Archaeometallurgy Community

Arhaeometallurgy in fiction

  • 1.  Arhaeometallurgy in fiction

    Posted 07-27-2021 18:08
    A little while ago there was a thread elsewhere on ASM on metallurgy/materials in fiction. Can the same be said of archaeometallurgy? I think it can, if in  a slightly offbeat way. The English writer of detective fiction R. Austin Freeman (1862-1943) came close, and one must remember that his detective stories were written between 1907 and 1942. His hero was Dr Thorndyke, a qualified medical consultant and barrister-at-law and really the first important forensic scientist in fiction. A striking incident is in "The Eye of Osiris" (1911) where radiography of a mummy in the British Museum is X-rayed and an orthopaedic repair made with silver wire revealed. In fact the murderer has disguised his victim by skilfully mummifying it and donated to the British Museum. Metallurgy appears in a number of his books and one example involves the Pb-Pt phase diagram where thieves hide platinum ingots by dropping into molten lead sourced from the ballast of a yacht. When they re-melted the lead the platinum ingots were no longer visible. Anybody got a Pb-Pt diagram handy?

    I hope other examples are as much fun to read!

    Peter Northover

    Peter Northover
    University of Oxford
    +44 1865 820543