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Iron Making during the Migration Period

The case of the Lombards

Vasco La Salvia


This work explores the contribution of the peoples of the Barbaricum to the shaping of early medieval technology in Europe, with a particular reference to iron-making. Within this general cultural framework, the case of Lombards is analyzed in more detail, tracing the way their iron-making technological heritage developed: first, during their settlement on the Lower Elbe (first centuries AD) characterized by a Western Germanic technical culture, then, in Central Europe (AD 3rd/4th-6th), where they came into contact with a Celtic and provincial Roman substratum, and finally in Italy (second half of AD 6th to 8th). At this stage, Lombard craftsmen, who possessed the full range of technical-artisanal skills of iron-production that were integral to western Germanic culture, would have come into contact with practitioners embodying the technical knowledge of the Mediterranean heritage. This encountering of material cultures seems to have resulted in reshaping of the entire economic structure of the peninsula.