Gold strip fragments with coloured stone inlays

Early Iron Age, 8th-7th century BC
Perhaps from Ziwiyeh, north-west Iran

Decorated goldwork

These gold fragments probably come from Ziwiyeh in north-west Iran. This site is a large mountain top citadel fortified by a massive wall. The citadel is approached by a monumental staircase cut out of the rock which winds around the mountain. The site attracted clandestine excavators and many objects, now scattered in museums around the world, are alleged to have come from here. The looting of the site occurred in about 1946, when local shepherd boys are supposed to have discovered some gold objects. These drew the attention of local villagers and then of antiquities dealers to the site.

The style of the animals and birds' heads along the edge of these strips are thought be influenced by Scythian or south Russian art. The rings are soldered on to hold inlay. What the strips originally decorated is unknown. It is suggested that the Ziwiyeh material may have come from the tomb of a Scythian prince, or a Median chieftain. However, Ziwiyeh was most probably a stronghold of the Manneans, an indigenous people of the Zagros Mountains, who are mentioned in Assyrian records. To the north of this region Scythians followed their traditional life-style, with horse-borne warrior-elites maintaining their social position through rich booty acquired on raids.

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More information


J. Curtis, Ancient Persia-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)


Length: 19.400 cm (first strip)
Width: 3.200 cm (first strip)
Length: 19.400 cm (first strip)
Width: 3.200 cm (first strip)

Museum number

ME 134383;ME 134384



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