Argonne Project

The Argonne Project is a multi-disciplinary investigation of the relationship between military provisioning, political control, and metal manufacture in the ancient Near East with a focus on the chemical and physical properties of bronze weaponry. This project compares metal-making traditions during periods of local hegemony with manufacture during periods of imperial socio-political domination in the Levant (modern day southern Turkey) by the Assyrians and Persians. To do this, we used the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, IL, the highest power synchrotron X-ray source in this hemisphere in order to perform simultaneous X-ray fluorescence and X-ray diffraction analysis on dozens of projectile points from five ancient sites. These methods allow us to determine how they were made and if they were made differently depending on political control through non-destructive means—no cutting of objects to get a cross-section, as more common methods necessitate. This enables us to collect multiple samples from a single artifact and easier access to institutions’ collections that are otherwise disinterested in having their artifacts destroyed. Therefore, this research has increased the potential sample size and allowed us to effectively ask questions that were unable to be answered before. Our initial findings are currently in preparation for publication.This collaborative research includes scholars and students from across the continent, with contributions from Lynn Swartz Dodd (USC), Elizabeth Friedman (IIT), Jon Almer (APS), Laura D’Alessandro (U Chicago), Ali Mashayekhi (APS), Susan Mini (NIU), Carlo Segre (IIT), Sarvjit Shastri (APS), Heather Snow (U Toronto), Bradford Jackson (USC), Hadas Friedman (IIT), Shanshan Liu (APS), Nathan Majernik (IIT), Leonardo Melo (IIT), Renee Duncan Mestel (USC), Mitchell Miller (IIT), Miriam Mollerus (USC), James Roames (U Toronto), and Tiffany Tsai (USC).

Support for this project has been graciously provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, USC Academic Research Fund, Mellon Foundation, USC InscriptiFact, USC Provost's Undergraduate Research Fund.

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