Tag Archives: Archaeology

The Iranian Plateau during the Bronze Age

Meyer, Jan-Waalke, Emmanuelle Vila, Marjan Mashkour, Michèle Casanova & Régis Vallet (eds.). The Iranian plateau during the bronze age: Development of urbanisation, production and trade. Lyon: MOM Éditions.

The book compiles a portion of the contributions presented during the symposium “Urbanisation, commerce, subsistence and production during the third millennium BC on the Iranian Plateau”, which took place at the Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée in Lyon, the 29-30 of April, 2014. The twenty papers assembled provide an overview of the recent archaeological research on this region of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The socio-economic transformation from rural villages to towns and nations has prompted many questions into this evolution of urbanisation. What was the impact of interactions between cultures in the Iranian Plateau and the surrounding regions (Mesopotamia, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, Indus Valley)? What was the overall context during the Bronze Age on the Iranian Plateau? What was the extent and means of the expansion of the Kuro-Araxe culture? How did the Elamite Kingdom become established? What new knowledge has been contributed by the recent excavations and studies undertaken in the east of Iran? What was the influence of the Indus Valley culture, known as an epicentre of urbanisation in South Asia? What are the unique characteristics of the ancient cultures in Iran?

While the urbanisation of early Mesopotamia has been the subject of much debate for several decades, this topic has only recently been raised in respect to the Iranian Plateau. This volume is the product of an international community from Iranian, European, and American institutions, consisting of recognised specialists in the archaeology of the Iranian Bronze Age. It provides an overview of the latest research, including abundant results from current on-going excavations. The current state of archaeological research in Iran, comprising many dynamic questions and perspectives, is presented here in the form of original contributions on the first emergence of towns in the Near and Middle East.

A Cylinder Seal with an Amorite Name from Tepe Musiyan, Deh Luran Plain

Zeynivand, Mohsen. 2019. A cylinder seal with an amorite name from Tepe Musiyan, Deh Luran plain. Journal of Cuneiform Studies 71, 77-83.

Cylinder seal and impression from Musiyan. Photographs by M. Zeynivand; drawing by Z. Qasemi.

The archeology of the Deh Luran plain was documented by the work of Frank Hole and his associates in 1960s and 1970s. While these investigations were mostly dedicated to the study of the village periods, the presence of early state formations on the plain was also documented by their surface surveys. Tepe Farukhabad was an exception, but because it was only a small settlement in the third and second millennia BCE, the excavations there did not yield fruitful results for this period. Based on their systematic surface study of Tepe Musiyan, Wright and Neely argued that during the third and second millennia BCE, this settlement played a central role in this strategic plain due to its location on the route from Susa to Der (Badra in Iraq). Recently, our team again surveyed the Deh Luran Plain. Our visit to Musiyan provided us with a cylinder seal discovered by one of the locals. The inscription reveals the owner as a person with an Amorite name who may have been present in Musiyan sometime during the early centuries of the second millennium BCE, contemporary with the end of the Šimaški period, which in Mesopotamia extends from late in the Third Dynasty of Ur until the early Old Babylonian period.

Ceramics and the Archaeological Achaemenid Horizon

Genito, Bruno & Giulio Maresca (eds.). 2019. Ceramics and the Archaeological Achaemenid Horizon: Near East, Iran and Central Asia. Napoli: Unior Press.

