Levänluhta jewellery links Finland to a European exchange network

Our results, the first-ever lead isotope (LI) analysis of copper-based archaeological artefacts found in the region of Finland, have received national and international media coverage.

Eight metal objects recovered from the Iron Age water burial site of Levänluhta in western Finland were analysed via multi collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS) and portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (pXRF) in order to attain geochemical and LI data. The majority of the objects are Merovingian period (ca. 550–800 CE) jewellery, displaying domestic Iron Age artefact styles, and were probably cast by local workshops in Finland.  Comparisons between the LI data of the analysed objects and published ore databases exclude the possibility of a domestic or Scandinavian copper source for the metals. Instead, it appears
likely that the copper originated from southern European ores. The metals were transported for long distances, and it appears that the pan-European metal circulation network also crossed the Baltic Sea to reach coastal Finland.

Holmqvist, E., A. Wessman, I. Mänttäri and Y. Lahaye 2019. Lead isotope and geochemical analyses of copper-based metal artefacts from the Iron Age Water burial in Levänluhta, Western Finland. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.05.019