'The Good Bright Metal': Towards a Holistic Understanding of Southern Mesopotamian Metalwork c. 2300-1300 B.C.

Student thesis: Phd


Despite a lack of native ores, archaeological and textual evidence demonstrates that metal occupied a key role in the society and material culture of ancient southern Mesopotamia. The repertoire of metal objects uncovered from the region is expansive, encompassing a wide variety of tools, weaponry, jewellery and personal adornment, as well as examples of statuary, grooming instruments, musical instruments and various other object types. Cuneiform evidence in the form of economic texts indicates extensive trade routes through which metal moved; at times, even by the tonne. Metalwork also features significantly in the contemporary literature, such as in references to metalwork in myths, through the use of metal and its inherent shine as a metaphor for divinity, or in personified forms in a disputation text. This project aims to further current understanding of southern Mesopotamian metalwork by expanding the existing body of compositional data and information from extant assemblages, and by utilising approaches informed by recent developments in the wider discipline, to contribute interpretations that provide new, holistic insights into southern Mesopotamian metalwork. Simultaneously, this thesis seeks to address fundamental issues in previous approaches to the collection, recording and analysis of Mesopotamian metalwork and demonstrate the benefits of utilising approaches which vary from those traditionally employed.
Date of Award31 Dec 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorStuart Campbell (Supervisor) & Melanie Giles (Supervisor)


  • Bronze Age
  • Iraq
  • Metalworking
  • Metalworkers
  • Metallurgy
  • Metalwork
  • XRF
  • Archaeometallurgy
  • Archaeology
  • Mesopotamia

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