Meeting with Jean Dubos around manufacturing tools from the Bronze Age
My brief was to recreate a palstave using two of the known techniques for the period.
A) Using a stone two part mould (soapstone): after carving the shape of the object in each of the mould's parts, they are heated and held together by a clamp and the metal is then poured into the mould.
B) Using a two part clay mould: after creating a model it is encased between two parts of the clay mould to create the form. Once the model has been removed, the two parts are sealed using clay and fired before the metal is poured into the mould. The archaeologist is the first to hold excavated objects and uses different scientific methods to analyse them (radiography, metallography). But it is also interesting to find out how the objects were made and this is where modern workmanship comes into play by recreating the knowhow, the tools and the materials of these first metalworkers using the information from the study of archaeological objects. To recreate the palstaves the materials (and a good knowledge of metal alloys), the firing and the casting all need to be mastered, here, modern metalworkers can provide answers to questions asked by archaeologists in an exchange that can be fruitful for both. Confronted with the great expertise of these first metalworkers always leaves me in awe. How did they do it? To understand is to put aside our assurance and our modern day knowledge with great humility. My professional career started with a three year apprenticeship in metal fabrication, followed by a six year tour of France as a Compagnon (crafts apprenticeship). I was then appointed master of the Coubertin smelting works for 37 years. This has given me the opportunity of practising the different techniques of forming, hammering and casting in bronze for art objects (Rodin, Bourdelle, etc), but also reproducing objects for experimental archaeology: fibulae, a casting of the Soulac boar, the Pontoise calyx and a gold phalera for Guéry-en-Vexin.