Preliminary Metallurgical Investigation of Copper-Based Artifacts at Tepe Sagzabad in Qazvin Plain, Iran (1500-800 BC)

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Faculty of Conservation, Art University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran

2 Department of Materials Engineering, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran

3 Department of Archaeology, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


Tepe Sagzabad, a site situated on the Qazvin Plain of north-central Iran, was excavated from 1970 to 1998 by the Institute of
Archaeology of Tehran University. Recent excavations by H. Tala’i (1997-1999) yielded some metal artifacts dating to the
Early Iron Age. Ten of these copper-based samples were investigated using inductively coupled plasma optical emission
spectroscopy (ICP-OES), scanning electron microscopy combined with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEMEDX)
and optical microscopy (OM). The results of these analyses showed that the metal objects at Tepe Sagzabad are
made of different copper alloys, including: pure copper, copper-arsenic and copper-tin. In addition, multiple procedures,
including hot-working, cold-working, and annealing were used as manufacturing techniques. The copper-based objects
from Tepe Sagzabad provide evidence for the continued use of pure copper and arsenical copper alongside tin bronzes on
the Iranian Plateau during the Early Iron Age.