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The Iranian Plateau during the Bronze Age

 | 
Jan-Waalke Meyer
, 
Emmanuelle Vila
, 
Marjan Mashkour
, 
et al.

Expansion of the Kura-Araxes culture in Iran

Iran and the Kura-Araxes cultural tradition, so near and yet so far

Sepideh Maziar

Résumé

Au milieu du quatrième et troisième millénaire av. J.‑C., le sud du Caucase, l’Anatolie orientale et le nord‑ouest de l’Iran ont connu un développement culturel particulier caractérisé par une culture matérielle spécifique identifiée comme la tradition culturelle Kura‑Araxes. On a longtemps considéré que l’Iran était à cette période une zone périphérique en comparaison avec ses voisins du sud ou même du nord de la Mésopotamie. Ce concept de périphérie n’a guère suscité de recherches dans cette région ou bien il a engendré des études centrées sur la plaine et sa domination. Le cadre chronologique actuel s’appuie aussi sur des données archéologiques vieilles de plus de quatre décennies et, étonnamment, depuis, rien n’a été ajouté pour faire évoluer ou développer nos connaissances de cette période dans l’histoire du Moyen‑Orient et de l’Iran.
Dans cet article, en examinant les études réalisées dans le passé, j’aborde en partie ces lacunes. En outre, à partir des nouvelles données du sud de la vallée de l’Araxe et en les comparant avec les régions voisines, j’ai tenté d’apporter ma contribution à une meilleure compréhension des dynamiques culturelles et de la complexité sociale dans cette région durant cette période.

Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 Hole 1966, p. 605; Frangipane 2007; Frangipane 2010, p. 27‑35; Rothman 2001.
  • 2 For instance at Gawra XI. Algaze 1993; Rothman 2002a; Rothman 2002b; Frangipane 2000b, p. 228‑229; (...)
  • 3 Nissen 2001.
  • 4 With the possible exception of Arslantepe.
  • 5 Like at Gawra (Rothman 2002a; 2002b) and Arslantepe (Frangipane 1994; 2000a).
  • 6 Algaze 1993; Algaze 2012.

1The period between the Late Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from ca. 4300 to ca. 2400 BC, is a crucial era, as it is known as the formative period of complex societies. During this period, human societies developed from simple villages to economically and politically integrated cities that specialized in a variety of occupations1. Part of this era, from ca. 3400 to around 2400 BC, concurrent with the Late Uruk and Early Dynastic I‑III, Susa III or Proto-Elamite and Susa IV periods, saw huge changes in economics, politics, social life, and exchange systems. These changes initiated the first states with urbanization, economic specialization2 and political hierarchy3. This model is true for the lowlands and steppes of the Near East. However, it was not true for the highlands of the South Caucasus, northwestern Iran, and eastern Anatolia4. In this timespan, the societies of the lowlands were struggling to find solutions for their problems of increasing agglomeration of population, a lack of raw materials, controlling social, political, economic organization through a complicated administrative system and hierarchical social categorie5, productive specialization and standardization, or inter- and intra-regional trade networks with outposts in the neighboring resource extraction areas6. However, in the highlands, during the time when the Kura‑Araxes cultural tradition was in place, such a level of societal complexity did not evolve, even when encounters occurred with that other part of the world at sites such as Godin in Iran or Arslantepe in Central Anatolia.

 

  • 7 For a general review of Kura‑Araxes settlements see Sagona 1984; for southern Caucasus, see Smith  (...)

2We know that Kura‑Araxes migrants expanded over a vast area from the southern and eastern parts of the Caucasus, eastern Anatolia, Northwest and western Iran as far as the southern Levant7. What was the cultural and societal nature of Northwest Iran, before and after this startling expansion? And what were the characteristics of these disseminations in the lands of expansion? The dispersal area of Kura‑Araxes cultural tradition is so broad that one cannot address this issue thoroughly in such an article as this. I will rather focus on the Araxes Valley, especially the Iranian and immediately adjoining areas.

Fifth to the third millennia BC: Mesopotamianism phenomenon

3Around three decades ago, nobody had a comprehensive understanding of the fifth to the fourth millennium BC in the Near East. At that time, all roads led to Mesopotamia and the lowland scenario, whereas the mountainous regions to Mesopotamia’s north and east developed along a different trajectory.

  • 8 See Narimanov 1985; Akhundov 2007.
  • 9 Nebieridze and Tskvitinidze 2010.
  • 10 Many scholars also see this affiliation, for instance see Marro 2007; Akhundov 2007; Lyonnet 2007.
  • 11 Pitskhelauri 2012.
  • 12 Here only Late Chalcolithic settlements with Uruk related sherds are considered and a phenomenon s (...)
  • 13 See Lyonnet 2007, for a general overview see Marro 2010.
  • 14 Marro 2010.

4For many years only few sites of this area in the South Caucasus were excavated and published; however new data from excavations and surveys are filling in some gaps. They may indicate some kinds of connections with the Mesopotamian world. From several sites like Leyla Tepe and other related sites with the same materials such as Berikldeebi, Tekhut8, Tsopi, Shida Kartli9 a remnant of Uruk material has been reported10 and some scholars propose that Uruk migrants appeared in the Caucasus11. It is not clear, however, to what extent they were related to northern Mesopotamia12; for example, for many years Chaff Faced Wares were considered a designator of Mesopotamian affiliation13, which Marro later argues against14.

 

  • 15 In modern history this word has a different meaning, see for instance Davis 2005.
  • 16 See for instance Narimanov 1985; Henrickson 1985; Henrickson 1989. For the same discussion see Wee (...)
  • 17 Voigt and Dyson 1992; Petrie 2013.

5In Iran, as well, most of the known sites that were recognized or excavated in the 60s and 70s were labeled Ubaid or Uruk related cultures, or simply local cultures that form part of the periphery. “Mesopotamianism15” was very pervasive and everybody, especially in Iran or even southern Caucasus, tried to relate everything to Mesopotamia, perhaps to equip the findings with an importance equal to their Mesopotamian counterparts16. This concept leads to fewer investigations in this area or to studies with the focal point on the lowland and its domination. Rather, in the highlands we should have a completely different attitude, since nothing is the same: neither landscape nor policies, social and subsistence economy or cultural dynamics. All of these differences engender different basic requirements, which determine different strategies and mechanisms. On the other hand, in Iran only rarely have sites of this period been excavated or properly published17 so that they would provide any comprehensive conceptualization of this period.

  • 18 Binandeh 2011.
  • 19 Danti, Voigt and Dyson 2004; Summers 2013a; Wilkinson 2014, see also Palumbi this volume.
  • 20 Palumbi and Chataigner 2014.
  • 21 For a general overview of Northwest Iran and Mesopotamia in Early Bronze Age see Meyer 2001.

6In northwestern Iran, we have only rare signs of Uruk or any Mesopotamian contacts in terms of material objects of clearly Mesopotamian origin, and only some potsherds in the southern part of Urmia Lake, in the Zab River basin, have been reported18. Nevertheless, some scholars speak about the impact of the Uruk expansion and also its collapse as a result of Kura‑Araxes dispersal19 or the stimulation of their movements20. Without clear proof of interaction of Mesopotamian and Kura‑Araxes populations, a proof which is lacking in Northwest Iran and South Caucasus, we should be cautious about such causation 21.

7Perhaps, a better starting point is an examination of the local social and cultural mechanisms in the different regions. Once we better understand these people, who were utilizing symbols of Kura‑Araxes identity, and their societal organization, we can begin to discuss cross-cultural interactions.

Kura-Araxes cultural tradition in northwestern Iran; a closer look

  • 22 For instance Swiny 1975.

