The metal arts of Elam

Authored by: François Bridey

The Elamite World

Print publication date:  January  2018
Online publication date:  January  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138999893
eBook ISBN: 9781315658032
Adobe ISBN:


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Although the beginnings of metallurgy are in large part the result of chance, the proximity of mineral deposits seems to have played a role in triggering the development of the first forms of metalworking. Thus, Anatolia, Palestine and Iran, all three regions naturally rich in minerals, were pioneers in this field. The archaeological excavations carried out in Iran, particularly those in Susa since the end of the 19th century and then on the plateau for the past 30 years, have yielded numerous metal objects as well as metallurgical furnishings and installations which testify to the development of metalwork and the very high technical level reached in certain periods by the metalworkers of the Iranian world. Considering the importance, both in number and quality, of the discoveries it has delivered, the site of Susa is the major reference for the metallurgical production of this region of the Near East, even if excavations have not revealed any metal workshops. Amongst the considerable mass of Susa’s metal artefacts are tools, weapons, vessels and ornaments, mainly delivered by burials, as well as small and large statuary, which participate not only in partly defining Elamite art and craft but also our knowledge of the techniques mastered by the metalworkers. This “Elamite” metallurgy, which would concern stricto sensu the period extending between ca. 2700 and 525 BC, is nevertheless inseparable from a wider production, which was attested well before the political constitution of the kingdom of Elam, and which has made it possible to determine the technological, typological and stylistic milestones of a history of metallurgy and metal arts in the Iranian world.

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