A photograph of the copper ingots found in Oman.

4,300-Year-Old Copper Ingots Unearthed in Oman

In an unexpected find, German archaeologists have unearthed copper ingots over 4,300 years old during an ordinary dig at ancient settlements in Oman. This discovery, notable for its rarity and antiquity, provides a compelling glimpse into the lives of Oman's early residents.


During an ordinary archaeological exploration at age-old human dwelling sites in Oman, a team of dedicated German researchers stumbled upon a significant find. As they carefully sifted through the earth, the unexpected happened—they unearthed copper ingots dating back over 4,300 years. The finding, remarkable in its rarity and age, added a new layer of intrigue to their mission. These copper ingots, relics of an ancient time when this metal held prominent economic and practical value, are set to provide fresh insights into the life, culture, and trade practices of Oman’s early inhabitants.

4,300-Year-Old Copper Ingots

During an ordinary excavation, archaeologists Irini Biezeveld and Jonas Kluge of Goethe University Frankfurt made a surprising find. In the ground near the city of Ibra in Oman, they uncovered 4,300-year-old copper ingots. This unexpected discovery promises to spur further research into the region’s past.

From a Local Tip to a Major Find

The archaeologists were tipped off by locals, leading them to several ancient settlements near Ibra. Biezeveld and Kluge spent six weeks in the country, under the auspices of the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft (DOG) and the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism of Oman, based in the North Sharqiyah Governorate.

Discovering More Than Charcoal: Ancient Copper Ingots

Their primary aim was to date the settlements using any charcoal they found. As they dug into the soil and explored the visible structures, a green hint led them to a corroded lump of copper. It turned out to be three individual ingots shaped like round cones.


“This discovery is quite rare,” says their academic supervisor, Dr. Stephanie Döpper. The villagers might have inadvertently left the ingots, weighing 1.7 kilograms, when they vacated the settlement.

Unraveling the Past of Oman

The discovered settlement dates back to the Early Bronze Age (2600-2000 BC). During this era, Oman was a significant copper supplier for ancient Mesopotamia and the Indus culture. In this arid region, copper ore was abundant, crafted into ingots, and highly sought after.

Insight Into Early Metal Processing

Copper ingots were typically further processed to create tools, making archaeological finds like this one rare. The ingots’ plano-convex shape, formed by pouring molten copper into clay crucibles, offers valuable insights into Oman’s role in Early Bronze Age interregional trade and the metal processing techniques used.

Understanding Resource Management in the Bronze Age

Smelting copper requires a large quantity of combustible material—a significant challenge in arid Oman. Unanswered questions remain about the Early Bronze Age residents’ sustainable use of limited resources, which the team plans to explore further.


Evidence of Interregional Exchange

The site also revealed “black-slipped jars,” large storage vessels from the Indus culture, suggesting a close trade relationship with the Indian subcontinent. This implies even a small rural settlement in central Oman was integrated into an interregional system of trade and exchange of goods.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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