Tag Archives: Archaeology

Archaeology of Iran in the Historical Period

Niknami, Kamal-Aldin & Ali Hojabri (eds.). 2020. Archaeology of Iran in the historical period. Springer.

This collection of twenty-eight essays presents an up-to-date survey of pre-Islamic Iran, from the earliest dynasty of Elam to the end of Sasanian empire, encompassing a rich diversity of peoples and cultures. Historically, Iran served as a bridge between the earlier Near Eastern cultures and the later classical world of the Mediterranean, and had a profound influence on political, military, economic, and cultural aspects of the ancient world. Written by international scholars and drawing mainly on the field of practical archaeology, which traditionally has shared little in the way of theories and methods, the book provides crucial pieces to the puzzle of the national identity of Iranian cultures from a historical perspective.

Revealing the wealth and splendor of ancient Iranian society – its rich archaeological data and sophisticated artistic craftsmanship – most of which has never before been presented outside of Iran, this beautifully illustrated book presents a range of studies addressing specific aspects of Iranian archaeology to show why the artistic masterpieces of ancient Iranians rank among the finest ever produced. Together, the authors analyze how archaeology can inform us about our cultural past, and what remains to still be discovered in this important region.

Continue reading Archaeology of Iran in the Historical Period

Iranica Antiqua, Volume 54

The table of contents of the latest issue (54) of the journal Iranica Antiqua:

Canon of Ancient Iranian Art

Colburn, Henry. 2020. The canon of ancient Iranian art: From grand narratives to local perspectives. In Amy Gansell and Ann Shafer (eds.), Testing the canon of ancient Near Eastern art and archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The canon of ancient Iranian art coalesced during the heyday of archaeological research in Iran during the 1950s and 1960s. Scholars sought to reconcile both excavated material from a series of type sites and unexcavated objects, with a sequence of historical and cultural phases from Proto-Elamite to Sasanian. Consequently, the canon has some notable weaknesses. First, the term “Iranian” can refer to geography or people, either of which excludes important material. Second, the periodization of the canon relies on Mesopotamian and Mediterranean history, which is not always a good fit for Iran. Third, the use of style to assign material to these periods relies on the problematic assumption that multiple artistic styles cannot coexist at the same time and place. This chapter argues that it is useful to adopt an approach that focuses instead on individual sites or micro-regions, thus better reflecting the richness and diversity of ancient Iranian art.

Tappeh Sialk: The Glory of Ancient Kashan

Nokandeh, Jebrael, John Curtis & Marielle Pic (eds.). 2019. Tappeh Sialk: The Glory of Ancient Kashan. London: Iran Heritage Foundation.

Tappeh Sialk on the outskirts of modern Kashan is arguably the most important ancient site in Iran before the rise of the Persian Empire in 550 BCE. Excavations here in the 1930s by a French team and by Iranian teams from 2000 AD onwards have cast light on the history of Iran from 6000 BCE onwards, spanning the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age periods. These results have been so significant that Tappeh Sialk has become a ‘type-site’ for Iranian archaeology and has provided a chronological framework against which other sites in Iran can be measured.

In addition, the spectacular finds from two cemeteries at Sialk now grace museums in Tehran and Paris as well as in other parts of the world. In view of the special importance of Tappeh Sialk, two international conferences were held at Asia House in London in 2017 and 2018 with the intention of reviewing what is known about the site and how it may best be protected and promoted in the future. A selection of papers delivered at the first two conferences is published in this volume. This is the first volume in a series of IHF special studies.

View contents page here.

Journal of Near Eastern Studies

The first issue of volume 79 of Journal of Near Eastern Studies (JNES) is out. Several papers of this issue are related to Iran:

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.

Continue reading Ceramics and the Archaeological Achaemenid Horizon

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.