The term metallurgy includes the process of extracting metals and all the different stages involved (hammering, melting) for their shaping (metalworking) into utilitarian objects, such as jewellery, tools and weapons.

The need to find stones suitable for the construction of resistant tools and multicoloured jewellery led Man by chance to areas rich in metals as well. Copper, lead, silver and gold were the metals that attracted the interest of the Neolithic producer due to their bright colour and the way they could easily be shaped by simple hammering.

As in the Near East and Asia Minor, metals were initially used in Greece as well for the manufacture of jewellery. Large quantities of non-processed ore are encountered at Limenaria on Thasos, already from the Middle Neolithic. The working of gold, of silver and copper with hammering, cutting and smoothing is testified by jewellery dating to the Early and Final Neolithic.


The melting of metals in clay crucibles (open and shallow vessels), at controlled temperatures, using clay metallurgical cones, and their casting in stone and clay moulds, was also known from the last phases of the Neolithic. Metallurgical activities of this kind have been recorded as a result of finds of crucibles with remains of slags (a shapeless mass of burnt metal) from Sitagroi, Kephala on Kea and Yiali on the Dodecanese (Final Neolithic). Chemical analyses of copper objects and scoriae indicate the deliberate mixing of copper and arsenic (a metal encountered at copper mines) already from the Late Neolithic. The alloy of bronze from copper and tin appears in the Early Bronze Age.



At Ayios Sostis on Siphnos, a copper mine, which was in use from the Final Neolithic, has been investigated, while the silver of some jewellery of the same period originates, according to chemical analyses, from Lavrion mines. The mining of local metal ore sources, as well as smelting tools (crucibles, metallurgical cones) in Neolithic settlements confirm the in situ development of Aegean metallurgy, contradicting earlier theories that raw materials and objects were introduced from the East and/or the Balkans. The Aegean area was then one of the areas that received, in the framework of contacts and exchanges with the rest of the Neolithic world, the metallurgy know-how and developed it in situ.


Beads of copper and silver (Sitagroi, Dikili Tash, Dimitra), strips of gold and schematic figurines, silver earrings (Alepotrypa-Diros) and copper pins (Sitagroi, Zas Cave on Naxos and Kitsos Cave in Attica) are some of the metal jewellery pieces that have been discovered. Among tools, needles are encountered (Kastri-Thasos, Kephala-Kea, Dikili Tash), chisels (Pefkakia-Volos, Kephala-Kea), awls (Zas Cave, Kephala- Kea, Paradeisos-Kavala), spatulas (Zas Cave), flat axes (Sesklo, Dimini, Pefkakia, Knossos) and hammer-axes (Athens, Livadia, Mesolongi). In the category of weapons, triangular daggers have been unearthed (Ayia Marina- Phocis, Alepotrypa, Ayios Dimitrios-Triphylia).