عنوان مقاله [English]
Ancient metalwork as an industrial craft has an scope of processes which range from extraction, smelting or melting of metal ores to production and distribution of metallic objects through trade. Depending on the specific metallurgical process, evidence remains from each of these underlined processes which through study can offer an insight to not only the metallurgical aspects but also on the socio-economic impacts of the metal industry. Given the importance of metal ores in socio-economic life, even after the establishment of Islam in the territories rich in metal resources, the mining and production of metal in lands such as Iran, were continued applying the indigenous technical knowledge.
Historians and geographers of the Islamic era have given accounts of the richness and high quality of metal ores in the Nishabur region; rich in copper, iron, silver and gold. The importance of Nishabur as a major city in Khorasan, and its politico-economic status during the Islamic era up to 12th Century A.D., made it into a densely populated city with an extensive and vivid social life which was supported by grand and rich bazaars. Nishabur’s bazaars were occupied by merchants and different craftsmen including smiths. There are different known types of metal objects excavated from Nishabur or some objects bearing the Nishaburian smiths’ signature. Also there are several collections of coins which have been minted at Nishabur as one of the minting centers in the Islamic world before the Mongol invasion.
Through the study of first-class written sources and archaeological field surveys, this essay is trying to find evidences of metallurgical works such as mining and smelting in Nishabur by taking into consideration the historical and economic status of the city. Studies were conducted to find the relation between metallurgical workshops and mines, and in term identifying the technology employed in smelting operations. The methodology of the archeological field studies selected for the present study consisted of a comprehensive field survey as well as intensive survey of the Central and the Mianjolgeh districts of modern Nishabur County. The comprehensive survey focused on rural habitats as ancient section of the sustained life in the region of Nishabur. The significance of villages as the focal point of the comprehensive survey in this research is due to the fact on which based the texts study, written references and local data they have mostly preserved their original names, ancient sites and indigenous ethnics.
Stressing the ancient nature of most villages and using the knowledge of the residents in each village (local living data), the surrounding zones of the villages were surveyed to detect the significant distribution of witnesses of mining and exploration, industrial premises (premises for metal extraction) and living quarters. Each of the identified premises was individually subjected to an intensive survey and study the extent of archeological data and understand the features of mine exploration and metalworking as well.