Tag Archives: Archaeology

Mountain Peoples in the Ancient Near East

Balatti, Silvia. 2017. Mountain Peoples in the Ancient Near East The Case of the Zagros in the First Millennium BC (Classica et Orientalia 18), Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag.

Since Prehistory, communities principally engaged in herding activities have occupied the intermontane valleys and plains of the Zagros (Western Iran). Relations, tensions and cultural exchange between the inhabitants of the mountains and the Mesopotamian plains already occurred during the Bronze Age. These contacts increased in the course of the 1st millennium BCE, as is suggested by Near Eastern and subsequently by Greek and Latin sources which provide us with numerous new names of peoples living in the Zagros. The present volume investigates the social organisation and life style of the peoples of the Zagros Mountains in the 1st millennium BCE and deals with their relationships with the surrounding environment and with the political authorities on the plains.

Among these peoples, for example, were the ‘fierce’ Medes, breeders and purveyors of fine horses, the Manneans, who inhabited a large territory enclosed between the two contending powers of Assyria and Urartu, and the ‘warlike’ Cosseans, who bravely attempted to resist the attack of Alexander the Great’s army. The Southern Zagros Mountains, inhabited by mixed groups of Elamite and Iranian farmers and pastoralists, were also of key importance as the home of the Persians and the core area of their empire. Starting from Fārs, the Persians were able to build up the largest empire in the history of the ancient Near East before Alexander.

The interdisciplinary approach adopted in this study, which juxtaposes historical records with archaeological, zooarchaeological, palaeobotanical and ethnographic data, provides a new, holistic and multifaceted view on an otherwise little-known topic in ancient history.

 

The Persian Gulf: Khark

Floor, Willem, & D. T. Potts. 2017. The Persian Gulf: Khark: The Island’s Untold Story. Mage Publishers.

 

The island of Khark was an important link in Persian Gulf navigation, supplying passing ships with water, victuals, and pilots for ships sailing to and from Basra. This was why the Arabs called Khark the Mother of Skippers (Umm al-Rubbaniyan). Through the ages, Khark has also been a place of pilgrimage: in Sasanian times, due to the presence of an early Christian church and monastery, and in Islamic times, because of the presence of the tomb of Mohammad al-Hanafiyya. In the eighteenth century, the Dutch made the island their center of trade in the Persian Gulf, and by the nineteenth century the island was dubbed the most important strategic point in the Persian Gulf, reason why the British occupied it twice. Although by 1900 the island had lost its strategic importance, it acquired it again after the 1950s, when the National Iranian Oil Company decided to make Khark its main terminal for the export of crude oil. Later, chemical factories were added to the island’s economic make-up. As a result, Khark s name is now better known around the world than it was ever previously, but the history has remained untold. This book tells the whole story, from the early archeological evidence and the Islamic and Safavid periods, to the Dutch projects in the eighteenth century and the British in the nineteenth century. And in the end, how the traditional way of life ended and industrialization began.

Archaeological research at Tappeh Pahlavan

Thomalsky, Judith. 2016. “Archaeological research at Tappeh Pahlavan, North Khorasan Province (Northeastern Iran): Report on the 2014 season“, ANES 53, 59-79.

In the summer of 2014, an Iranian-German team carried out the first systematic excavations at Tappe Pahlavan. The site is located in the Jajarm plain, a corridor between the Alborz Mountains in the north and the vast Dasht-e Khavir in the south. The surface of the site itself is littered with ceramics and the remains of an intensive production of stone beads. All stages of production are represented: from coarsely shaped pieces to finished polished beads. The most recent 14 C datings place the upper settlement horizon in the early sixth millennium BC. The site thus provides the earliest dates for the ceramic Neolithic period in Northeast Iran. The finds display clear ties with the Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods in Northeast Iran, and can be correlated with the cultural sphere of Kopet Dagh, located c. 200 km to the east. A large part of the retrieved ceramics can be described as a local Cheshmeh Ali variant. This ware would then be c. 500 years older than the hitherto known sequences, which as a rule begin after the mid-sixth millennium BC. Moreover, Djeitun ceramics, so characteristic for Northeast Iran and southern Turkmenistan and representative of the Late Neolithic in this region, are absent in Pahlavan. Hence, the question arises as to whether an early Chalcolithic must be postulated here, or an early manifestation of a local Cheshmeh Ali horizon.

Assyrianizing Contexts at Hasanlu Tepe IVb

Danti, M. D. and M. Cifarelli. 2016. “Assyrianizing Contexts at Hasanlu Tepe IVb?: Materiality and Identity in Northwest Iran,” In J. MacGinnis, D. Wicke & T. Greenfield (eds.), The Provincial Archaeology of the Assyrian Empire. (Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research), 357-370, The Provincial Archaeology of the Assyrian Empire.

In this paper, the author briefly surveys and reappraises some of the evidence for Neo-Assyrian contact at the Iron II (1050–800 BC) settlement of Hasanlu Tepe in the southern Lake Urmia Basin, located east of Assyria in the western Zagros Mountains of Iran

The Archaeology of Kurdistan

Kopanias, Konstantinos & John MacGinnis (eds.). 2016. The Archaeology of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Adjacent Regions.  Archaeopress Publishing Ltd.

