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Report No.
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Burial environment of bronze artifacts and behavior of bronze metal components at Yanagisawa archaeological site in Nagano Prefecture

Mitsui, Seiichiro; Murakami, Ryu*; Ueda, Norio*; Hirabayashi, Akira*; Hirota, Kazuho*

Well-preserved bronze artifacts comprising five bells and eight halberds from the Yayoi Period were excavated at the Yanagisawa archaeological site in Nakano City, Nagano Prefecture in 2007. Comprehensive analysis of soil and groundwater samples at the site was carried out and geochemical calculations were made to better understand the local conditions that led to the artifacts being so well preserved. Analysis of the soil surface adjacent to the bronze artifacts identified cuprite (Cu$$_{2}$$O) as the main corrosion product. Migration behavior of the bronze metal components, copper, tin, and lead, both inside and outside of the burial pit, was also investigated. Copper and lead had migrated 2 m from the burial pit, whereas tin was confined to the immediate vicinity of the bronze artifacts. The difference in migration behavior of these elements can be explained in terms of the chemical stability of the solid phases. The main factor contributing to the well-preserved state of the bronze artifacts was the tin content, which is thought to have formed a protective layer of cassiterite (SnO$$_{2}$$) on the outer surface of the bronze artifacts.

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