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The Iranian Plateau during the Bronze Age

Jan-Waalke Meyer
Emmanuelle Vila
Marjan Mashkour
et al.


Emmanuelle Vila, Marjan Mashkour, Michèle Casanova, Régis Vallet et Jan-Waalke Meyer

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1The concept for a symposium on the third millennium BCE of the Iranian Plateau was conceived of in 2013 as the result of discussions between members of four research units and institutions. These four groups, based in France and Germany, are all actively involved in research on the urbanisation and development of the first known towns in the Near and Middle East: UMR 5133 Archéorient in Lyon (French National Center for Scientific Research – CNRS/University of Lyon), UMR 7209 AASPE in Paris (CNRS/National Museum of Natural History), UMR 7041 ArScAn-VEPMO in Nanterre (CNRS Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University; Paris Nanterre University) and the Institute of Archäologie und Kulturgeschichte des Vorderen Orients in Frankfurt (Goethe University). These groups have each produced a considerable volume of work on Bronze Age societies and cultural interactions in southwest Asia, as well as demonstrating a commitment to the development of research in Iranian archaeology by training young Iranian researchers. Continuing a precedent set by previous collaborations, the symposium “Urbanisation, Trade, Subsistence and Production during the Third Millennium BC on the Iranian Plateau”, took place on April 29‑30, 2014 at the Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée in Lyon. The location chosen for the symposium was in recognition of scientific collaborations based in Lyon with Iranian archaeologists, and the on-going development of an affiliation, subsequently signed in 2015, between the University Lyon 2, the Ministry for Iranian Heritage – Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, and Tourism-RICHT. In addition, as part of these collaborations, the Chiraz archaeological mission of the MAEDI was resumed under the direction of a member of the Archéorient UMR, Lyon.

2The aim of the symposium was to bring together contributions from French and international specialists, and in particular Iranian researchers, from across a wide range of disciplines (archaeology, art history, iconography; in metal, stone, and ceramic objects; archaeozoology, and archaeobotany), including work by postgraduates and young researchers. This was to establish an overview of all research on the third millennium BCE of the Iranian plateau, a topic fascinating to so many disciplines due in part to the key role of the urbanisation process during this period in the Near and Middle East. This was the first symposium in France of this scale on the research of this period and region, and it brought together specialists from France, Iran, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and the United States. During the course of the meeting, in addition to the presentation of new discoveries and research, a discussion session also provided a platform to compare data, and share and discuss results, in order to explore the development of methodological approaches. The symposium also provided the opportunity to propose future perspectives, and lines of research and collaboration.

3The proceedings of the symposium presented here comprise of twenty contributions, including review papers and unpublished articles on studies of new archaeological sites from the Iranian plateau dating from the third millennium BC. Most of the articles are based on recent excavations, and on work carried out as a part of PhD dissertations at the Lumière Lyon 2 University, the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris 1 University and the Goethe University in Frankfurt.

4The articles are organized into the four main themes covered during the symposium: the overall context on the Iranian Plateau during the third millennium BC, the expansion of the Kuro-Araxes culture in Iran, the Elamite kingdom, and finally, the urbanisation, trade and subsistence economy in East Iran. These contributions shed new light on the urbanisation of this vast region by identifying the various influences exerted by cultures in Mesopotamia, southeast Iran and Central Asia. Questions on the features of the material culture are revisited, as are those on the various subsistence modes and chronological frameworks.

5This event could not have taken place without financial support from numerous French and German institutions and trustees, comprising the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development in France, the French Embassy in Teheran, the Rhone Alps Regional Council, the CNRS, the Lumière Lyon 2 University, the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle and the Goethe University in Frankfurt, to whom we extend our deepest thanks. We also wish to thank Labex IMU (Intelligence des Mondes Urbains), the Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée Jen Pouilloux, the Maison de l’Archéologie et de l’Ethnologie René Ginouvès, as well as the research units and institutions of the organizers: the Archéorient laboratory, the Archaeozoology, Archaeobotanical laboratory, the ArScAn-VEPMO laboratory, the Institute of Archäologie und Kulturgeschichte des Vorderen Orients and the ENKI association of the University of Frankfurt, which all contributed significantly to the funding of this event, enabling the hosting of both French and multi-national specialists. We would also like to express sincere thanks to the administrator of the Archéorient laboratory, Gwenaelle Pequay; to the members of Archéorient and the Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée, and to the Masters students in Archéologie et Histoire des Mondes anciens; all of whom participated in the organization, the reception of participants and the smooth running of the symposium. Finally, we wish to thank our colleagues for the reviews and constructive comments that they provided: Reinhard Bernbeck, Jean‑Paul Bravard, Corinne Castel, Barbara Helwing, Clarisse Herrenschmidt, Stephan Kroll, Pierre Lombard, Catherine Marro, Holly Pittman, Mitchell Rothman, Antonio Sagona (†) and Harvey Weiss.


Université Lumière Lyon 2, UMR 5133-Archéorient, Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée, 7 rue Raulin, 69007 Lyon

Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften, Goethe Universität, Norbert-Wollheim-Platz 1, Fach 146, 60629 Frankfurt am Main

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