Iron Oxide Rock Artefacts in Mesopotamia c. 2600-1200 BC: An interdisciplinary study of hematite, goethite and magnetite objects [Paperback]

Martine Marieke Melein(Author)

ISBN: 9781784919641 | Published by: Archaeopress Archaeology | Year of Publication: 2018 | 268p, H11.5 x W8, 49 figures; 52 tables (85 plates in color)
Status: In Stock - Available

Iron Oxide Rock Artefacts in Mesopotamia c. 2600-1200 BC


The flourishing civilisations of Mesopotamia, nowadays Iraq and Syria, imported all kinds of materials from the surrounding regions. Iron oxide rock (hematite, goethite and magnetite) was very popular for weight stones and cylinder seals around 2000 BC. This research aims to determine the region of origin for the raw material, what made people start using iron oxide rock, and what led them to stop using it. To answer these questions, a multidisciplinary approach was applied. Geology and archaeology were combined to identify Northern Syria as the region of origin. Archaeometric research of the production process showed that technological change concurred with the start and end of the use of iron oxide rock. Cuneiform texts yielded, among other information, the earliest description of magnetism known to mankind. Furthermore, element and mineral composition of 50 artefacts from three Dutch collections were determined with modern, non-destructive analysis techniques.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of tables


1. General introduction

2. Formation, mineralogy and occurrence of iron oxide rocks

3. The archaeological evidence – a qualitative approach

4. The archaeological evidence – a quantitative approach

5. Hematite – the evidence from the cuneiform sources

6. Material Analyses

7. Conclusions and synthesis


Appendix I: Overview of Syrian and Mesopotamian history, and cylinder seal styles ca. 3000-1200 BC

Appendix II: The Database

Appendix III: Reference numbers used in the database

Appendix IV: Concordance of artefacts from the De Liagre Böhl Collection

Appendix V: Medical-magical texts mentioning iron oxide rock

Appendix VI: Material analyses per artefact

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