The Function of a Chlorite Hand-Bag of the Halil Rud Civilization as Inferred from Its Wear Traces

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Cultural Heritage : Archaeology, History of Art, of Music and Cinema, University of Padua, Italy

2 Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Friuli Venezia Giulia, Trieste, Italy


A chlorite “hand-bag” belonging to the once-called “intercultural style” production, currently on exhibit in the National
Archaeological Museum, Tehran, is described focusing attention, for the first time, to the peculiar wear traces clearly
visible on the handle and along its contour. The strong wear suggests that the hand-bag was suspended for a long time on
a cord; and that in this setting it was gradually polished while rubbing against a soft surface, most probably a vertical one,
covered with cloth. While this inference is based on a single object, and therefore is far from being granted, we propose
that wear traces can provide a useful key for understanding the function of these peculiar objects. At a later stage of its
life-cycle, the hand-bag was broken and restored with iron fittings and nails. As the edges of the great Iranian deserts are a
favorable location for the recovery of iron-rich meteorites, we propose that the iron parts of the Tehran hand-bag should
be analyzed to test the possible presence of rare metals like nikel, niobium and others, more abundant in meteorites than
in terrestrial iron.