Tag Archives: Bronze Age

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 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.

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