8In comparison to the other areas of Kura‑Araxes origin or dispersal, less attention has been paid to Iran. Our knowledge of this horizon in Iran is very ambiguous. That is in part because most of the excavations clustered around Urmia Lake and fieldwork and surveys were not equally distributed to cover the whole area (fig. 3). Besides, these surveys were mostly carried out in the past 50 years; that is, in the 1960s and 70s. Most of them covered a vast area22, making the results less accurate, and most of them were geography-oriented. We are hence confronted with a serious dearth of information about other parts. For instance, as is shown in figure 3, no systematic surveys have yet been carried out in many parts of Northwest Iran. This unequal distribution of data should be taken into account, since it could be a source of potential bias in the interpretation of settlement pattern or material culture dispersal.

 

  • 23 Roaf 1990, p. 80.
  • 24 Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014.

9This fact also lies at the bottom of more shortcomings in our understanding of the Kura‑Araxes tradition in Iran. For instance, in the map published by Roaf23, the eastern boundary of the Kura‑Araxes extension zone is limited to just ca. 100 km east of Yanik Tepe; other parts are not included and the eastern parts even left blank. So far, due to sites such as Yanik or Haftavan Tepe, it has been assumed that the Kura‑Araxes emergence in Iran did not occur earlier than ca. 3000 BC, which means the second phase of the Kura‑Araxes horizon, however, the series of new excavations and consequently new radiocarbon dating from Kul Tepe near Jolfa24, pushed this date back for 600 years, a fact which we shall address later (see tab. 1).

Table 1 – Chronological table of northwestern Iran.

Table 1 – Chronological table of northwestern Iran.

1. Khaksar, Hemati Azandaryanu and Nourozi 2015.
2. Not 2 sigma and calibrated, Voigt and Dyson 1992, p. 178.

  • 25 Burton Brown 1951.
  • 26 Burton Brown 1951, p. 52.
  • 27 Pecorella and Salvini 1984.
  • 28 Kleiss and Kroll 1979; Kleiss and Kroll 1992; Kroll 1984; Kroll 2005.
  • 29 Swiny 1975.
  • 30 Rothman 2011.
  • 31 Young 2004.
  • 32 Howell 1979.
  • 33 Motarjem and Niknami 2011.

10It was with the excavation of Geoy Tepe in 1948 that, for the first time, the Kura‑Araxes material culture was revealed from a systematic archaeological context25, although the excavator did not relate these materials to the Kura‑Araxes culture, which was not yet so familiar at the time; he just proposed some affinities with Khirbet Kerak and other findings from Georgia and eastern Anatolia26. It was Charles Burney, who added the term “ETC culture” to the cultural literature of northwestern Iran with his excavations at Yanik Tepe and later at Haftavan Tepe. Afterwards, the Gijlar Tepe excavation in 1978 evolved our understanding of this culture27. Furthermore, outstanding results of Wolfram Kleiss’ surveys28 added more parts to the distribution area puzzle of this culture. Swiny was another archaeologist who recognized some Kura‑Araxes sites in the southern part of Urmia Lake29, and then it was with the excavation of Godin Tepe that another village related to this culture was excavated to a considerable extent30. Young’s surveys revealed more Kura‑Araxes settlements in the Kangavar Plain31 and Howell elaborated this map by introducing some new sites in the Malayer Plain with Kura‑Araxes sherds32. Recent work in this western part of Iran has acknowledged more data about the distribution of Kura‑Araxes and has demonstrated that the interlude of this cultural tradition was even more complicated than had already been assumed33.

  • 34 Burton Brown 1981; Piller 2012, p. 445‑446.
  • 35 Fazeli and Abbasnegad 2005, p. 22‑23; Fazeli, Valipour and Azizi Kharanaghi 2013, p. 122.
  • 36 Piller 2012, p. 453.
  • 37 Abedi, Eskandari et al. 2014.
  • 38 Fahimi 2005.
  • 39 I have discussed this issue in my PhD dissertation that will be published later.
  • 40 Rothman 2003.

11Burton Brown had also excavated Kura‑Araxes layers in Kara Tape and Barlekin in Shahriyar in the Karaj province near Tehran, which presented for the first time the wider dispersal of this tradition as far as Central Iran34. Later with the launch of new archaeological projects in the Qazvin and nearby plains, more sites with Kura‑Araxes potsherds in the Qazvin Plain, and one other at Shizar in the Abhar Plain were introduced (fig. 1)35. Besides, revisiting the past materials from Kleiss’ survey in Shahriyar near Tehran revealed some other sites with the same sherds36. The new survey and excavation results in the Markazi province, in the southwestern part of Arak37, demonstrate that the distribution area of this tradition is more widespread. The Kura‑Araxes diaspora expanded as far as northern Iran38, where it had, presumably, a different social and cultural mechanism39 (fig. 1: sites 31 and 32). Such a vast area of dispersal (fig. 2), which comprises different landscapes and cultural entities, requires us to refute the consideration of distribution of this phenomenon as a simple dispersal of some groups along the roads on their ways, rather we should conceptualize the distribution – as Rothman suggests40 – as ripples in the stream, rather than a coherent single wave of migration.

  • 41 Summers 1982, p. 128.
  • 42 For the review of these scenarios see Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018.
  • 43 Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014; Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018.
  • 44 Badalyan, Avetisyan and Smith 2009.

12Generally, Burney and accordingly Summers divided this period into three phases namely ETC I, ETC II, and ETC III41. Synchronization and the comparison of internal changes in the other Kura‑Araxes settlements is hampered by dearth of related evidence from other excavated sites, and actually the lack of sites excavated in the same scale as Yanik Tepe. Despite this deficiency, based on the excavated sites up until now, this tradition appeared on the Northwest and western Iran around 2900 BC (Kura‑Araxes II period). Kul Tepe near Jolfa as an exception includes the earlier phase which dated back to ca. 3500 BC (KA I). The end of the Kura‑Araxes tradition is still an enigma. There are different scenarios and dating site to site42. However, due to recently published C14 dating43, this final phase can be fitted to ca. 2400 cal BC. In this regard, unlike the proposed chronology for Armenia44, the periodization of the Kura‑Araxes tradition in Iran includes three temporal phases. Phase I extends from 3600-3500 to 2900 BC, Phase II from 2900 to 2700-2600 BC, and Phase III ranges from 2700-2600 to 2400 BC (tab. 3).

  • 45 Summers 1982, p. 7; Summers 2013b; Summers 2014.
  • 46 Summers 2014, p. 158.
  • 47 Alizadeh 2007; Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018, p. 469.
  • 48 See Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014.
  • 49 Thanks to Mitchell Rothman for pointing to this correlation.
  • 50 Summers 2013b, p. 180.

13Based on Yanik Tepe and Haftavan material culture, the difference between ETC II and ETC III is more based on minor changes in pottery but major changes in the form of architecture from circular in Phase II to “agglomerative rectangular” in Phase III45, which could even be a sign of hiatus between the two periods46. This tripartite division is the case also in other excavated settlements such as Nadir Tepesi in the Moghan Steppe47 or Kul Tepe near Jolfa48. However, due to recently published C14 dating, there is a post-Kura-Araxes phase in the mentioned sites that can be fitted to ca. 2200‑1800 cal BC, which is later than the final phase of Kura-Araxes and is actually more comparable with Godin III: 649. Regardless of changes in the architecture, as Summers said50, this set of chronology is not useful anymore, and based on new excavations and datings a new chronological framework should be drawn.

