Dig Sites

Aegean Islands
Iranian Plateau

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Iranian Plateau

Cheshmeh Ali . Chogha Mish . Tall-e Ghazir . Godin Tepe . Hasanlu Tepe . Tepe Hissar . Kaluraz . Tal-e Malyan . Nausharo . Persepolis . Vijayanagara . Tepe Yahya Collections

Cheshmeh Ali (Timothy Matney, Hassan Fazeli, Holly Pittman, & Christopher Thornton, 2006)

The Schmidt Expedition to Cheshmeh Ali, Iran, 1934-1936: Final Site Report

Cheshmeh Ali is a small Neolithic and Late Chalcolithic mound located in the suburbs of modern Tehran. The 7m high mound, 3.5 hectares in extent, sits adjacent to a small spring and abuts a rocky ridge at the edge of the Islamic city of Rayy. Intensive fieldwork was undertaken at prehistoric sites in the 1920s and 1930s across the Tehran, Qazvin and Kashan Plains of northern Iran by a number of scholars and their collective excavations documented a sequence of painted pottery traditions dating between 6200 and 3000 BC. Cheshmeh Ali was excavated by Erich Schmidt in 1934-1936 as a joint project between the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. This work proved Cheshmeh Ali to be one of the most important sites in the northern Iranian Neolithic/Chalcolithic sequence owing to the excellent preservation of architecture there and the rich material assemblage found by Schmidt.

Chogha Mish (Abbas Alizadeh, 2000)

Chogha Mish: A Prehistoric Regional Center in Lowland Susiana, SW Asia Project Summary: View Publication

The aim of this project is to fully present, analyze, and interpret a set of archaeological data that is relevant and essential to studies of the formation of complex societies. Chogha Mish is unique in southwest Asia in its long, uninterrupted archaeological sequence from the early Neolithic to the end of the Protoliterate period, spanning some 4000 years of occupation. Such a long, uninterrupted sequence of occupation provides invaluable data on the processes of the evolution of socio-economic complexity and formation of early states. The archaeological materials from Chogha Mish consist of handsome, elaborately decorated ceramics, evidence for metallurgy, clay sealings to control access to stored commodities, evidence for craft specialization, long-distance trade, irrigation agriculture and animal husbandry, and planned architecture. Surface surveys in the region also indicate that Chogha Mish was the regional center in a three-level settlement hierarchy system. Thus, the archaeological materials from Chogha Mish, now at the Oriental Institute, provide a rich source of evidence on the early stages of the genesis of the ancient Near Eastern civilization.

Tall-e Ghazir (Abbas Alizadeh, 2006)

Excavations at Tall-e Ghazir (1948 and 1949)

Tall-e Ghazir is located in the eastern frontier of lowland Susiana in the Ram Hormuz region, an area where both ethnically and archaeologically can be considered a buffer zone between the highland and lowland polities of the 5th and 4th millennia BC. At an elevation of about 250 m above sea level, the Ram Hormuz area is the next large fertile region southeast of Susa and contains sites of all major prehistoric and historical periods. The site is the largest population center in this pivotal region. It consists of two main complexes, each adjacent to a modern-day village. Excavations at the site revealed an uninterrupted sequence of archaeological materials ranging from the 5th to the middle of 3rd millennia BC, as well as an Old Elamite fortification . The archaeological materials from Ghazir, therefore, will be of great importance in addressing socio-economic relationships between the lowlands and highlands on the one hand and the development of proto-Elamite civilization on the other.

Godin Tepe (Hilary Gopnik & MITCHELL ROTHMAN, 2006)

On the High Road: The History of Godin Tepe, Iran: View Publication

On the High Road will provide the first major publication of the material remains from Godin, the artifacts from which have been exhibited or stored at the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Canada) since their excavation over thirty years ago. The material includes over ten thousand pottery sherds; about seven hundred unique stone, ceramic, bone, and metal objects; an important corpus of clay tablets and seals; and hundreds of samples of organic material and animal bone. The publication of this material will be an invaluable contribution to the understanding of the archaeology of Iran and will serve as a crucial reference for generations of future scholars.

