A Luristan ceremonial bronze macehead of tubular shape. The upper half comprises two registers, each similar but off-set to each other. Each register has three vertical columns of small button knobs, alternating with three plain columns. The lower half is plain. Surfaces with a light green patination throughout, except for the tips of a few knobs, exposing the deep natural bronze patina below.
Luristan bronze comes from the province of Lorestan, a region situated in the area of modern South-Western Iran. In ancient times a number of nomadic populations, such as the Medes, the Kassites and eventually the Persians, settled in the area. Due to the nomadic nature of the tribes, none of the Luristan bronzes were of great size, since it was required for them to be light and portable. Their artwork mainly comprises ornaments, vessels and weapons. Cast spike-butted axes are hallmarks of Luristan bronze weaponry during the First Iron Age Period, between 1200 and 1000 BC. Most of Luristan bronze items have been recovered in funerary contexts.
A macehead may have been mounted on a shaft as a symbol of rank, perhaps a derivative from a weapon of similar form. Throughout the ancient world, maceheads varied significantly, and we know of a great number with different styles and decorations. Several important examples were shaped by the local metalworkers in Luristan and Gilan from the third millennium BC. These mace heads may not only have served a purpose in warfare, but also in religious contexts – perhaps being associated with piety in Luristan. Indeed, maceheads played an important role as votive offerings in shrines across Mesopotamia.