Luristan, the central area on Persia’s western frontier, developed sophisticated and prolific metal-working technology from the third millennium BC. With manufacture not suffering decline until the seventh century BC, over this extensive period metalworkers were essential for supplying and arming both local wealthy patrons and the warring factions of the day.
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.
A number of bronze macehead examples have been found in the Luristan area without archaeological context. They may have Elamite or Mesopotamian origins, as these decorations were characteristic of both areas. Their function is not easy to define, usually being referred to as handles.