Long-distance supply chains, vulnerable to disruptions from wars and disease outbreaks, may have formed millennia before anyone today gasped at gas prices or gawked at empty store shelves.
Roughly 3,650 to 3,200 years ago, herders and villagers who mined tin ore fueled long-distance supply chains that transported the metal from Central Asia and southern Turkey to merchant ships serving societies clustered around the Mediterranean, a new study finds.
Remote communities located near rare tin deposits tapped into an intense demand among ancient urban civilizations for a metal that, along with copper, was needed to produce bronze, researchers report in the Dec. 2 Science Advances.
Tin access transformed herders and part-time cultivators into powerful partners of Late Bronze Age states and rulers, say archaeometallurgist Wayne Powell of Brooklyn College in New York City and colleagues. Until now, it has been difficult to demonstrate the existence of such an ancient, long-distance tin supply chain or its geographic origins. [Continue reading…]