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Coins from Qasr-e Abu Nasr: archaeometallurgical and numismatic studies on pre-Islamic and Islamic coins excavated in South-Central Iran


A group of coins excavated at Qasr-e Abu Nasr, Shiraz, in south-central Iran, now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was studied and analyzed to examine the minting processes and to reconsider the numismatic history of the site. For this purpose, forty-three gold-, silver-, and copper-based coins were studied and analyzed by micro-X-ray fluorescence, scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, and metallographic techniques. The results of the analyses showed a wide range of alloy compositions. The gold coins are comprised of impure gold and electrum, while the silver coins are made of either near pure silver or debased silver copper. The copper-based coins are struck from a range of alloys, namely impure copper, tin bronze, leaded copper, and high-leaded tin bronze, closely correlated to the date and place of minting. The results of this interdisciplinary study provide new insights into the archaeology of Qasr-e Abu Nasr, as well as present new information about the history of minting on the Iranian Plateau.

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Data availability

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Code availability

Not applicable.


  1. For a concordance of QAN numbers and museum accession numbers, see Table 1.


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The authors are grateful to Dr. Kim Benzel, Dr. Michael Seymour, Daira Eden Robert, Chloe Lovelace and Shawn Osborne (Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art), Dr. Marco Leona, Maria Goretti Mieites Alonso and Dr. Atefeh Shekofteh (Department of Scientific Research, The Metropolitan Museum of Art) and Dr. J-F. de Lapérouse (Department of Objects Conservation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art) for their help in and support for the sampling and analysis of these objects. This research is a part of the post-doctoral fellowship held by the first author supported by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


This research is a part of the post-doctoral fellowship held by the first author supported by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. No special funding grant is provided for this research.

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OO: conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis, visualization, writing, and revision of the draft; HPC: Investigation, validation, writing, and revision of the draft; FC: methodology, validation, formal analysis, writing, and revision of the draft. All authors reviewed the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Omid Oudbashi.

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Oudbashi, O., Colburn, H.P. & Carò, F. Coins from Qasr-e Abu Nasr: archaeometallurgical and numismatic studies on pre-Islamic and Islamic coins excavated in South-Central Iran. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 15, 146 (2023).

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