The book collects the proceedings of a workshop entitled “The Achaemenid Horizon in the Light of Ceramic Data: Production-related Issues and Cultural Interactions from the Ancient Near East to Central Asia” held at the Dipartimento Asia, Africa e Mediterraneo of the Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale” on January, 25th 2016. The idea was to organise a scientific colloquium to deal with the issue of the cultural interactions within the broad geographic area subject to the political control of the Achaemenid dynasty in the light of recent researches on the ceramic evidence from archaeological contexts both in “central” and “peripheral” territories of the Empire. The Organisers felt this was a particularly important task, since pottery production in this vast area during the Achaemenid period has always been an issue only partially known and, however, never addressed in a comprehensive way. Several reasons can be taken into account to explain this point. First of all the circumstance that the complex dynamics leading to the formation and to the development of the Achaemenid political and administrative entity, although quite well documented from an historical point of view, are in some cases somewhat evanescent if one tries to evaluate their material consistency on the field. In addition, the possibility to relate specific traces of the material culture to a cultural horizon clearly recognizable as “Achaemenid” seems to be an even more difficult task.
The workshop was conceived as a one-day colloquium having also the aim to develop a network to confront experiences, to share information, to open new research scenarios and to foster scientific cooperation.

Table of contents:

  • BRUNO GENITO, Introductory Issues on Archaeological Achaemenid Horizon
  • ALESSANDRO POGGIO, A Multi-Horizon Perspective. Western Anatolian Material Evidence in the Persian Period
  • ROCCO PALERMO, After the Empire. Archaeology of the Achaemenid and Early Hellenistic Period in the Heartland of Assyria
  • ROBERTO DAN, PRISCILLA VITOLO, MANUEL CASTELLUCCIA, ROWENA GIURA, From Urartu to “Media”. A Reassessment of socalled “Post-Urartian” or “Median” Pottery: 1. Vases with two Horned Handles
  • MANUEL CASTELLUCCIA, Some Remarks on Achaemenid Era Pottery. Assemblages from Transcaucasia
  • JACOPO BRUNO, Between the Iranian Plateau and Central Asia: the Ceramic Complex of the Upper Atrek Valley during the Achaemenid Period
  • GIULIO MARESCA, The Achaemenid Ceramic Horizon as seen from Ancient Zranka: an Overview
  • FABIANA RAIANO, Searching an Achaemenid Horizon in Sogdiana according to the Archaeological Evidences from the South-western Area of Samarkand
  • GIAN LUCA BONORA, The Cultural Persian and Achaemenid Evidence in the Inner Syrdarya Delta
  • ELISA IORI, Mind the Gap. Local Persistence and Iranian Legacy in Gandhara: New Evidence from Swat
  • Rémy BOUCHARLAT, Concluding Remarks

The gender division of labour during the Proto-Elamite period

Yousefi Zoshk, Rouhollah, Saeed Baghizadeh & Donya Etemadifar. 2019. The gender division of labour during the proto-Elamite period in late 4th millennium BCE Iran. A case study from Tepe Sofalin in Iranian Central Plateau. In Julia Katharina Koch & Wiebke Kirleis (eds.), Gender Transformations in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies, 423-434. Leiden: Sidestone Press.

This article examines craft specialisation and the gender division of labour in pastoral nomad societies on the Iranian Central Plateau in the late 4th millennium BCE, a time when specialisation reaches its highest level of complexity. In proto-Elamite communities, women’s involvement in non-domestic production increased as social complexity progressed. Although archaeologists have largely moved beyond these typologies, the remnants of these modes of thought that the role of women were underestimated are still pervasive in much of the literature on the gender division of labour. This article argues that in proto-Elamite societies, specialised production occurred within the household, using specialised workers, and that this involved the participation of men, women, and children. Using Iranian archaeology of the 4th millennium BCE, during which complex societies emerged, as a reference point, this article constructs the argument that the specialised workers divided within their gender may have been the centre of production before pre-state political systems, within a pastoral nomadism subsistence system. Such household production and payment of workers by means of rations does not necessarily connote a lower level of socio-political or economic development. In this article, we explore the history of research on proto-Elamite economic systems, in particular, archaeological research on late 4th millennium BCE Iran. We then use these concepts to examine the role of gender in specialised household production based on proto-Elamite written texts, which mainly deal with workers and rations.

Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan (AMIT): Vol. 48

Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan (AMIT): Vol. 48, 2016 [2019], ed. by German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Tehran Branch of the Eurasia Department

The AMIT is the only German journal for archaeology and history of the Iranian-Middle Asian region; prehistory and early history, archaeology, history and art history of the Achaemenid, Parthian and Sasanian empires as well as the Islamic Middle Ages in Iran and Turan and neighbouring regions. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag.

See here the Table of Content of vol. 48.

Ancient Knowledge Networks

Robson, Eleanor. 2019. Ancient knowledge networks: A social geography of cuneiform scholarship in first-millennium Assyria and Babylonia. London: UCL Press.

This book is currently available as open access from the publisher's website.

Ancient Knowledge Networks is a book about how knowledge travels, in minds and bodies as well as in writings. It explores the forms knowledge takes and the meanings it accrues, and how these meanings are shaped by the peoples who use it.

Addressing the relationships between political power, family ties, religious commitments and literate scholarship in the ancient Middle East of the first millennium BC, Eleanor Robson focuses on two regions where cuneiform script was the predominant writing medium: Assyria in the north of modern-day Syria and Iraq, and Babylonia to the south of modern-day Baghdad. She investigates how networks of knowledge enabled cuneiform intellectual culture to endure and adapt over the course of five world empires until its eventual demise in the mid-first century BC. In doing so, she also studies Assyriological and historical method, both now and over the past two centuries, asking how the field has shaped and been shaped by the academic concerns and fashions of the day. Above all, Ancient Knowledge Networks is an experiment in writing about ‘Mesopotamian science’, as it has often been known, using geographical and social approaches to bring new insights into the intellectual history of the world’s first empires.

Eleanor Robson is Professor of Ancient Middle Eastern History at UCL.

Archaeology of Empire in Achaemenid Egypt

Colburn, Henry P. 2019. Archaeology of Empire in Achaemenid Egypt. Edinburgh University Press.

Previous studies have characterised Achaemenid rule of Egypt either as ephemeral and weak or oppressive and harsh. These characterisations, however, are based on the perceived lack of evidence for this period, filtered through ancient and modern preconceptions about the Persians.

Henry Colburn challenges these views by assembling and analyzing the archaeological remains from this period, including temples, tombs, irrigation works, statues, stelae, sealings, drinking vessels and coins. By looking at the decisions made about material culture – by Egyptians, Persians and others – it becomes possible to see both how the Persians integrated Egypt into their empire and the full range of experiences people had as a result.

Continue reading Archaeology of Empire in Achaemenid Egypt

The Archaeology of Afghanistan

Allchin, Raymond, Warwick Ball & Norman Hammond (eds.). 2019. The archaeology of Afghanistan from earliest times to the Timurid period. Edinburgh University Press.

Afghanistan is at the cultural crossroads of Asia, where the great civilisations of Mesopotamia and Iran, South Asia and Central Asia overlapped and sometimes conflicted. Its landscape embraces environments from the high mountains of the Hindu Kush to the Oxus basin and the great deserts of Sistan; trade routes from China to the Mediterranean, and from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea cross the country. It has seen the development of early agriculture, the spread of Bronze Age civilisation of Central Asia, the conquests of the Persians and of Alexander of Macedon, the spread of Buddhism and then Islam, and the empires of the Kushans, Ghaznavids, Ghurids and Timurids centred there, with ramifications across southern Asia. All of which has resulted in some of the most important, diverse and spectacular historical remains in Asia.

First published in 1978, this was the first book in English to provide a complete survey of the immensely rich archaeological remains of Afghanistan. The contributors, all acknowledged scholars in their field, have worked in the country, on projects ranging from prehistoric surveys to the study of Islamic architecture. It has now been thoroughly revised and brought up to date to incorporate the latest discoveries and research.

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VOL. 20 of Parthica

Volume 20 of the journal “Parthica” (2018) contains several contributions of relevance to Iranian Studies.

Table of contents:

Continue reading VOL. 20 of Parthica

Iran 57(2)

Volume 57, issue 2 of Iran, Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies:

Iran 57(2).

Table of Contents: