Metal of the Bronze Age cultures from central and eastern Kazakhstan

Provenance, production and distribution – an archaeological and archaeometric study

The regions of central and eastern Kazakhstan had a special significance for metallurgy in Bronze Age Eurasia. Important metallurgical centres within the Eurasian Metallurgical Province (EMP) emerged here on the basis of rich deposits of copper and tin ore, which were tapped from an early stage. These centres were in contact with various parts of the Eurasian steppe area, and it is thought that this later led to the development of the well-known Silk Road.

How did the metallurgy and metalworking centres in central and eastern Kazakhstan come into being, and on what technological and cultural basis? What typological and above all technological features are characteristic of these centres? Is it possible to identify the location of ore deposits in central and eastern Kazakhstan which supplied the raw materials for the Bronze Age metal finds known to us? How widely was this metal distributed? How large was the sphere of influence of the different metallurgy centres? Are there particular find types which are only characteristic of our area of work, which should be reflected both in the typology and in the composition and possibly the working of the metal? Within the find series that are typical on a supra-regional level, are there specimens which, judging by their metal or their working, come from central or eastern Kazakhstan? How widely are they distributed?
These are some of the questions which have so far been addressed insufficiently or not at all. Without satisfactory answers to such questions, however, it is not possible to understand how the extremely important metallurgical centres in central and eastern Kazakhstan functioned, or to comprehend their significance for Eurasia’s Bronze Age metallurgy and cultural development. The planned study is intended to close a research gap: the Bronze Age metal finds from the western parts of Eurasia were dealt with comprehensively in the second half of the 20th century. The finds from central and eastern Kazakhstan, however, have not been sufficiently investigated, even though researchers have suspected for some time that tin and tin bronzes made their way from there to western parts of Eurasia. The planned study will therefore carry out a comprehensive examination of Bronze Age metal finds from central and eastern Kazakhstan, using various methods: typology, provenance studies, lead isotope analyses, metallographic tests and scientific dating methods. These will make it possible to create a systematic and complete portrait of the emergence, development and function of the metallurgy centres. The findings will be able to make an important contribution to the discussion of Bronze Age metallurgy in Eurasia, and will encourage the use of modern methods of investigation in the neighbouring areas.

Further PhD thesis

Hande Özyarkent
Economy and mobility pattern of Bronze Age Andronovo culture in central and eastern Kazakhstan

Relevant porject

Copper and tin from the Central Asian steppe

Project manager

Prof. Dr. Thomas Stöllner

Prof. Dr. Andreas Hauptmann

Prof. Dr. Reimar Seltmann (Natural History Museum, London)

Responsible body

Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum


Ruhr-Universität Bochum


2011 - 2014


  • Gontscharov, A., 2013. Bronze Age Mining Landscapes in Central and Eastern Kazakhstan. Metalla 20.2, pp. 6-7.