The smelting (processing raw ore) and smithing (shaping metal objects from processed ore) of copper is known from greater Mesopotamia from at least the fourth millennium BC. However, copper objects were rare among the artifacts recovered in curator Henry Wright’s excavations at Tepe Farukhabad, a fourth and third millennium BC town in southwestern Iran. The vast majority of tools there continued to be made of chipped or ground stone or ceramics. This small copper celt (axe) was found eroding from the site’s early third millennium BC (Early Dynastic) levels. A few earlier copper artifacts were recovered, but this particular period also yielded the first evidence for waste materials from the manufacture of metal objects. Chemical analysis could help to determine whether this object was locally produced or imported.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.