 

  • 51 Burney and Lang 1971, p. 7.
  • 52 Rothman 2011, p. 191‑192.
  • 53 See also Summers 2014.
  • 54 Although we should not forget the probable trade of perishable materials.

14Different reasons have been demonstrated as possible stimuli of Kura‑Araxes expansion into Iran. Some scholars regard the geographical position of the Urmia Basin as a pass between the Caspian Sea and Turkey, that people from the Caucasus could not avoid crossing51. Rothman considers expanding of exchange networks and controlling parts of the trading networks of high roads as pull factors for the migration of Kura‑Araxes groups into western Iran and especially Godin Tepe52. Then this question comes to mind: if that was the main criterion for the migration, why have we not yet found some evidence of trade and administrative activities or exchange items at Kura‑Araxes settlements inside Iran? Perhaps this idea could be valid for Godin VI: 1, but would not apply to any other Kura‑Araxes settlement in Iran53. Except obsidian, there is rarely any evidence of exchange, either in the form of idea and technology or in the form of objects54. However, we still require more solid and amplified data in this part.

Fig. 1 – Map of Northwest Iran, showing the location of Kura‑Araxes settlements and other sites mentioned in the text.

Fig. 1 – Map of Northwest Iran, showing the location of Kura‑Araxes settlements and other sites mentioned in the text.

1. Nadir Tepesi; 2. Kohne Pasgah Tepesi; 3. Kohne Tepesi; 4. Kul Tepe near Jolfa; 5. Kultepe I; 6. Kultepe II; 7. Maxta; 8. Ovcular Tepesi; 9. Sos hoyuk; 10. Leila Tepe; 11. Areni I; 12. NASP 16; 13. Surtepe; 14. Xalaç; 15. Arabyenigaah; 16. Ravaz; 17. Baruj; 18. Yanik Tape; 19. Haftvan Tape; 20. Gijlar; 21. Geoy Tape; 22. Hasanlu; 23. Pisa; 24. Godin; 25. Gurab; 26. Qoli Darvish; 27. Balekin; 28. Duranabad; 29. Shizar; 30. Ismailabad; 31. Kelar; 32. Diarjan; 33. Toragaytepe; 34. Baba Darvish; 35. Tsopi; 36. Berikldeebi; 37. Arslantepe.

Fig. 2 – Expansion area of Kura‑Araxes culture inside Iran.

Fig. 2 – Expansion area of Kura‑Araxes culture inside Iran.

Fig. 3 – Distribution of archaeological fieldwork in northwestern Iran (based on publications).

Fig. 3 – Distribution of archaeological fieldwork in northwestern Iran (based on publications).

Geographical and cultural context of this study

  • 55 Alizadeh and Ur carried out a survey in the Moghan Steppe but have not yet published thoroughly th (...)

15Tracking more precisely the characteristics and cultural changes of the fourth and third millennia BC, this study concentrates on a limited area (fig. 4). The boundaries of the studied area are to the north, the Araxes River, to the south, the Kiamaki and Qare Dagh Mountains, to the east, the Qare Su River and to the west, Jolfa. The definition of this area is based on our current information; unfortunately, there is no data from the eastern and western parts55.

16Geographically and morphologically, the Araxes River flows through three different landscapes; the highlands of Turkey, a transitional region, and finally the lowland in its easternmost part. At first glance the varied landscape of the Araxes Valley is striking. It is more mountainous in the western and central parts, where the Araxes River flows in a narrow corridor, and just in some parts like Jolfa does it get wider; in its eastern parts it shapes wide fertile plains such as Khoda Afarin and the Moghan Steppe.

  • 56 For instance see Sagona 2002. I address partly this issue somewhere else (see Maziar in press).
  • 57 Sagona and Sagona 2000.
  • 58 Ristvet, Baxseliyev and Aşurov 2011, p. 14.
  • 59 Ristvet, Baxseliyev and Aşurov 2011, p. 15.
  • 60 Marro, Bakhshaliyev and Berthon 2014.
  • 61 Marro, Bakhshaliyev and Ashurov 2009; Marro, Bakhshaliyev and Ashurov 2011.
  • 62 Abibullaev 1982.
  • 63 Ristvet, Baxşaliev and Aşurov 2011.
  • 64 Ristvet, Baxseliyev and Aşurov 2011, p. 11.
  • 65 Ristvet, Baxseliyev and Aşurov 2011, p. 17.

17We do not know the exact role of the Araxes River as a corridor of interaction in the dispersal of the Kura‑Araxes culture, and so far, there have been no attempts at synthetic investigations that would cover all parts of this corridor56. In the western part, Sagona studied Sos Höyük, which is located on one of the Araxes River tributaries57. Towards the east, Maxta I and Ovçular Tepesi are two other well‑stratified sites. The former is a small Early Bronze Age settlement of around 0.78 ha, situated 3 km away from the Araxes River at an elevation of 830 m above sea level58. It was revisited in 2006 and yielded fresh carbon reading that dated the site to 3335‑2919 cal BC, considered the EB II period59. Around 9 km away there lies Ovçular Tepesi, which changes some of the previous perceptions of the genesis of the Kura‑Araxes cultural tradition60. The main published information of this site is related to the Late Chalcolithic period, since most of the Early Bronze Age has been removed from the top of the site during Soviet times, and there is not yet considerable published evidence of this phase61. Along the river, around 45 km away, Kültepe I and II are the other well‑known sites of this period. Kültepe I was excavated between 1955 and 196462 and later its excavation was resumed in 2011 by a French-Azarbaijani team directed by V. Bakhshaliyev and C. Marro. Kültepe II, however, at first excavated by Veli Aliyev in the 80’s and revisited and excavated again recently63. Kültepe I has Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age levels and the nearby site of Kültepe II was occupied during the Early and Middle Bronze Age64. They are situated at 965 m above sea level between the Nakhichevan Çay and the Cahri Çay. The archaeobotanical results demonstrate that the Kura‑Araxes settlements used more “specialized agricultural subsistence strategy” in comparison to Late Chalcolithic settlements65.

  • 66 Courcier, Lyonnet and Guliyev 2012.
  • 67 Ristvet, Baxşaliev and Aşurov 2011, p. 19.
  • 68 Ristvet, Baxseliyev and Aşurov 2011, p. 13, table 1.
  • 69 Based on Parker et al. 2011, p. 192‑194.
  • 70 Bakhshaliyev 2006.
  • 71 In the mentioned article they were termed Eneolithic sites (Ristvet, Baxşaliev and Aşurov 2011, p. (...)
  • 72 Ristvet, Baxseliyev and Aşurov 2011, p. 7.

18At Kültepe II, a potter’s kiln and a fragment of an ingot mold demonstrate a domestic production area66. This craft production and specialization “did not appear under the aegis of an elite institution, rather ceramic and metal production occurred at the household level”67. The earliest Kura‑Araxes levels dated to the mid‑late fourth millennium BC around 3360‑3013 2 sigma calibrated68. Despite sites as Kültepe I and II and Maxta I, it seems that the confluence area of Arpaçay-Araxes was not settled intensely during the Early Bronze Age as only two kurgans, five settlements and one site near a stone quarry have been recognized (fig. 1: sites 12‑1569). Veli Bakhshaliyev surveyed parts of Nakhichevan70, and later a team from Pennsylvania University joined the group to survey systematically the Şerur Rayon. During their survey, they recognized only three Chalcolithic sites71 namely Ovçular, Xalaç, and Derelyez. This range of sites expanded during the Kura‑Araxes period to include a cemetery and seven settlements72.

  • 73 Bakhshaliyev and Novruzov 2010; Narimanov 2007.
  • 74 Narimanov 2007; Akhundov 2011; Helwing 2012.

