Early mining landscapes in the ancient Near East and Central Asia

We have been conducting research on the history of mining and metallurgy in the Caucasus and the ancient Near East for decades. The focus of the studies is on strategies in the early extractive industries of gold, copper and salt.

With the project "Salt, copper, gold: Early mining in the Caucasus" we succeeded in finding evidence of a gold mine in Sakdrissi which is around 6000 years old – the oldest in the world. Much information can also be derived from the surrounding countryside with its contemporary settlements and miners’ burial grounds.
The "The Salt Men of Zanjan“ project is connected to this in both time and space. It aims to research the mining structure, the preserved organic objects and mummies, and the economic structure of the Iranian salt mine of Chehrabad. Preliminary findings have shown that the Achaemenid mining industry was evidently operated on a seasonal basis and by outside groups.


Research projects

Salt, Copper, Gold: Early mining in the Caucasus

Salt, Copper, Gold: Early mining in the Caucasus

The Caucasus was one of the most important ore-containing mountain ranges of the ancient world, or more specifically of the ancient Orient. As the country of the “Golden Fleece”, it includes the western part of Georgia, Colchis, a name synonymous, in ancient times, with an abundance of gold.

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The Salt Men of Zanjan

The Salt Men of Zanjan

In the Iranian salt mine of Chehrabad, in the province of Zanjan, a window has been opened on prehistoric mining: in 1994, 2004 and 2005, workers and archaeologists discovered the mummified remains of five miners who had been killed in a mining accident.

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The Copper Age settlement mound of Pietrele (Măgura Gorgana) on the lower Danube

The Copper Age settlement mound of Pietrele (Măgura Gorgana) on the lower Danube

The settlement mound of Măgura Gorgana, roughly 7 metres high, lies close to the modern-day village of Pietrele in southern Rumania near the Danube valley. In the 5th millennium Pietrele was part of the northern settlement system in the area of the lower Danube.

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On the archaeometallurgy of the southern Levant and Egypt

On the archaeometallurgy of the southern Levant and Egypt

For decades the DBM carried out research in southern Jordan and in Israel, on technological and cultural developments in mining and smelting. The studies in the ore districts of Faynan and Timna concentrated on aspects of early copper extraction.

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Unknown Kazakhstan - Archaeology in the heart of Asia

Unknown Kazakhstan - Archaeology in the heart of Asia

Research so far has focused on the rich deposits of eastern Kazakhstan, especially the tin deposits and their Bronze Age exploitation. These activities, which reached a preliminary end in 2010 (but which are intended to be continued), were presented to the public in a special exhibition of the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum in 2013.

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Copper and tin in the ore-bearing Altai Mountains – Bronze Age and Early Iron Age extraction of raw materials in eastern Kazakhstan

Copper and tin in the ore-bearing Altai Mountains – Bronze Age and Early Iron Age extraction of raw materials in eastern Kazakhstan

A research project launched in 2003 with the support of the Gerda Henkel Stiftung is concerned with the Bronze Age extraction of copper and tin in eastern Kazakhstan. The ore deposits lie mainly in the Altai Mountains and constitute one of the richest deposits of raw materials in Central Asia.

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Ancient Mining and Metallurgy at the West Central Plateau

Ancient Mining and Metallurgy at the West Central Plateau

Sub-project Veshnaveh: Bronze Age copper mining and early sacrificial altar
The rich mineral deposits of Iran were of great importance for the advanced civilizations of Mesopotamia, who did not have sufficient ore resources of their own.

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Studies on copper production in the Sultanate of Oman

Studies on copper production in the Sultanate of Oman

Oman first came to the attention of Near Eastern archaeologists at the beginning of the 20th century, when chemical analysis carried out in 1926 on metal artefacts from Mesopotamia and slag from the Sultanate suggested a connection with the ore deposits of the eastern Arabian Peninsula.

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Pre-Islamic tin mining in Central Asia

Pre-Islamic tin mining in Central Asia

From 1997 to 1999 research in the fields of mining archaeology, archaeometallurgy and settlement archaeology was carried out in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in a project on prehistoric tin mining funded by the VW Foundation. .

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Completed projects

Archaeometallurgical and mining archaeology studies in Feinan and in the region of the southern Wadi Arabah, Jordan

Archaeometallurgical and mining archaeology studies in Feinan and in the region of the southern Wadi Arabah, Jordan

The copper district of Feinan in Jordan is one of the most important and best explored mining regions of the Levant and the Middle East. Feinan offers an extraordinary opportunity to trace, step by step, the exploitation of an ore deposit and the development of copper metallurgy over a period of 4700 years.

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The documentation, conservation-restoration and excavation project in Bat (Oman)

The documentation, conservation-restoration and excavation project in Bat (Oman)

The Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum continued its association with Omani archaeology even after its research visits. This was the background to the expert opinion provided in 2002 at the invitation of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture of the Sultanate of Oman about the remarkable Chalcolithic and Bronze Age find complex of Bat near Ibri

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