Hasanlu Tepe (Michael D. Danti, 2006)

Hasanlu Tepe (Iran): The Early Iron Age Citadel

Hasanlu Tepe, located 37° 00' N and 45° 13' E, is the largest site in the Qadar River valley of northwestern Iran and dominates the small Sulduz plain. The tepe consists of a 25 m high central mound, 13 HA in area, surrounded by a low mound. The low mound rises 8 m above the surrounding plain and covers at least 23 HA, but modern villages and agricultural fields obscure its exact extent. The recent resumption of archaeological work in western Iran demands the immediate publication of the Iron Age levels, since they form the cornerstone for our understanding of the culture history of this important region. Moreover, Iron Age Hasanlu provides an incredible dataset for scholars interested in the study of broader issues such as early empires, secondary state formation, core-periphery relations, and urbanization.

Tepe Hissar (Ayse Gursan-Salzmann, 2002)

Final Publication of the Bronze Age Ceramic Sequence from Tepe Hissar, Iran

The aim of this project is to analyze, interpret and prepare for publication the Early Bronze Age ceramic assemblages from Tepe Hissar, to establish a new, clearly documented chronology for the site and the region. The archaeological evidence from two sets of unpublished ceramic assemblages forms the background for this study: Erich F. Schmidt's excavations in 1931-32, and excavations by Robert H. Dyson in 1976. Tepe Hissar, the largest known urban settlement in northeastern Iran, is located about 90 km. to the southeast of the Caspian Sea, near the modern city of Damghan, and west of Turkmenistan (fig. 1). For six decades the site has provided the primary archaeological record in the region, with its continuous habitation levels from the fifth to the second mill. BCE (4,5001900) Its strategic location along the major East-West trade route, between southern Mesopotamia, Iranian plateau and Central Asia, further heightens its presumed economic and political role in the region. The importation of lapis and turquoise implies connections with the east, and at the same time links with the west have been documented by blank clay tablets reminiscent of Proto-Elamite tablets, and a cylinder seal. Its importance, therefore, as a cornerstone of chronology, cannot be overemphasized.

Kaluraz (Ali Mousavi, 2008)

Excavation from the Iron Age Site of Kaluraz, Northern Iran

The aim of this project is to analyze, interpret and prepare the results from the excavations at Kaluraz, Iran, for publication. At a distance of about 60 km from the Sea, Kaluraz lies at an altitude of 360 m on a watercourse joining the Sefid Rud. The site was the object of two seasons of excavation between 1965 and 1967 by Ali Hakemi on behalf of the Iranian General Office of Archaeology. These excavations, as well as the many other finds revealed by clandestine diggings have shed light on the civilization of the Mardes. Most of the objects hitherto discovered in other areas of the Sefid-Rud valley and delta belong, in fact, to this civilization. The importance of Kaluraz lies in the discovery of a series of tombs, some of which contained bronze weapons, gold and silver vessels and other objects. The culture that flourished at Kaluraz and in the Sefid Rud region from around the end of the second millennium B.C. belongs to the beginning of the Iron Age period in Iran (c. 1350-1000 B.C.).

Tal-e Malyan (John Malden, 2008)

Tal-e Malyan Overview

Malyan has been securely identified as the ancient city of Anshan. With Susa, Anshan was one of the twin capitals of the Elamite civilization in southwestern Iran. During the 1970's the Malyan Project carried out extensive excavations in four areas of the site to investigate the three most important eras of the city's occupation — the Proto-Elamite (3200-2800 B.C.), Kaftari/Qaleh (2200-1300 B.C.) and Middle Elamite (1300-1000 B.C.) periods. Final reports on three of these four large excavations have been published; the project proposed here will complete the publication of the large-scale excavations at Malyan. The GHI excavation report will provide the first full publication of stratified Kaftari/Qaleh architecture and archaeological material from the Elamite capital of Anshan. It will clarify the ceramic chronology of this era and offer insight into the spatial and economic organization of the ancient city. More broadly, it will make a secure corpus of well-stratified and carefully excavated material relating to Elamite archaeology and history available to the scholarly community.