19From the rest of the northern part of the Araxes River, we have no reliable information. There are more Late Chalcolithic and Kura‑Araxes settlements; however, we do not yet have systematic thorough information about them but know them just through some regional surveys73. Due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict part of this area is inaccessible. The next spot, which yielded some scattered information, is in the eastern part of the Karabakh and Moghan regions74. Unfortunately, most of the attested data of these regions are only basic and preliminary and there is no detailed evidence of their material culture.

  • 75 Alizadeh and Ur 2007.
  • 76 On the Iranian side.
  • 77 Kroll 1984.
  • 78 Maziar 2010.
  • 79 Maziar 2015.

20As becomes clear from this overview, there exists only a rough dataset from the northern part and there is still much to do. The situation in the southern part is not better. The only systematic survey was limited to the Moghan Plain, of which just a little is published75. Furthermore, Nadir Tepesi is another Kura‑Araxes site, that was surveyed and excavated and stands as the only excavated Kura‑Araxes site in the Moghan Plain76. Some parts of this area were also the subject of random visits77. In this regard, after the rescue project of the Khoda Afarin Plain78, as a second step a systematic survey was carried out under the “Archaeological Project of the Araxes Valley (APAV)” along the river, from the Khoda Afarin to the Jolfa Plain; a distance of 110 km, the results of which are still being processed79.

21Thanks to infrastructure and dam projects and recent archaeological fieldwork in this area, we know four excavated settlements from this period (tab. 2), namely Nadir Tepesi, Kohne Pasgah Tepesi, Kohne Tepesi, and Kul Tepe near Jolfa. The following part will address these sites rigorously in order to add new evidence from this so far little known area.

Fig. 4 – Location of settlements along the Araxes Valley and the studied area (dashed line).

Fig. 4 – Location of settlements along the Araxes Valley and the studied area (dashed line).

Fig. 5 – Nadir Tepesi.

Fig. 5 – Nadir Tepesi.

Table 2 – Settlement attributes of the studied sites along the Araxes Valley.

Table 2 – Settlement attributes of the studied sites along the Araxes Valley.

Table 3 – Simplified correlation among excavated Kura‑Araxes sites in Northwest and western Iran (After Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014; Summers 2013a-b; Summers 2014; Rothman 2011; Burton Brown 1951; Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018; Maziar 2010; Zalaghi et al. forthcoming).

Table 3 – Simplified correlation among excavated Kura‑Araxes sites in Northwest and western Iran (After Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014; Summers 2013a-b; Summers 2014; Rothman 2011; Burton Brown 1951; Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018; Maziar 2010; Zalaghi et al. forthcoming).

a) The conclusion of gathered scholars in Toronto was that there were only two Kura-Araxes periods, KA I (3500‑3000 BC) and KA II (2900‑2500 BC), and that after about 2500‑2450 BC the Kura‑Araxes cultural tradition is no longer in existence. These scholars argued, that in the South Caucasus the black pottery tradition continued, but the other elements of the Kura‑Araxes had disappeared in favor of a mobile lifestyle (I am most grateful to M. Rothman for sharing this information, and for our long fruitful discussion about the phasing of the Kura‑Araxes cultural tradition). However, multiple other sites, such as Yanik, Nadir Tepesi, Kul Tepe Hadishahr, or Kohne Shahr, demonstrate a transformation, which is considered by their excavators as KA III period.
b) There is different dating for the end of the KA III period; most sites ended around 2500 and some other around 2200, based on C14 dating that should be verified with more samples. The proposed date should be considered as a date range of this period and for instance 2200 is not the terminus ante quem for all sites.
c) I am grateful to K. Alizadeh for answering my questions regarding the chronology of Nadir Tepesi and Kohne Shahr, and A. Abedi for the dating of the Kura‑Araxes phases at Kul Tepe Hadishahr.
d) At Godin Tepe III: 6 a small percentage of black and grey pottery continued, but it disappeared by 2500 BC (I am grateful to M. Rothman for this information).
* It should be noted that the final reports of these excavations are not published yet, and considering the KA III phase in all of them is only based on the excavator’s statement. None of them have published the KA III material culture. Therefore, this table should be considered only as a current state of our knowledge regarding the Kura‑Araxes phasing in Iran based on current excavated sites, and should be verified based on more systematic excavations and the final reports of all these excavations.
** The available C14 dating of these sites propose a later date for the end of the Kura‑Araxes phase. More C14 is required to verify this date for the end of the phase at these sites.

Nadir Tepesi

  • 80 Mohammadi 2011.
  • 81 Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018.
  • 82 Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018, p. 467.

22This site is located near the Qare Su River (fig. 5) a tributary of the Araxes River, and just ca. 500 m away from this river in the northwestern part of the Aslanduz (fig. 4: site 1). Rohollah Mohammadi did a Systematic Random Sampling on this site80 and later in 2006 it was excavated by Karim Alizadeh81. The site is located at 187 m above sea level and covers around 5 ha82.

  • 83 Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018, p. 470.
  • 84 Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018, p. 470.

23The Tepe contains around 6 m of Kura‑Araxes culture deposits. Two main phases of Kura-Araxes were recognized (KA II, III) with the circular mudbrick building followed by rectangular building in the last phases83. The end of the Kura‑Araxes period is demonstrated with a 2.5 m burned deposit and a sharp change of the material culture84.

  • 85 Lame’ie et al. 2006.
  • 86 Ghorabi et al. 2008.

24The analysis of obsidian from this site shows that it does not originate from the Caucasus or Anatolia85. The possible existence of an obsidian source inside Iran has already been suggested by the obsidian analyses of other areas in Northwest Iran86.

Kohne Pasgah Tepesi

2557 kilometers away from this site, two other Kura‑Araxes settlements were excavated in the Khoda Afarin Plain (fig. 6: sites 2 and 3). Both are located on the alluvial terraces, 300 m above sea level, and around one kilometer away from the Araxes River and Kaleibar Chay. Kohne Pasgah (fig. 7) and Kohne Tepesi are just 100 m away from each other, two small neighbors of around half a hectare each, in this period. However, at the end of Kura‑Araxes II Kohne Pasgah is abandoned while life continued at Kohne Tepesi.

26At Kohne Pasgah, around three meters of deposit of this period have been recognized. The Kura‑Araxes layers superimpose the Chalcolithic phase without any obvious gap. The earliest occupation in the Bronze Age (Phase II of Kohne Pasgah Tepesi) consists of 12 layers of green, grey and brown refuse including straw, reed, mud brick debris, ash, bones, obsidian debris and tools, and pottery sherds, which dated, very likely, to the first phases of Kura‑Araxes, although no carbon reading is available and the dating is only based on the comparative study of pottery sherds and their depositional sequence. Of this phase, no structure was found and there is no other clue to help us to interpret this debris. Reed and clay with straws should have been related to architectural structures, none of which is recognizable in the excavated area, which probably suggests that either this part of the site was on the periphery of the residential area or that the site was just occupied temporarily or seasonally.

27Phase III has the thickest deposits (around 71 cm). Based on formation process and stratigraphy, four sub‑phases have been documented. These four sub‑phases are recognizable only on the basis of depositional stratigraphy, and there are no clear changes in pottery tradition that can be observed within the pottery of these sub‑phases.

