Nikolas Heil

Portrait von Nikolas Heil

Nikolas Heil

I completed my Master’s degree in Pre- and Protohistory and Archaeology of Economics and Raw Materials at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum in 2020. In my Master’s thesis “The Beginning of the Metallurgical Tradition at Chalcolithic Arslantepe: The Metal Finds and Metallurgical Remains in Period VII” I dealt with the chemical and isotopic characterisation and an interdisciplinary analysis of the metal and slag finds from Arslantepe VII (3900-3400; LC 3-4). During my studies I was employed in various positions as a student assistant and I was able to study at Hacettepe University, Ankara for one semester through the ERASMUS programme.
Since February 2023 I am a project assistant in the new research project on metallurgy at Arslantepe at the German Mining Museum Bochum, funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation. Within this project, I will carry out my dissertation project.

The focus of my work is on the archaeology of Anatolia or Western Asia with the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age periods. In general, I like to understand social and technical processes, especially in the context of metallurgy and raw material appropriation. Therefore, I am interested in interdisciplinary approaches such as combining archaeometric and archaeological analyses.

Metals between the Caucasus and the Euphrates: The Metallurgy of Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Arslantepe

The Upper Euphrates in Eastern Anatolia shows significant changes at the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd mill. BCE. The tell Arslantepe near the present-day city of Malatya is a good example of the regional development and the changing influences during this period. In the history of settlement, various upheavals and changes can be observed, partly gradual and partly sudden. During this period, an intensification of metallurgy in Western Asia can be seen, which I will further investigate in this PhD project. 

The aim is to gain a better insight into the development at the transition of the Late Chalcolithic to the Early Bronze Age  through the results of the metal analyses. From trial-and-error phases, an intensification to the appearance of tin bronze, this period covers a significant period of metallurgical development. The study of metallurgy not only serves purely technological questions, but also helps in the discourse around the Kura-Araxes phenomenon and its interplay with local, urban cultural units. Of interest are the social and economic interactions as well as the questions of resource appropriation and the exchange of immaterial and material resources along these networks.

The chronological framework is formed by the periods Arslantepe VIA (LC 5, 3400-3200 BCE) and Arslantepe VIB2 (EBA I, 3100-2800 BCE), in which a steady intensification of Transcaucasian influence can be observed. The material for investigation will largely comprise copper resp. copper-based finds. Other known metals of this period are gold, silver and lead. The Arslantepe will play a central role due to the state of research and its metallurgical finds. Finds from the Caucasus such as Georgia or Azerbaijan will be used as comparative finds. The archaeometric analyses will focus on the characterisation of the major and minor elements and the determination of the trace element fingerprints and the lead isotope ratios. A survey will be undertaken to take additional reference samples of regional mineralisations and to identify potential mining activities.The preliminary work for the current project on metallurgy at Arslantepe was recently published in two articles (Hauptmann et al. 2022; Heil et al. 2022).


  • Hauptmann, A., Heil, N., Di Nocera, G. M. and Stöllner, Th., 2022. Making Copper: Processing in Early Bronze Age Arslantepe (VI B2). Metalla, 26(2), pp.113-140.
  • Heil, N., Hauptmann, A., Di Nocera, G.M. and Stöllner, Th., 2022. The Dawn of Metallurgy at Chalcolithic Arslantepe: Metal Finds and Other Metallurgical Remains from Level VII. Metalla, 26 (2), pp.87-112.