Robert Maddin, James Muhly, and Tamara Stech— 1994 Pomerance Award for Scientific Contributions to Archaeology

Award Citation:

It would be difficult to find a better example of creative synergy in archaeological science than the archaeometallurgical research of Robert Maddin, James Muhly, and Tamara Stech at the University of Pennsylvania between 1974 and 1984. In this decade they fused historical, archaeological, geological, chemical, and metallurgical evidence into a steady stream of papers that transformed our understanding of the origins of metallurgy, the nature of Bronze Age metal production and trade, and the transition from bronze to iron. For these and subsequent achievements in the study of ancient metallurgy, we honor them with the 14th Pomerance Award for Scientific Contributions to Archaeology.

Robert Maddin received his Ph.D. in metallurgy from Yale University in 1948 and had a distinguished career in physical metallurgy and crystal physics at Johns Hopkins University and then at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was Director of the School of Metallurgy from 1955 to 1972. James Muhly was appointed as Lecturer in the Department of Oriental Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 1969, the year in which he received his Ph.D. in Near Eastern archaeology from Yale University. Muhly's dissertation (published in 1973 as Copper and Tin: The Nature of the Metals Trade in the Bronze Age) was a landmark publication in the history of metallurgy, providing a bold synthesis of the historical, archaeological, and geological evidence for the sources of tin in the Early Bronze Age of the Near East, Levant, and Anatolia. Muhly's work caught the attention of Maddin, and in 1974 their first joint paper appeared in the Journal of Metals. In that year Tamara Stech joined the program as Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. She was one of the first to have formal training in both the humanities (a Ph.D. in Near Eastern archaeology, awarded by Bryn Mawr College in 1973) and in science. ·

American research on ancient metallurgy had until then been largely confined to the study of belles pieces in art museums. The University of Pennsylvania program was the first in North America to undertake systematic examination of assemblages of metals from archaeological sites. With major funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, they undertook studies of the metals from sites in Cyprus, Sardinia, Egypt, Israel, Anatolia, the Aegean, and Thailand, and of the cargoes of metal ingots from the Bronze Age shipwrecks at Cape Gelidonya and Ulu Burun. Their publications integrate chemical and metallurgical analyses with archaeological and historical data, and have substantially enriched our understanding of technological innovation and organization, of the economic and social significance of early metallurgy, and of the growth of long-distance trade in the lands around the Mediterranean.

This remarkably productive partnership dissolved when Dr. Maddin retired in 1984, but so much data had been generated by the project that publications continue to appear in the 1990s. Each of the three former partners has subsequently made substantial independent contributions to our understanding of ancient metallurgy. Dr. Maddin is not one to let the grass grow under his feet. Among his activities in "retirement" were the Honorary Directorship of the Center for Archaeological Research and Development at Harvard University from 1985 through 1987, the editing of a major volume on early metallurgy (The Beginnings of the Use of Metals and Alloys, 1988), and a Humboldt Fellowship to study Roman mining technology in Germany. Dr. Muhly launched, with R.H. Dyson, the Mesopotamian Metals Project in 1985, and has written extensively on Bronze Age trade and on the long-running controversy over early sources of tin. Dr. Stech founded the respected journal Archeomaterials and was its editor from 1987 through 1992.

We honor them today for significantly advancing our knowledge of the role that metallurgy has played in the development of civilizations, for their roles in developing appropriate scientific methods for archaeology, and for their intellectual productivity. But above all we honor them for demonstrating that interdisciplinary research differs from, and is superior to, multidisciplinary research in archaeology.

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