28The prominent discovery of this phase is circular mud brick architecture. It was built directly on top of the Phase II remains without any foundation. Besides two Manqál, on top of each other, the remains of a thatch roof were recognized. The whole excavated architectural remains were composed of one circular space, half of which was excavated, and a wall of a related structure. The materials retrieved inside were not rich enough to help us interpret their function. In any case, they belonged to a household. It seems that the circular structure was subject to conflagration, which left a thick layer of charcoaled timber, burned wood and ashes inside the mentioned areas. The upper part of this phase is disturbed due to later activities in the Iron Age. After this phase, the site is abandoned and resettled in the Iron Age. Two samples of radiocarbon dating place this phase with the Kura‑Araxes II period, dating to 2800‑2600 BC.

  • 87 Marjan Mashkour and Fatemeh Azedeh Mohaseb have studied this assemblage, to whom I am so grateful.
  • 88 See Decaix, Mohased et al. this volume.

29The study of faunal remains shows that hunting was not an important activity at Kohne Pasgah Tepesi87. Most of the bones come from domestic animals and traces of human activities such as burning and cut marks can be observed on many of them, which could be representative of consumption activities in the site. Bone was also used as raw material for making tools or other artifacts. The subsistence economy of this site is mostly based on the exploitation of Caprines (64%), and especially Ovis. However, the important role of Bovines (25%), which constitutes more than 50% of the weight of faunal remains, should not be disregarded88.

  • 89 See Decaix, Mohased et al. this volume.

30The study of archaeobotanical remains shows no significant variation from the environment or agricultural practices during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages. The trees belonging to riparian species were the best represented, a fact, which could demonstrate that this area in the Chalcolithic period was as good a pasture as today and that, during both periods, this area had a high density of trees. The results of charcoal and seed studies demonstrate that harvest related activities (threshing, sifting, riddling) and probably the cultivation took also place at the site. Besides, cereals (wheat and barley) and fruit form part of a Kohne Pasgah resident’s diet and it seems that they had diverse sources of food89.

Fig. 6 – The location of Kohne Pasgah Tepesi and Kohne Tepesi and their distance to the Araxes River.

Fig. 6 – The location of Kohne Pasgah Tepesi and Kohne Tepesi and their distance to the Araxes River.

Fig. 7 – Kohne Pasgah Tepesi.

Fig. 7 – Kohne Pasgah Tepesi.

Kohne Tepesi

  • 90 For the rescue project, see Maziar 2010.

31Kohne Tepesi (fig. 8) is located just 100 m away from Kohne Pasgah Tepesi (fig. 7). Ali Zalaghi, Bayram Aghlari in the first season in 2006 and Ali Zalaghi and myself excavated it in 2007 as part of a dam rescue project90. As has been mentioned above, this site was probably occupied in part simultaneously with Kohne Pasgah, but endured longer; six meters of deposit illustrate this longevity.

  • 91 However, remains of such activity, such as deformed pottery sherds or slags, have not been found a (...)
  • 92 See Decaix, Mohased et al. this volume.

32The earliest phase is represented by dense, long‑lived occupation remains comprised of layers of refuse. No structure or architecture was found in the excavated area, but two meters of green and ash accumulation. The next phases are composed of different architectural phases with stone foundation and mud brick debris. Based on pottery and comparative chronology all these sub‑phases could be related to Kura‑Araxes II and III. Of interest are the remains of a kiln and also two chamber tombs accompanied by faunal burials and some ceramics as offerings. These remains demonstrate a kind of domestic production91 in this site, and are also representative of burial customs with considerable burial offerings, which is demonstrated for the first time of this phase of the Kura‑Araxes culture in Northwest Iran. The results of floral remains are still pending. The faunal remains demonstrate that, like at Kohne Pasgah Tepesi, Caprines are dominant (63%), however the contribution of Bovines is also considerable (21%), and it forms again 46.3% of the weight of faunal remains92. The remains of hunted animals, birds, and fish demonstrate the biodiversity of this area in this period and the diversity of food diet among Kura‑Araxes societies.

Fig. 8 – Kohne Tepesi.

Fig. 8 – Kohne Tepesi.

Kul Tepe near Jolfa

  • 93 Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014.
  • 94 Alizadeh 2007.
  • 95 In the published article of Kul Tepe both Phases II and III come in one part and it is not clear w (...)
  • 96 Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014.

33Kul Tepe is located near the city of Jolfa (in Alamdar - Gargar), covers about 4‑6 ha (fig. 9) and, in comparison to other sites, is with around 968 m above sea level situated at a higher elevation. It was excavated in 2010 by Hamid Khatib Shahidi and Akbar Abedi. At Kul Tepe, like at Kohne Pasgah, the Kura‑Araxes layers superimpose the Chalcolithic phase without any recognizable gap and, based on carbon readings, the site covers all phases of the Kura‑Araxes horizon from 3500 onwards93. The Kura‑Araxes horizon is represented by 11.5 meters of deposit showing that this site was a key spot for around one millennium of its occupation. Unlike Nadir Tepesi, both the Kura‑Araxes I and II phases are represented by circular structures, and it seems likely that in Kura‑Araxes III, like at Nadir Tepesi94, the rectangular architecture replaced the circular form95. The end of the Kura‑Araxes period was not abruptly or with violence in this site and even some evidence of transition and coexistence is attested96.

 

  • 97 Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014, p. 45.
  • 98 Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014, p. 58.

34Some evidence of metallurgy and craft production was found at the site. It is composed of a metal furnace from the Late Chalcolithic phase (Phase VI B), and remains of a mould from Kura‑Araxes II. Part of a pottery kiln was found from the Kura‑Araxes I phase97. Obsidian analysis shows eight different sources98, which demonstrate an expansive network between Kul Tepe and other sites.

Fig. 9 – Kul Tepe near Jolfa.

Fig. 9 – Kul Tepe near Jolfa.

Kura-Araxes cultural tradition in the Araxes Valley

  • 99 Marro, Bakhshaliyev and Ashurov 2009 ; Marro, Bakhshaliyev and Ashurov 2011; Ristvet, Baxşaliev an (...)
  • 100 Ristvet, Baxşaliev and Aşurov 2011, p. 6; Alizadeh and Ur 2007.

35Unfortunately, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict prevented the scholars from doing systematic surveys or excavations in this part so that our information of the region north of the Araxes River is still vague. During the last decades and in recent years some projects in Nakhichevan have shed more light on the earlier periods in this area99. However, the study of CORONA Satellite imagery dating to the 1960s, has shown, just in the Nakhichevan area, substantial damaging and levelling of the sites due to agricultural activities or infrastructure projects such as the Araxes River dam or the Arpaçay and Moghan dam100 so that the chances to retrieve the genuine cultural landscape have diminished.

36The presented data demonstrate that in the southern parts of the Araxes River area, most of the settlements are located on the alluvial fans, while in the eastern part they were concentrated more on the lower terraces around 200-300 m above sea level, with the exception of Kul Tepe near Jolfa in the western part, which is located at around 936 m above sea level. Evidently, the settlers did not choose areas with the same characteristics but landscapes with different geomorphological and vegetational criteria and ecosystems that require different habitus. Settling areas of such highly deviating elevations could either demonstrate the flexibility of economic, social, and cultural mechanisms or the “cultural and social variability” of Kura‑Araxes communities.

  • 101 Piro 2009.

37We do not yet know much about the internal relations and interactions among these societies. Generally, all of the settlements are small and, due to faunal and floral remains studies, could have been sedentary villages ranging between 0.5 and 4 ha. They had a very simple form of architecture, mostly wattle and daub, no public building, no administration, no sign of downright metallurgy, or hint at elite or hierarchy is recognized. All these settlements, except Kohne Tepesi, are excavated in a limited area, and could not provide any evidence about household and social characteristics of these societies. Due to the preliminary studies of floral and faunal remains, it seems that we are confronted with agro‑pastoral groups, which is comparable to the results of faunal studies in other areas101.

