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Metal artifacts, unlike fired pottery, provide no intrinsic qualities which allow of dating. Metallurgical anaylsis is beyond the scope of the average collector. Occasionally, the type of patinaton on copper containing alloys can give some helpful clues; such as the interesting blue hues which appear on bronze sword blades after millennial contact with leather. 


It  can sometimes be difficult to know what an ancient metal object was; especially if it is found in fragmentary form.


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