- Tin was essential for the production of bronze, which is an alloy of copper and tin. It was always a precious commodity and, like all metals, had to be imported to Mesopotamia. The first experiments in casing true tin bronze occurred in the late Uruk period, as isolated finds from Tepe Gawra document. A flagon discovered at Kish and dating from the Jemdet Nasr (beginning of the third millennium B.C.) is one the earliest tin bronze objects. Finds from the Ur cemetery suggest that tin bronze was preferred for metal vessels, while silverbronze was used for weapons. Actual tin artifacts are so far only known from finds in some early Old Babylonian tombs. No cuneiform sources reveal the place of origin of tin, only its sites of distribution. It is likely that tin was mined in eastern Anatolia during the third millennium and exported from there to many distant places. In the early second millennium, however, Assyrian merchants brought tin to Anatolia, where it was traded for locally produced silver. It has been suggested that at that time tin came from much farther east, from Afghanistan, perhaps because Anatolian mines had become exhausted. Mari also was an important station of distribution in the early Old Babylonian period. In the later second and in the first millennia, eastern Anatolia once again supplied tin, as Hittite and Assyrian sources indicate.
Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. EdwART. 2012.
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