Lead in the Levant during the Late Bronze and early Iron Ages

Omri Yagel, Erez Ben-Yosef

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Probably due to its relative scarcity in the archaeological record of the Late Bronze and early Iron Ages, lead is seldom the focus of archaeometallurgical research on these periods. In the current study we turn to legacy lead isotope data in order to provenance lead artifacts from Eastern Mediterranean contexts, dated to the second half of the 2nd millennium BCE. These data shed new light on the circulation of lead in the Eastern Mediterranean prior, during and after the collapse of the Bronze Age global trade systems. We provide further support to the notion that lead from Sardinia was circulating in Eastern Mediterranean markets and reached the Levant already during the Late Bronze Age. We found that this trade was more common in the South-eastern Mediterranean (in comparison to the North-eastern Mediterranean), probably as the result of geopolitical circumstances related to the distinct spheres of influence of Egypt and Hatti at that time. Moreover, it seems that lead from Sardinia was continuously shipped towards the east also in the face of the changing geo-economical dynamics during the transition between the Bronze and Iron Ages. The data were obtained mostly through the OXALID database. The current paper also aims at emphasizing the importance of shared open access databases for lead isotopes in archaeometallurgical research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103649
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Ancient lead
  • Ancient metal trade
  • Archaeometallurgy
  • Cyprus
  • Iron Age
  • Late Bronze Age
  • Lead isotope
  • Phoenicians
  • Sardinia
  • Ugarit
  • Uluburun

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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