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Thread: Neolithic of Eastern Iran and links eastward

  1. #1
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    Neolithic of Eastern Iran and links eastward

    Eastern Iran has been comparatively neglected by archaeologists hoping to uncover the development of domestication of plants and animals. Only recently have there been some interesting publications, which hint at the route of farming from the Near East to Central and Central South Asia.

    A while ago I mentioned the book The Neolithisation of Iran (2013): . I finally found time to pick up a copy recently. For me a fascinating chapter was no. 18: Tell-e Atashi (Bam, Southeastern Iran) and the Neolithic of the Eastern Near East (Omran Garazhian and Maryam Shakooie). Happily it is now available free from

    Just take a look at the reconstructed architecture on p. 295. These people had invented the chimney! The authors make comparisons with the architecture of Mehrgarh I (Pakistan):

    Now comes an article in the latest issue of Antiquity: Kourosh Roustaei, Marjan Mashkour and Margareta Tengberg, Tappeh Sang-e Chakhmaq and the beginning of the Neolithic in north-east Iran:



    In sharp contrast to the Fertile Crescent, the eastern regions of the ancient Near East have to a large extent remained unexplored. East of the Zagros, the number of early Neolithic sites decreases substantially. In fact, in the vast area between Zagros and the Indus Valley only two early Neolithic sites have been identified, both dating to the seventh millennium BC: Sang-e Chakhmaq West Mound (Iran) and Mehrgarh (Pakistan). They lie some 1500km apart.....

    Tappeh Sang-e Chakhmaq lies on the plain of Bastam in the Alborz foothills, 8km north of the town of Shahroud and about 400km east of Tehran. The site comprises two adjacent mounds some 100m apart, the West Mound and the East Mound. Tappeh Sang-e Chakhmaq was discovered and extensively excavated during four seasons in the 1970s by a team led by the late Seiichi Masuda of Tokyo University.... The plans of the buildings remain almost the same throughout the occupational sequence. Houses were constructed from sun-dried mud bricks and pise (hard-packed earth or clay), some with finely plastered gypsum floors. The plaster-floored rooms were usually divided into three parts distinguished by different floor levels, and featured raised hearths and mud-brick platforms.... [In the later excavations by Roustaei and team] a horseshoe-shaped hearth was revealed [East Mound,].... Hearths of this type are well known from Jeitun culture sites in Turkmenistan...

    The West Mound was established in the late eighth millennium BC, probably as a permanent agro-pastoral village with well-built mud-brick structures furnished mostly with gypsum floors, a technique frequently used in the pre-pottery Neolithic B phase in the Levant. The inhabitants of the site practised wheat and barley cultivation and goat herding.Insufficient data prevents us being confident about whether domesticated sheep or cattle were part of their subsistence base. A few hundred years later, however, these livestock were firmly incorporated in the Neolithic subsistence pattern of the East Mound, as was free-threshing wheat...Agriculture was practised at Tappeh Sang-e Chakhmaq from the earliest phases and it is likely that the crop species (wheat and barley) were introduced in an already domesticated form from elsewhere.

    Having a secure and sequential series of 14C dates for both mounds of Tappeh Sange Chakhmaq now enables us to propose a solid framework for the earliest stages of the Neolithic way of life on the north-eastern Iranian Plateau, including Kopet Dagh.

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  3. #2
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    Very interesting. I have long thought that the fact Jeitun has earlier dates than the northern half of Iran east of the Zagros is odd. I read a lot into this a year or so ago and the belief then was that the northern Iranian plateau was challenging for farmers until they developed irrigation of alluvial fans and this delayed farming in this area long enough that farming and copper use almost arrived at the same time. This left the question of Jeitun and how it seemed to have dates significantly earlier. So now this gives a potential source for Jeitun with the latter perhaps simply a later extension when the wetter phase allowed expansion into Turkmenistan and adjacent. This still leaves the question of how they got to NE Iran. Recent surveys seem pretty hardline on much of the north Iran plateau being only settled on the cusp of the earliest copper age. The question is if this remains true or an illusion. If it remains true then some sort of route from the Zagros along the Caspian shore bypassing that area (apparently heavily wooded) to NE Iran or sort of route that led into NE Iran from the south seems to be the only ones left.

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