Studies on early mining on the Iranian Central Plateau

Studies on early mining on the Iranian Central Plateau

Fabian Schapals

ReForm Scholar

Affiliated to the ongoing project: DFG-SPP 2176: ‘The Iranian Highlands. Resilience and integration in pre-modern societies: Mining Landscapes of the Central Plateau between Resilient and Precarious Social and Economic Strategies”, I am working on my dissertation on early mining on the Iranian Central Plateau. In addition to a case study on early silver mining on the edge of the Qazvin Basin, I am working on a GIS-based analysis of early mining landscapes on the Iranian Central Plateau, focussing on the structure and development history of early mining landscapes. Furthermore, I use the often diachronic mining evidence to compare mining techniques and strategies with the case study on early silver mining. My motivation arises from the need to conduct basic research on early mining in an area that is considered to be one of the core regions of early metallurgy in human history. On the other hand, the previous research on the acquisition and distribution of ore resources in Iran and neighbouring areas is to be subjected to a reception.

In the case of early silver mining in the province of Qazvin, my aim is to place the site and the associated mining landscape in the context of early silver production on the plateau and to present a chronology for the site. This is important for understanding the acquisition of ore in a region of northern Iran which is characterised by early metallurgical contexts. For later epochs such as the ancient and Islamic periods, both the mining of Shakin and its neighbouring landscape show lively evidence. Here, the comparison and understanding of other mining landscapes on the Central Plateau should help to better classify them, for example in terms of organisational structures and resource procurement.


  • Schapals, F., Ghanbari, B., Karimi, H., Mostafapour, I., Nezafati, N., Stöllner, T., Complexity of ancient mining and settlement at the “modern” lead-silver mine of Shakin, NW Central Iran; a preliminary approach. Publications of the SPP2176. (accepted)
  • Stöllner, Th., Aali, A., Boenke, N., Doll, M., Franke, K., Ghanbari, B., Mostafapour, I., Nezafati, N., Özyarkent, H., Schapals, F., Zifar, H., Mining at the Fringes: Mineral Resource-Procurement at the Iranian Highlands between Traditional Practices and State-Control. Publications of the SPP2176. (accepted)
  • Stöllner, Th. Aali, A., Boenke, N., Davoudi, H., Draganits, E., Fathi, H., Franke, K.A., Herd, R.,
    Kosczinski, K., Mashkour, M., Mostafapour, I., Nezafati, N., Öhrström, L., Rühli, F., Schapals, F.,
    Schimerl, N., Sikorski, B., Zifar, H., On Command? Salt Mining Operation and the
    “Talkherud” Resource-scape in Northwestern Iran. Journal of World Prehistory (accepted).
  • Stöllner, Thomas; Gambashidze, Irina; Al-Oumaoui, Ihab; Baldus, Tobias; Berthon, Rémi; Belošić, Anamarija et al. (2023): Between Valleys and Mountains. The Dzedzvebi Plateau as an Intermediate Settlement Site of Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Communities in the Lesser Caucasus. In: Archaeologia Austriaca 107/2023, 65–136. DOI: 10.1553/archaeologia107s65.
  • Thomas, P., M. Radivojević, S. Derikonjić, F. Schapals, J. Pendić, A. Jablanović, K. Kosczinski, N. Heil, B.W. Roberts, M. Marić, E. Pernicka, Th. Rehren and T. Stöllner, Jarmovac, a new prehistoric mine in the Balkans. (In preparation)


  • Archaeometallurgy in Europe 2024. 11-14 June 2024 Falun, Sweden
    “The Silver Mine of Shakin (Iran). Mining techniques and “Proxies” for dating early silver mining between the Aegean and the Iranian Highlands.”
    Schapals, F., Stöllner, T., Nezafati, N. Mostafapour, I. (accepted)
  • ICAS-EMME 4; 4th International Congress on Archaeological Sciences in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. 15-18 May 2024. The Cyprus Institute, Cyprus.
    Early Silver in Shakin, Iran. Mining, settlement and landscape appropriation through time. A preliminary approach.
    Schapals, F., Stöllner, T., Nezafati, N., Mostafapour, I. (accepted)
  • Resourcescapes in the Iranian Highlands – Water, Wind and Minerals as Factors of Appropriation and Integration. A Workshop organised by the SPP 2176. German Mining-Museum and Ruhr-Universität Bochum (12./13.09.2022)
    “Mining at the Fringes: Mineral Resource Procurement at the Iranian Highlands between Traditional Practices and State Control.”
    Stöllner, T., Abolfazl, A., Boenke, N., Doll, M., Franke, K., Kosczinski, K., Mostafapour, I., Nezafati, N., Özyarkent, H., Schapals, F., Zifar, H.
  • 4th Balkan Early Metallurgy Symposium. Targu Jiu, Romania. 10.05.2015
    “The Rise of Metallurgy in Eurasia. Prehistoric Copper Ore Mining in Jarmovac, Proboj on Lim.”
    Thomas, P., Stöllner, T. Schapals, F., Derikonjic, S., Radivojevic, M. Pendic, J., Jablanovic, A. Kosczinski, K., Heil, N.
  • 20th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, Istanbul 2014
    “The Earliest Metallurgy in Eurasia: New Results from the Vinca Culture Sites in Serbia.”
    Radivojevic, M., Roberts, B., Rehren, T., Kuzmanovic-Cvetkovic, J., Derikonjic, S., Maric, M., Thomas, P., Schapals, F., Pendic, J., Stöllner, T., Rassmann, K., Mertl, P., Radloff, K., Jablanovic, A., Mirkovic-Maric, N., Amicone, S., Filipovic, D., Orton, D., Ibragmimova, E.