Ancient Metallurgy and Socio-Economic Complexities in the 4th Millennium BCE on the Iranian Plateau

Document Type : Research Article


Department of Archaeology, University of Mazandaran, Iran


Metalworking, due to its special technical and production-related characteristics, played a very important role in ancient societies and the study of the archaeological evidence related to it is fundamental to understand ancient socio-economic complexities. Mining, smelting, annealing, casting, production of ingot, as well as alloying, are some of the stages in the metalworking process. The present study analyzes the background of the specialized metal production on the Iranian Plateau and the related demand for raw materials or metal products. The central, eastern, and south-eastern areas of Iran are here considered as the most important regions in the formation and expansion of the metallurgy in south-western Asia. In addition, the production and distribution of metal at the regional and trans-regional level was one of the most important factors in the formation and expansion of complex societies, and fostered the political economy and the emergence of agency institutions and sovereignty in these regions of Iran. Copper ingot was one of the commodities traded in the 4th millennium BCE and later. There are two other important points in the field of archaeometallurgy of Iran. Firstly, the specialized metal production process allowed just men to assign strict mining and smelting operations. Secondly, the rulers by means of the strategic activity of metallurgy provided the basis for the continuation of the social and economic benefits acquired by them and the sustainability of the state of society.


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