  • 102 For a general overview see Maziar and Glascock 2017.
  • 103 Ghorabi et al. 2010, p. 19; Blackman et al. 1998; Maziar and Glascock 2017.
  • 104 Blackman et al. 1998.

38Results of the provenance of obsidian samples from different settlements in northwestern Iran, from the Neolithic period to the Kura‑Araxes phase and later, demonstrate a vast system of obsidian exchange networks during different periods102. The main source, though, seems to be Syunik-Gegham103. The sources in Turkey, mostly around the Van, were another important spot in this expansive network104. It seems that these groups were engaged in obsidian networks, although except obsidian, no traces of other exchange materials have been recognized. This could promote some hypotheses; either they were only engaged in a limited trade and exchange of obsidian with their neighbors, and obsidian was the only item that they demanded, or the exchanged materials were perishable goods. However, these inferences are based on present excavated data and other scenarios could still emerge with material from the new excavations.

  • 105 Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014, p. 39‑40.

39Studying the pottery, we could see that unlike in areas around the Urmia Lake, the pervasive pottery traditions in the Araxes Valley, and especially its southern parts, are Chaff‑faced and Sioni traditions in the first half of the fourth millennium BC. However, at Kul Tepe near Jolfa, Pisdeli painted potteries were also reported105. It is not clear whether Sioni or Chaff‑Faced traditions are at home in the southern part of the Araxes Valley or whether they just form part of general Late Chalcolithic assemblages, since on the one hand we do not have all typical forms such as serrated rims or related architecture, and on the other hand the only attested assemblage in Late Chalcolithic of the southern part of the Araxes Valley consists of these Sioni with Chaff Faced Wares (except Pisdeli tradition at Kul Tepe near Jolfa), which would strengthen the hypothesis that these two traditions are at home there. The scanty number of related excavated sites of this period and the dearth of information still leave a conundrum. Afterwards, all of these sites became part of the Kura‑Araxes cultural tradition territory.

  • 106 Kiguradze and Sagona 2003, p. 48.
  • 107 Sagona 2000.

40When we assemble the data from some of the excavated settlements along the Araxes River (see tab. 2), some preliminary inferences can be drawn. As has already been mentioned, in the middle of the fourth millennium, most of the previous Late Chalcolithic sites were abandoned, and only three of them; Kohne Pasgah, Kul Tepe near Jolfa and Ovçular Tepesi, were resettled in the middle or last part of the fourth millennium BC. No other local culture has been recognized in this area, and all we know is the remains of Kura‑Araxes settlements. Only three of the nine mentioned sites extend over both periods and show a degree of continuity (sites 2, 4 and 8). However, at Sos Höyük some Sioni potsherds were found in the Late Chalcolithic phase106, which makes it as one of the latest occurrences of this tradition. As Sagona mentioned, at Sos Höyük the sherds belong to Phase V A, which dates between 3500-3300 and 3000 BC107, whereas in the Khoda Afarin Plain, for instance, they date to ca. 3900‑3700 cal BC. The six other sites are situated either on virgin soil or have been established after a gap (like site 5).

  • 108 Marro 2011; Marro, Bakhshaliyev and Berthon 2014.
  • 109 Kiguradze and Sagona 2003.
  • 110 Marro 2011, p. 295.

41The find of Kura‑Araxes potsherds in a sealed Late Chalcolithic context besides other groups in Areni I makes the analysis of this phenomenon and especially its genesis more complex. Based on recent data108, it seems that this phenomenon is not, as already supposed109, a development and an evolution of the Late Chalcolithic culture, but both of them were contemporary with each other, have their own trajectories, different technologies in pottery production and craft specialization, at least in the middle of the Araxes Basin110.

  • 111 Marro 2011, p. 300.
  • 112 Palumbi 2011.
  • 113 Lyonnet 2000.
  • 114 Kohl 2009, p. 246‑247.
  • 115 Danti, Voigt and Dyson 2004.

42Putting the fourth millennium BC in a broader context, the transition from the Late Chalcolithic to the Early Bronze Age has different trajectories in the Near East. Given sites such as Arslantepe, Norşuntepe, and other sites in the Upper Euphrates, there was a “cultural breakdown at the end of the fourth millennium”111, whereas northeastern and eastern Anatolia experienced parallel developments in harmony with South Caucasus112. In the southern Caucasus, we are confronted with a kind of multiculturality, characterized at least by the Maikop culture, which developed sooner in the beginning of the fourth millennium BCE113, Kurgan traditions and Kura‑Araxes groups, who partly migrated to southern (northwestern Iran) or western (eastern Anatolia) and eastern areas (Daghestan114). northwestern Iran is also made up of different cultural zones, which were partly settled or resettled by Kura‑Araxes groups, partly abandoned their settlements and some areas with their own local cultures namely the southern part of Urmia Lake that is well known by its Painted Orange ware around the end of KA II phase115.

Final remark

43In the last phases of the Chalcolithic period, we are confronted with changes in the cultural atmosphere of northwestern Iran. Many Late Chalcolithic sites were abandoned, or some of them were superimposed by new traditions, either after a gap or with no clear sign of a gap. Whatever the case was, we see changes in settlement dynamics, such as refusing to resettle the past Chalcolithic sites and choosing, in most of the cases not all, the deserted areas, in material culture such as pottery, and in models of interaction of these societies. However, these changes were not homogeneous in all parts of northwestern Iran and each area has its own trajectories.

  • 116 Kohl 2007, p. 25.
  • 117 Rothman 2003.

44At the end of the fourth and beginning of the third millennium BC, we observe an expansive presence of Kura‑Araxes culture not only around Urmia Lake but also as far as Mazandaran, the Qazvin Plain, Kermanshah, Nahavand, the Malayer plains and even the southern part of the Arak province. Along with this wide area of dissemination, every region has its own cultural entity, for instance in the Qazvin Plain or the Arak province. If we examine the general date of appearance of Kura‑Araxes tradition along its expansional area, we notice that this dispersal was neither systematically nor in the same time. However, we see that in some cases, they interlude to the area as far as they could, like eastern part of Urmia Lake, and in the other area, they just stop and did not go further, like western part of the Urmia Lake. If it was as an existence of local cultures in those areas or their resistance, then what would be our interpretation about sites as Godin or Kul Tepe near Jolfa, that were as well already settled. So it seems that Rothman models fit appropriately in this context. I do believe, as Kohl116 and Rothman117, that Kura‑Araxes cultural tradition is a long‑term process and not a simple event that happened once upon a time. It contains different phases of recognition, interaction, and then movement.

45The transition in pottery and architecture foreground a tripartite phase for many sites (see tab. 3). However, the dearth of C14 dating and lack of systematic excavated and well stratified Kura‑Araxes sites makes this argument still tentative and should be verified with more evidence. Given three C14 dating from Nadir Tepesi, Kohne Tepe and Kul Tepe near Jolfa, the end of the Kura‑Araxes horizon is confined to ca. 2400 BC.

46The attested data could be meaningfully interpreted only when we are able to put them in a broader context. In this regard, the future activities and investigations in this area, especially the Araxes River basin, and also the other parts of northwestern Iran will shed more light on the cultural dynamics, socio-economical character of this culture and perhaps the pull factors of Kura‑Araxes migration into Iran.

Acknowledgment

47I would like to thank the organizers of this symposium for providing the chance to discuss critical issues of the third millennium in Iran. My thanks go further to Prof. Meyer and the Enki group at Goethe University (Verein zur Förderung archäologischer Grabungen) for the support and funding of my survey project, respectively. Mitchell Rothman kindly read the first draft of this article and added useful comments, for which I am grateful to him. I would also like to thank an anonymous reviewer for useful comments. All errors are, of course, my own.

