftsmen.
Cite this paper: Brooks, W. , Öztürk, H. and Cansu, Z. (2017) Amalgamation and Small-Scale Gold Mining at Ancient Sardis, Turkey. Archaeological Discovery, 5, 42-59. doi: 10.4236/ad.2017.51003.
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