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Joint Geological Associations Lecture, 20th January 2021: “An Irish El Dorado? Searching for the Source of Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Gold” by Dr Chris Standish, University of Southampton

20 January, 2021 @ 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM GMT

We are delighted to announce a joint CGA / IGA / GGA lecture this January 20th 2021!

“An Irish El Dorado? Searching for the Source of Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Gold”

by Dr Chris Standish, University of Southampton

Abstract: The Chalcolithic and Bronze Age of Britain and Ireland witnessed a marked growth in the deployment of rare and exotic materials. The first use of gold, a material that has fascinated and inspired humans for millennia, occurred during this period; it was used to produce an impressive array of objects, from neck ornaments and bracelets to cups and capes. Whilst today it is typically seen in an economic sense, its perceived value has varied in the past. Recognising its source location(s) and patterns of its procurement, trade and exchange, are essential if we are to ever gain an understanding of why this material was first considered valuable. However, despite the long-held belief that this source was located in Ireland, the absence of confirmed mine sites means our current understanding of prehistoric gold is lacking. Geochemical provenance studies offer a means by which the source(s) of metals can be traced, and here I will discuss both past and current attempts to source Britain and Ireland’s earliest gold. Probable source areas will be proposed, and the implications this has for the perceived value of gold in these early metalworking communities will be explored.

Biography: Dr Chris Standish is a geochemist and archaeologist based in the School of Ocean and Earth Sciences, University of Southampton. His research interests lie in the application of isotope geochemistry to the study of oceans, climate, and human societies of the past. This includes working on research projects that explore the procurement of metals, shed light on patterns of population mobility, quantify past rates of ocean acidification, and investigate how corals precipitate their skeletons. Specialising in inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP MS), he has a keen interest in the development of novel geochemical techniques and the use of laser ablation systems for minimally destructive analyses at high spatial resolutions.


Date and Time: Wednesday 20 January 2021 (via Zoom); 19:00-20:00

To Register: All welcome! Just e-mail irishgeologicalassociation@gmail.com before the 20th January 1pm.  A Zoom link will be sent on the day to those who have registered.


20 January, 2021
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM GMT
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