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Marro C., Bakhshaliyev V. and Ashurov S. 2009, “Excavations at Ovçular Tepesi (Nakhichevan, Azerbaijan). First Preliminary Report: the 2006‑2008 seasons”, Anatolia Antiqua 17, p. 31‑87.

Marro C., Bakhshaliyev V. and Ashurov S. 2011, “Excavations at Ovçular Tepesi (Nakhichevan, Azerbaijan). Second Preliminary Report: the 2009‑20010 seasons”, Anatolia Antiqua 19, p. 53‑100.

Marro C., Bakhshaliyev V. and Berthon R. 2014, “On the genesis of the Kuro‑Araxes phenomenon: new evidence from Nakhchivan (Azerbaijan)”, Paléorient 40/2, p. 131‑154.

Maziar S. 2010, “Excavations at Kohne Pasgah Tepesi, the Araxes Valley, NW Iran: First Preliminary Report”, Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Studies 47, p. 165‑193.

Maziar S. 2015, “Settlement dynamics of the Kura Araxes culture: an overview of the Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age in the Khoda Afarin Plain, Northwest Iran”, Paléorient 41/1, p. 25‑36.

Maziar S. in press, “Exploring beyond the river and inside the valleys; settlement development and cultural landscape of the Araxes River basin through time”, to appear in Iran.

Maziar S. and Glascock M.D. 2017, “Communication Networks and Economical Interactions; Araxes Valley Obsidian Sourcing”, Journal of Archaeological science: Report 14. p. 31‑37.

Meyer J.W. 2001, “Transkaukasus und Nordwest-Iran während der Frühen Bronzezeit”, in J.W. Meyer, M. Novak and A. Pruss (ed.), Beiträge zur Vorderasiatische Archäologie, Winfried Orthman gewidmet, Frankfurt am Main, p. 310‑321.

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Motarjen A. and Niknami K. 2011, “Asr Mefragh ghadim dar shargh Zagros Markazi – Iran [Early Bronze Age in the eastern part of central Zagros]”, Motale’te Bastanshenasi 4, p. 35‑54 (in Persian).

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Narimanov I. 2007, “Archaeological Sites of the Early Bronze Age in Northern Azerbaijan: A Gazetteer”, in A. Sagona (ed.), A View from the Highlands: Archaeological Studies in Honour of Charles Burney, Ancient Near Eastern Studies 12, p. 467‑473.

Nebieridze L. and Tskvitinidze N. 2010, “The first traces of Uruk culture in the South Caucasus” [Первые следы Урукской культуры на Южном Кавказе], in International Scientific Conference The archeology ethnology folklore Caucasus, p. 178‑180.

Nissen H.J. 2001, “Cultural and political networks in the ancient Near East during the fourth and third millennia BC”, in M. Rothman (ed.), Uruk Mesopotamia and Its Neighbors, Santa Fe, p. 149‑180.

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Zalaghi A., Maziar S., Mashkour M., Sheikhi Sh. and Jayez M. forthcoming, “First preliminary report of the excavation of Kohne Tepesi (Eastern Azerbaijan), Northwest Iran”.

Notes

1 Hole 1966, p. 605; Frangipane 2007; Frangipane 2010, p. 27‑35; Rothman 2001.

2 For instance at Gawra XI. Algaze 1993; Rothman 2002a; Rothman 2002b; Frangipane 2000b, p. 228‑229; Nissen, Damerow and Englund 1990.

3 Nissen 2001.

4 With the possible exception of Arslantepe.

5 Like at Gawra (Rothman 2002a; 2002b) and Arslantepe (Frangipane 1994; 2000a).

6 Algaze 1993; Algaze 2012.

7 For a general review of Kura‑Araxes settlements see Sagona 1984; for southern Caucasus, see Smith 2005; for eastern Anatolia, see Sagona and Zimansky 2010; for Iran, see Rothman 2011 and Summers 2013b; for the southern Levant, see Greenberg et al. 2012.

8 See Narimanov 1985; Akhundov 2007.

9 Nebieridze and Tskvitinidze 2010.

10 Many scholars also see this affiliation, for instance see Marro 2007; Akhundov 2007; Lyonnet 2007.

11 Pitskhelauri 2012.

12 Here only Late Chalcolithic settlements with Uruk related sherds are considered and a phenomenon such as the Maikop culture is not included, since it has different cultural mechanisms and dynamics in comparison to these settlements and should be discussed elsewhere.

13 See Lyonnet 2007, for a general overview see Marro 2010.

14 Marro 2010.

15 In modern history this word has a different meaning, see for instance Davis 2005.

16 See for instance Narimanov 1985; Henrickson 1985; Henrickson 1989. For the same discussion see Weeks, Petrie and Potts 2010, p. 247.

17 Voigt and Dyson 1992; Petrie 2013.

18 Binandeh 2011.

19 Danti, Voigt and Dyson 2004; Summers 2013a; Wilkinson 2014, see also Palumbi this volume.

20 Palumbi and Chataigner 2014.

21 For a general overview of Northwest Iran and Mesopotamia in Early Bronze Age see Meyer 2001.

22 For instance Swiny 1975.

23 Roaf 1990, p. 80.

24 Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014.

25 Burton Brown 1951.

26 Burton Brown 1951, p. 52.

27 Pecorella and Salvini 1984.

28 Kleiss and Kroll 1979; Kleiss and Kroll 1992; Kroll 1984; Kroll 2005.

29 Swiny 1975.

30 Rothman 2011.

31 Young 2004.

32 Howell 1979.

33 Motarjem and Niknami 2011.

34 Burton Brown 1981; Piller 2012, p. 445‑446.

35 Fazeli and Abbasnegad 2005, p. 22‑23; Fazeli, Valipour and Azizi Kharanaghi 2013, p. 122.

36 Piller 2012, p. 453.

37 Abedi, Eskandari et al. 2014.

38 Fahimi 2005.

39 I have discussed this issue in my PhD dissertation that will be published later.

40 Rothman 2003.

41 Summers 1982, p. 128.

42 For the review of these scenarios see Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018.

43 Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014; Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018.

44 Badalyan, Avetisyan and Smith 2009.

45 Summers 1982, p. 7; Summers 2013b; Summers 2014.

46 Summers 2014, p. 158.

47 Alizadeh 2007; Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018, p. 469.

48 See Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014.

49 Thanks to Mitchell Rothman for pointing to this correlation.

50 Summers 2013b, p. 180.

51 Burney and Lang 1971, p. 7.

52 Rothman 2011, p. 191‑192.

53 See also Summers 2014.

54 Although we should not forget the probable trade of perishable materials.

55 Alizadeh and Ur carried out a survey in the Moghan Steppe but have not yet published thoroughly the results of their survey (see Alizadeh and Ur 2007). Kleiss and Kroll also visited parts of this area randomly (Kroll 1984; Kroll 2004).