Nausharo (Jean-Francois Jarrige, 2010)

Excavations at Nausharo, a late Chalcolithic/Bronze Age site in Eastern Balochistan-Pakistan

Before the French Mission started working in Eastern Balochistan, the genesis and the internal development of the Indus Civilisation between 2500 and 1900 BC were still poorly understood. The excavations conducted by the Mission have brought to light for the first time in this region a continuous sequence of occupation from a so far unknown aceramic Neolithic phase (8th Millennium BC) till the period of the Indus Civilisation and its aftermaths. The first period of Nausharo (3000BC to 2500BC), with well-preserved architectural remains and a great wealth of finds, is in direct continuation with the long sequence, established at the nearby site of Mehrgarh by the French Mission from 1974 to 1985. Between 2600 BC and 2500 BC, the final phase of Period I at Nausharo shows clearly a transition announcing the beginning of the Indus Civilisation c. 2500 BC, well illustrated during Periods II and III at Nausharo. Period III at Nausharo, whose remains have been extensively exposed, has provided house blocks organised in a grid pattern on a smaller scale similar to the general plan of Mohenjo-daro, one of the major cities of the Indus Civilisation. Period IV (2100-1900 BC) at Nausharo has provided many data on the final period of the Indus Civilisation.

Persepolis (Sabrina Maras, 2008)

The archaeological site of Persepolis is located at the foot of the Kuh-e Rahmat (or "Mountain of Mercy") in the Marv Dasht plain in Fars province, southwestern Iran. Its exact coordinates are Latitude: 29° 56' 9 N, Longitude: 52° 53' 23 E. Persepolis was the capital city of the Achaemenid Persian empire under Darius the Great beginning in c. 522 BCE, until its collapse at the hands of Alexander the Great in c. 331 BCE. Persepolis was a center of royal power, a place of imperial ceremony, and the locus of regional administration. Its current extant remains — which include several ceremonial structures, such as the apadana of Darius, and palaces — still attest to the grandeur and importance of the site.

Vijayanagara (John Fritz, 2008)

Archaeological Atlas of Vijayanagara

The World Heritage Site of Vijayanagara, known locally as "Hampi," is located in central Karnataka State, in southern India. Founded in the middle of the 14th century by local Hindu chiefs, the city grew in wealth and size as the Vijayanagara Empire extended its sway over peninsular India. At its height in the early 16th century, the outer fortifications of the city enclosed 650 sq km., while the core of the city comprised 24 km sq. The city was sacked and abandoned in 1565, after its rulers were defeated by a consortium of Deccani Sultanates. The Vijayanagara site has proved important for understanding the organization of different urban activities in space and their relation to the evolution of royal power, to mythological associations of the landscape, and to underlying concepts of spatial order. The proposed Atlas will provide a fine grained understanding of activities across the site. It will also be useful to local agencies managing the heritage of the site, so that they can protect areas rich in archaeological resources.

Tepe Yahya Collections (Benjamin Mutin, 2009)

This site is located in the Soghun Valley in the South-Eastern Iranian province of Kerman. It was excavated under the direction of C.C. Lamberg-Karlovsky during the late 1960s and 1970s. The materials proposed to be studied include ceramics and associated small finds dating to the Period IVC of the site, which embraces the late 4th millennium and the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC (3100-2800 BC). At that time, the site was characterized by a large building in which Proto-Elamite materials associated with local tradition's materials were found. The levels dating to the Period IVC excavated at Tepe Yahya provided almost unique data because they gave evidence for an important Proto-Elamite occupation which doesn't have parallels farther to the east. Indeed, no building such as the one found on this site at this period was identified elsewhere in the eastern Iranian provinces. The Proto-Elamite materials found inside are associated with materials rooted in the previous local Period V and connected also with some of the cultures located eastward. Thus, the levels dating to the Period IVC at Tepe Yahya very likely represent the best archaeological context to understand the relation of the Proto-Elamite phenomenon to the local cultures and to the interactions sphere of the Eastern Iranian Plateau, and also to appraise the expansion of this phenomenon in this area in comparison with the Proto-Elamite occupations located in Western Iran, for example at Tal-i Malyan and Susa, a time just before the urban Indus Civilization to the east and the Old Elamite Civilization in Iran developed toward the middle of the 3rd millennium BC.

The Shelby White and Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications
Harvard University, The Semitic Museum. 6 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
Telephone: (617) 495-9317 | Fax: (617) 496-8904 | Email: whitelev@fas.harvard.edu