Study: Olive oil fed 2,000 B.C. foundries

Mar 07, 2006

Italian scientists have reportedly discovered the Mediterranean's first foundries were fueled by olive oil and not, as previously believed, by charcoal.

The researchers from Rome's Institute of Technologies Applied to Art made the discovery at a dig site in southern Cyprus that has already yielded the oldest wine and silk in the Mediterranean, as well as copper-smelting ovens dating to 2,000 B.C., the Italian news agency ANSA reported Tuesday.

The walls of the site were covered with thick, black resin that analysis showed was the burnt residue of olive oil.

"It's the first time in the history of metallurgy that this fuel has been found in place of charcoal," said ITAA's Maria Rosaria Belgiorno.

Copper from Cyprus is known to have been the most prized in the Mediterrean during the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1600 B.C.), she told ANSA. "This was probably because olive-oil smelting leaves fewer impurities from the ore."

She said the discovery of olive oil's potential was probably serendipitous. "A few olives may have fallen into a fire and people were surprised at how well they burned," she said.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: China's reform of R&D budget management doesn't go far enough, research shows

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Earthquakes over 5 magnitude shake Iceland volcano

6 hours ago

Two earthquakes measuring over 5 in magnitude—the biggest yet—have shaken Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano after the country issued an aviation red alert warning that an ash-emitting eruption may be imminent.

Airlines on alert as eruption begins in Iceland

20 hours ago

Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano burst forth with a small eruption Saturday under the ice of Europe's largest glacier, scientists said, prompting the country to close airspace over the area.

Two Galileo satellites lose their way

23 hours ago

Two European Galileo satellites launched as part of a navigation system designed to rival GPS have failed to locate their intended orbit, launch firm Arianespace said Saturday.

Recommended for you

Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

Aug 29, 2014

One wish many workers may have this Labor Day is for more control and predictability of their work schedules. A new report finds that unpredictability is widespread in many workers' schedules—one reason ...

User comments : 0