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.

After Oman’s period of self-imposed isolation ended in the early 1970s, foreign archaeologists, inspired by the book by British archaeologist Geoffrey Bibby, Looking for Dilmun, began to study the prehistory of Oman. One of the core research questions was whether Bibby’s thesis – that the coastal region of Oman was identical with the region of Magan mentioned in Mesopotamian sources – would stand up to archaeological investigation.
In 1977, G. Weisgerber embarked on preliminary investigations for the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum. Field surveys were gradually extended, and supplemented with excavations of settlement sites and cemeteries. The study also included examinations of various mines and smelter sites, using the methods of mining archaeology and archaeometallurgy/economic geology.
In the first seasons, work focused on the Bronze Age settlement of al-Maysar 1, situated in the Wadi Samad, near the settlements of Samad ash-Shan and al-Maysar. One particularly sensational find was an extensive collection of copper ingots and a stamp seal in house 4; another was the uncovering of an artisanal area in the northern part of the settlement. The excavations brought to light workshops for copper working, and signs of the production of vessels made of stone (série recente) and pottery. In the immediate vicinity of the settlement, the opencast mine, Maysar 2, and the cemetery, Maysar 3, were also examined.
Even if the main focus of attention was the Bronze Age finds, the traces of local copper production from the Iron Age and especially the Islamic period were also studied in detail. The slag heaps from the Islamic period, comprising several thousands of tonnes of material, bear witness to the importance of the region as one of the biggest exporters of copper over the centuries.

PhD thesis

Aydin Abar
Social aspects of production and processing in Bronze Age Oman

Project manager

Prof. Dr. Thomas Stöllner

Responsible body

Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum


VolkswagenStiftung (1977, 1980 - 1982)

Gulbenkian Foundation (1978 - 1979)

Ministry of National Heritage and Culture, Department of Antiquities in Muscat (1983 - 1985)

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (1987 - 1991)


Department of Antiquities in Muscat

Ministry of National Heritage and Culture

Ruhr-Universität Bochum




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