Marcos Martinón-Torres Thilo Rehren


The technology of brass production in the Renaissance has received only little attention so far. This paper concentrates on late 15th-century brass production by studying crucibles recovered in Zwickau (SE Germany). Their scientific analysis by optical microscopy,
ED-XRF and SEM-EDX is presented in conjunction with a little known text on brass making written by Agricola in the mid 16th century. As a result, two main crucible types are defined: one big lidded pot used for brass making via cementation, and one smaller triangular vessel used for the melting and casting of the fresh brass produced in the former type. The particular compositional  characteristics and slag remains identified in each type of ceramic (big crucibles, lids, and small crucibles) are discussed in the light of their specific function and the diverse technical requirements that they had to meet. All in all, the archaeological picture almost exactly matches Agricola’s account, while it adds further information as to the technical details of the brass making process.


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How to Cite
Agricola and Zwickau: theory and practice of Renaissance brass production in SE Germany. (2022). Historical Metallurgy, 36(2), 95-111.