Provenance of early Iron Age ferrous remains from southeastern Arabia

Ivan Stepanov, Lloyd Weeks, Bruno Overlaet, Peter Magee, Olivier Alard, Charlotte Cable, Yaaqoub Yousif Al Aali, Mansour Boraik Radwan, Hassan Zein, Peter Grave

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Recent excavations at Saruq al-Hadid, Dubai, have altered our understanding of the scale of early iron use in southeastern Arabia, producing more than 200kg of ferrous remains from early Iron Age contexts. However, the possibility of local iron production remains unclear, and many of the ferrous artefacts from Saruq al-Hadid show typological parallels with contemporary objects from Luristan in western Iran, raising the possibility of their long-distance import. The present paper explores the provenance of the earliest iron from southeastern Arabia, by: 1) summarizing the known evidence for the iron resources and technology in the region and adjacent areas; 2) presenting the results of archaeometric investigations of slag inclusions of ferrous objects and smithing slags from Saruq al-Hadid, Muweilah, Luristan and iron ores from UAE and Oman; and 3) comparing these data with previously published analyses of iron ores from the Near East. The study confirms that iron was not locally smelted, but imported, mostly as complete objects, from the western Zagros, supporting other material parallels with that region. The research provides critical new information regarding the technological and economic development of southeastern Arabia during the peak phase of the early Iron Age, in the late second and early first millennia BCE.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
    Publication statusSubmitted - Nov 2019


    • Archaeology

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