Kurdistan is home to some of the most important archaeological sites in the world, ranging from the Stone Age to the most recent past. While in earlier decades this exceptional potential did not receive the degree of attention which it merited, the past ten years has seen a burgeoning of cutting edge archaeological field projects across the region. This volume, the outcome of a conference held at the University of Athens in November 2013, presents the results of this research. For the first time the archaeological inventory of the region is being systematically documented, laying the foundations for intensive study of the region’s settlement history. At the same time the area has seen a flourishing of excavations investigating every phase of human occupation. Together these endeavours are generating basic new data which is leading to a new understanding of the arrival of mankind, the development of agriculture, the emergence of cities, the evolution of complex societies and the forging of the great empires in this crucible of mankind.

See here the ToC of this book.

About the Editors:
Dr. Konstantinos Kopanias studied at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Paris- Lodron University of Salzburg and the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Athens, as adjunct faculty at the University of Crete and as an Allgemeiner Referent at the German Archaeological Institute in Athens.

Dr. John MacGinnis did both his degree and his PhD at Cambridge University and is a specialist in the archaeology and inscriptions of ancient Babylonia and Assyria, on which he has published extensively. He has worked on sites across the middle east, including Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Sudan and Turkey.

The New Chronology of the Bronze Age Settlement of Tepe Hissar, Iran

Gursan-Salzmann, Ayş. 2016.  The New Chronology of the Bronze Age Settlement of Tepe Hissar, Iran. Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology .

Tepe Hissar is a large Bronze Age site in northeastern Iran notable for its uninterrupted occupational history from the fifth to the second millennium B.C.E. The quantity and elaborateness of its excavated artifacts and funerary customs position the site prominently as a cultural bridge between Mesopotamia and Central Asia. To address questions of synchronic and diachronic nature relating to the changing levels of socioeconomic complexity in the region and across the greater Near East, chronological clarity is required. While Erich Schmidt’s 1931-32 excavations for the Penn Museum established the historical framework at Tepe Hissar, it was Robert H. Dyson, Jr., and his team’s follow-up work in 1976 that presented a stratigraphically clearer sequence for the site with associated radiocarbon dates. Until now, however, a full study of the site’s ceramic assemblages has not been published.

This monograph brings to final publication a stratigraphically based chronology for the Early Bronze Age settlement at Tepe Hissar. Based on a full study of the ceramic assemblages excavated from radiocarbon-dated occupational phases in 1976 by Dyson and his team, and linked to Schmidt’s earlier ceramic sequence that was derived from a large corpus of grave contents, a new chronological framework for Tepe Hissar and its region is established. This clarified sequence provides ample evidence for the nature of the evolution and the abandonment of the site, and its chronological correlations on the northern Iranian plateau, situating it in time and space between Turkmenistan and Bactria on the one hand and Mesopotamia on the other.

Ayşe Gürsan-Salzmann, a graduate of Robert College (Istanbul) and Ball State University, earned her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. She is Senior Consulting Scholar in the Mediterranean Section of the Penn Museum and the Deputy Director of the Gordion Archaeological Project.

Table of Contents

An unusual Khotanese terracotta head from the Sherabad oasis

Stančo, Ladislav. 2015. An unusual Khotanese terracotta head from the Sherabad oasisStudia Hercynia XIX(1). 218–226.

This paper deals with a newly found terracotta head from the Sherabad District, southern Uzbekistan. Its probable origin in the eastern Turkestan region of Khotan as well as its iconographic peculiarities and their interpretation is discussed.

Ancient Persia and the Archaeology of Empires

Khatchadourian, Lori. 2016. Imperial Matter: Ancient Persia and the Archaeology of Empires. Oakland: University of California Press.

What is the role of the material world in shaping the tensions and paradoxes of imperial sovereignty? Scholars have long shed light on the complex processes of conquest, extraction, and colonialism under imperial rule. But imperialism has usually been cast as an exclusively human drama, one in which the world of matter does not play an active role. Lori Khatchadourian argues instead that things—from everyday objects to monumental buildings—profoundly shape social and political life under empire. Out of the archaeology of ancient Persia and the South Caucasus, Imperial Matter advances powerful new analytical approaches to the study of imperialism writ large and should be read by scholars working on empire across the humanities and social sciences.

A free ebook version of this title is available through Luminos.

About the Autor                                                                                                          LORI KHATCHADOURIAN is Assistant Professor of Archaeology in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University.

Ancient Near Eastern Art

This slightly older publication has just come to my attention:

Kawami, Trudy & John Olbrantz (eds.). 2013. Source: Breath of heaven, breath of earth. Distributed by University of Washington Press for Hallie Ford Museum.

Breath of Heaven, Breath of Earth: Ancient Near Eastern Art from American Collections encompasses the geographic regions of Mesopotamia, Syria and the Levant, and Anatolia and Iran, and explores several broad themes found in the art of the ancient Near East: gods and goddesses, men and women, and both real and supernatural animals. These art objects reveal a wealth of information about the people and cultures that produced them: their mythology, religious beliefs, concept of kingship, social structure, and daily life.

About the authors:

Trudy Kawami is director of research at the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation in New York.

John Olbrantz is the Maribeth Collins Director of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

Mehrgān at Persepolis

Bahadori, Ali. 2015.  Persepolitan ceremonies: The case of Mehrgān. Ancient West & East 14. 51–71.

The celebration of the Mehrgān at Persepolis is a hypothesis that has never been discussed in detail. The present paper explores evidence for the presence of the Mithra cult at the Achaemenid court and, consequently, for celebration of the Mehrgān at Persepolis.