56 For instance see Sagona 2002. I address partly this issue somewhere else (see Maziar in press).

57 Sagona and Sagona 2000.

58 Ristvet, Baxseliyev and Aşurov 2011, p. 14.

59 Ristvet, Baxseliyev and Aşurov 2011, p. 15.

60 Marro, Bakhshaliyev and Berthon 2014.

61 Marro, Bakhshaliyev and Ashurov 2009; Marro, Bakhshaliyev and Ashurov 2011.

62 Abibullaev 1982.

63 Ristvet, Baxşaliev and Aşurov 2011.

64 Ristvet, Baxseliyev and Aşurov 2011, p. 11.

65 Ristvet, Baxseliyev and Aşurov 2011, p. 17.

66 Courcier, Lyonnet and Guliyev 2012.

67 Ristvet, Baxşaliev and Aşurov 2011, p. 19.

68 Ristvet, Baxseliyev and Aşurov 2011, p. 13, table 1.

69 Based on Parker et al. 2011, p. 192‑194.

70 Bakhshaliyev 2006.

71 In the mentioned article they were termed Eneolithic sites (Ristvet, Baxşaliev and Aşurov 2011, p. 7).

72 Ristvet, Baxseliyev and Aşurov 2011, p. 7.

73 Bakhshaliyev and Novruzov 2010; Narimanov 2007.

74 Narimanov 2007; Akhundov 2011; Helwing 2012.

75 Alizadeh and Ur 2007.

76 On the Iranian side.

77 Kroll 1984.

78 Maziar 2010.

79 Maziar 2015.

80 Mohammadi 2011.

81 Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018.

82 Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018, p. 467.

83 Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018, p. 470.

84 Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018, p. 470.

85 Lame’ie et al. 2006.

86 Ghorabi et al. 2008.

87 Marjan Mashkour and Fatemeh Azedeh Mohaseb have studied this assemblage, to whom I am so grateful.

88 See Decaix, Mohased et al. this volume.

89 See Decaix, Mohased et al. this volume.

90 For the rescue project, see Maziar 2010.

91 However, remains of such activity, such as deformed pottery sherds or slags, have not been found around these structures, and it seems that they were cleaned before abandonment.

92 See Decaix, Mohased et al. this volume.

93 Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014.

94 Alizadeh 2007.

95 In the published article of Kul Tepe both Phases II and III come in one part and it is not clear which form of architecture belongs to which phase. It is just mentioned that in Trench 1 there are four building phases, of which the first one is circular and the other three phases were rectangular (Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014, p. 47‑49).

96 Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014.

97 Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014, p. 45.

98 Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014, p. 58.

99 Marro, Bakhshaliyev and Ashurov 2009 ; Marro, Bakhshaliyev and Ashurov 2011; Ristvet, Baxşaliev and Aşurov 2011.

100 Ristvet, Baxşaliev and Aşurov 2011, p. 6; Alizadeh and Ur 2007.

101 Piro 2009.

102 For a general overview see Maziar and Glascock 2017.

103 Ghorabi et al. 2010, p. 19; Blackman et al. 1998; Maziar and Glascock 2017.

104 Blackman et al. 1998.

105 Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014, p. 39‑40.

106 Kiguradze and Sagona 2003, p. 48.

107 Sagona 2000.

108 Marro 2011; Marro, Bakhshaliyev and Berthon 2014.

109 Kiguradze and Sagona 2003.

110 Marro 2011, p. 295.

111 Marro 2011, p. 300.

112 Palumbi 2011.

113 Lyonnet 2000.

114 Kohl 2009, p. 246‑247.

115 Danti, Voigt and Dyson 2004.

116 Kohl 2007, p. 25.

117 Rothman 2003.

Table des illustrations

Titre Table 1 – Chronological table of northwestern Iran.
Légende 1. Khaksar, Hemati Azandaryanu and Nourozi 2015. 2. Not 2 sigma and calibrated, Voigt and Dyson 1992, p. 178.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/7986/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 465k
Titre Fig. 1 – Map of Northwest Iran, showing the location of Kura‑Araxes settlements and other sites mentioned in the text.
Légende 1. Nadir Tepesi; 2. Kohne Pasgah Tepesi; 3. Kohne Tepesi; 4. Kul Tepe near Jolfa; 5. Kultepe I; 6. Kultepe II; 7. Maxta; 8. Ovcular Tepesi; 9. Sos hoyuk; 10. Leila Tepe; 11. Areni I; 12. NASP 16; 13. Surtepe; 14. Xalaç; 15. Arabyenigaah; 16. Ravaz; 17. Baruj; 18. Yanik Tape; 19. Haftvan Tape; 20. Gijlar; 21. Geoy Tape; 22. Hasanlu; 23. Pisa; 24. Godin; 25. Gurab; 26. Qoli Darvish; 27. Balekin; 28. Duranabad; 29. Shizar; 30. Ismailabad; 31. Kelar; 32. Diarjan; 33. Toragaytepe; 34. Baba Darvish; 35. Tsopi; 36. Berikldeebi; 37. Arslantepe.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/7986/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 923k
Titre Fig. 2 – Expansion area of Kura‑Araxes culture inside Iran.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/7986/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 549k
Titre Fig. 3 – Distribution of archaeological fieldwork in northwestern Iran (based on publications).
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/7986/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 2,9M
Titre Fig. 4 – Location of settlements along the Araxes Valley and the studied area (dashed line).
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/7986/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 904k
Titre Fig. 5 – Nadir Tepesi.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/7986/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 805k
Titre Table 2 – Settlement attributes of the studied sites along the Araxes Valley.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/7986/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 240k
Titre Table 3 – Simplified correlation among excavated Kura‑Araxes sites in Northwest and western Iran (After Abedi, Khatib Shahidi et al. 2014; Summers 2013a-b; Summers 2014; Rothman 2011; Burton Brown 1951; Alizadeh, Maziar and Mohammadi 2018; Maziar 2010; Zalaghi et al. forthcoming).
Légende a) The conclusion of gathered scholars in Toronto was that there were only two Kura-Araxes periods, KA I (3500‑3000 BC) and KA II (2900‑2500 BC), and that after about 2500‑2450 BC the Kura‑Araxes cultural tradition is no longer in existence. These scholars argued, that in the South Caucasus the black pottery tradition continued, but the other elements of the Kura‑Araxes had disappeared in favor of a mobile lifestyle (I am most grateful to M. Rothman for sharing this information, and for our long fruitful discussion about the phasing of the Kura‑Araxes cultural tradition). However, multiple other sites, such as Yanik, Nadir Tepesi, Kul Tepe Hadishahr, or Kohne Shahr, demonstrate a transformation, which is considered by their excavators as KA III period. b) There is different dating for the end of the KA III period; most sites ended around 2500 and some other around 2200, based on C14 dating that should be verified with more samples. The proposed date should be considered as a date range of this period and for instance 2200 is not the terminus ante quem for all sites.c) I am grateful to K. Alizadeh for answering my questions regarding the chronology of Nadir Tepesi and Kohne Shahr, and A. Abedi for the dating of the Kura‑Araxes phases at Kul Tepe Hadishahr.d) At Godin Tepe III: 6 a small percentage of black and grey pottery continued, but it disappeared by 2500 BC (I am grateful to M. Rothman for this information).* It should be noted that the final reports of these excavations are not published yet, and considering the KA III phase in all of them is only based on the excavator’s statement. None of them have published the KA III material culture. Therefore, this table should be considered only as a current state of our knowledge regarding the Kura‑Araxes phasing in Iran based on current excavated sites, and should be verified based on more systematic excavations and the final reports of all these excavations.** The available C14 dating of these sites propose a later date for the end of the Kura‑Araxes phase. More C14 is required to verify this date for the end of the phase at these sites.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/7986/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 935k
Titre Fig. 6 – The location of Kohne Pasgah Tepesi and Kohne Tepesi and their distance to the Araxes River.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/7986/img-9.jpg
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Titre Fig. 7 – Kohne Pasgah Tepesi.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/7986/img-10.jpg
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Titre Fig. 8 – Kohne Tepesi.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/7986/img-11.jpg
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Titre Fig. 9 – Kul Tepe near Jolfa.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/7986/img-12.jpg
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