Journey to the Copper Age” opened to the public at the San Diego Museum of Man to rave reviews and it is guest-curated by UCSD archaeologist Tom Levy. The show features many of the relics uncovered by Levy on a series of digs over the past two decades in Israel and Jordan, as well as his ethno-archaeological research in India.
The wealth of artifacts on display at the Museum of Man includes some of the best-known objects found in a Judean cave called the Cave of the Treasure. Many are on loan from the Israel Museum. The 6,000-year-old maces, scepters and other ‘prestige’ objects – most being shown outside of Israel for the first time – indicate a relatively advanced civilization. But there was no evidence of where the objects had been made. In one of his earliest excavations in the 1970s, UCSD’s Levy found metal workshops in the Negev desert – just 80 miles away from the Cave of the Treasure.
More recently, Levy uncovered the largest ancient copper factory, dating back 3,000 years to the time of King David and other Biblical figures. Every summer the Department of Anthropology professor takes graduate and undergraduate students to the site in Jordan’s Faynan district, where they spend two months methodically – and painstakingly – excavating the ruins at Khirbat en-Nahas. The site remains visible via satellite, thanks to its blackened surface -- betraying thousands of tons of black metallurgical slag produced by the long-ago metal workshops.
While most of the exhibit features artifacts from the Middle East, “Journey to the Copper Age” also takes visitors to a small town in the south of India. In a half-hour documentary produced by the UCSD division of Calit2, Levy visits a workshop in Swamimalai where hereditary bronze casters – hereditary, because most can trace their family profession back 1,000 years -- use a technology that the UCSD expert believes may have been used by Copper Age artisans.
The “lost wax” method involves carving a wax model, then building a mold around it and heating it enough to dissolve the wax, which is drained out of the mold, before molten metal is then poured in. The video documents the process as the metal workers use the lost wax method to make a replica of a twin-headed ibex mace head discovered in 1961 in the Cave of the Treasure...more>>
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