Kestel is a probable site of Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 in the Taurus Mountains
Taurus Mountains
Taurus Mountains are a mountain complex in southern Turkey, dividing the Mediterranean coastal region of southern Turkey from the central Anatolian Plateau. The system extends along a curve from Lake Eğirdir in the west to the upper reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in the east...

 in ancient Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 (now Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

). Tin was as scarce and valuable as petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 is today in the Bronze Age. It was a vital ingredient of bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

, used with copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 to make the alloy
An alloy is a mixture or metallic solid solution composed of two or more elements. Complete solid solution alloys give single solid phase microstructure, while partial solutions give two or more phases that may or may not be homogeneous in distribution, depending on thermal history...


K. Aslihan Yener
K. Aslihan Yener
K. Aslihan Yener is an archaeologist of Turkish descent whose work on Bronze Age tin mines in Anatolia revealed a new possible source of the important metal.-Education and early years:...

 spent years in archaeometallurgy surveys together with the Turkish Geological Survey (MTA) and found cassiterite
Cassiterite is a tin oxide mineral, SnO2. It is generally opaque, but it is translucent in thin crystals. Its luster and multiple crystal faces produce a desirable gem...

 (tin ore
An ore is a type of rock that contains minerals with important elements including metals. The ores are extracted through mining; these are then refined to extract the valuable element....

) crystal
A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. The scientific study of crystals and crystal formation is known as crystallography...

s in a stream in the Taurus foothills
Foothills are geographically defined as gradual increases in elevation at the base of a mountain range. They are a transition zone between plains and low relief hills to the adjacent topographically high mountains.-Examples:...

. This ore is purple
Purple is a range of hues of color occurring between red and blue, and is classified as a secondary color as the colors are required to create the shade....

; previous searches had been looking for black ore because most tin ores are black. Near the site was a deserted valley with a hill called Kestel that proved to hold a tin mine. Additionally, fragments of Bronze Age pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

 were found in and near the mine. Inside, there were veins of bright purple tin ore.

The Kestel mine has two miles (3 km) of tunnel
A tunnel is an underground passageway, completely enclosed except for openings for egress, commonly at each end.A tunnel may be for foot or vehicular road traffic, for rail traffic, or for a canal. Some tunnels are aqueducts to supply water for consumption or for hydroelectric stations or are sewers...

s, many of which are only about two feet wide, just large enough to allow children to do the mining work. In one abandoned shaft, a burial
Burial is the act of placing a person or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.-History:...

 of twelve to fifteen children was found, presumably killed while working in the mine.
In 1989, on a hill opposite the mine, associates found piles of Bronze Age pottery, close to 50,000 ground stone tool
A tool is a device that can be used to produce an item or achieve a task, but that is not consumed in the process. Informally the word is also used to describe a procedure or process with a specific purpose. Tools that are used in particular fields or activities may have different designations such...

s and evidence that this site had been continuously occupied from 3290-1840 BC. A great deal of the city was semi subterranean. The pottery at the site (named Göltepe) provided the final proof of the tin industry in the Bronze Age. Many thick crucible
A crucible is a container used for metal, glass, and pigment production as well as a number of modern laboratory processes, which can withstand temperatures high enough to melt or otherwise alter its contents...

s, lined with slag
Slag is a partially vitreous by-product of smelting ore to separate the metal fraction from the unwanted fraction. It can usually be considered to be a mixture of metal oxides and silicon dioxide. However, slags can contain metal sulfides and metal atoms in the elemental form...

 were found at the site and tests revealed the slag to have very high concentrations of tin (30% to almost 100%). It is likely that after the ore nuggets were washed, stone tools were used to grind them to a powder
Powder (substance)
A powder is a dry,thick bulk solid composed of a large number of very fine particles that may flow freely when shaken or tilted. Powders are a special sub-class of granular materials, although the terms powder and granular are sometimes used to distinguish separate classes of material...

, and then the powder was heated to melt out the tin. All of this can be accomplished with Bronze Age tools and methods. This was somewhat surprising because early Assyrian records indicated that they imported tin into Anatolia, suggesting that the area did not have a supply of its own. In turn, the Assyrians imported large quantities of tin from Afghanistan. The Kestel mine stopped producing at the end of the third millennium BC.
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