Explore highlights
Part of a hoard of silver currency


ME 135072-85

Room 52: Ancient Iran

    Part of a hoard of silver currency

    Median, buried in the 6th century BC
    From Tepe Nush-i Jan, western Iran

    This group of silver objects is probably the most important find at the Median site of Tepe Nush-i Jan. They were packed inside a bronze bowl and buried in the floor. Although the hoard was probably buried in the late seventh century BC, some of the items are very much older. The spiral beads and pendant probably date from the end of the third or beginning of the second millennium BC, suggesting that they had been found by Iron Age grave-robbers and were about to be recycled as scrap for their metal value.

    Nush-i Jan is one of the most important site of the Medes yet excavated. Four principal buildings were discovered: two temples, a columned hall and a fortified structure. It was probably the centre for a local ruler, and construction seems to have been started around 750 BC. By the sixth century, however, Nush-i Jan was reduced to a small, insignificant site, thus reflecting the general change in fortunes of Media as the state was taken by the Achaemenids during the mid-sixth century BC.

    The Medes were closely related to the Persians and were located around the area of modern Hamadan (ancient Ecbatana). The Assyrian records of the time list the Medes among many population groups. In 614 BC a Median king, Cyaxares, gathered sufficient forces to sack some of the great Assyrian cities (Ashur and Tarbisu) and with the Babylonians Nineveh in 612 BC. In 550 BC Cyrus of Persia fought off an attack by Cyaxares' son Astyages and took over the Median state which spread from western Iran through the former kingdom of Urartu (in eastern Anatolia) into what is now central Turkey.

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

    J.E. Curtis, Nush-i Jan III: the small find (London, British Institute for Persian Studies, 1984)

    A. Bivar, 'A hoard of ingot-currency of the Median period from Nush-i Jan', Iran-5, 9 (1971), pp. 97-111


    Browse or search over 4,000 highlights from the Museum collection

    On display: Room 52: Ancient Iran

    Shop Online

    Art and culture from Ancient Persia, £20.00

    Art and culture from Ancient Persia, £20.00