Metalworking and Tools

Carol C. Mattusch

in The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199734856
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Metalworking and Tools

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  • Classical Studies
  • Greek and Roman Archaeology
  • Historical Archaeology



This article concentrates on the production of bronze sculpture. Greek metalworkers were skilled in extracting gold, silver, copper, tin, lead, and iron, and in forging, hammering, and casting a wide variety of objects in these metals. The evidence that can be found from vase paintings is presented. In addition, this article reviews the effect of Egypt on the Greek metalworking industry. The Greeks learned about metallurgical materials and techniques, and about the design and production of monumental stone architecture and sculpture from the Egyptians. Moreover, evidence concerning the metalworking industry in Olympia, Athens, and Corinth is then outlined. The physical evidence for alloys, workshops, and techniques used in the production of ancient bronzes reveals that the complete repertoire of mechanical and chemical techniques was applied to the production of a wide variety of political and religious monuments as well as everyday objects.

Keywords: bronze sculpture; Greek metalworking; vase paintings; stone; alloys; workshops; Olympia; Athens; Corinth

Article.  8379 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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