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The Iranian Plateau during the Bronze Age

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

Elamite Kingdom

An overview of the settlement patterns of Susa III period in the Upper Khuzestan

Archaeological survey in the western bank of the Karkheh river

Ali Zalaghi

Résumé

De nombreuses prospections archéologiques ont été menées dans la plaine de la Susiane. Pourtant, nos connaissances des modes d’occupation de cette région pendant la période Suse III/proto-élamite sont encore préliminaires et incomplètes. Cet article fait la recension et réévalue les résultats des prospections archéologiques de la plaine de Susiane depuis la fin du quatrième jusqu’au début du troisième millénaire av. J.‑C., et donne un aperçu succinct des prospections archéologiques récentes sur la rive ouest de la rivière Karkheh. L’objectif principal de cette contribution est d’intégrer les résultats des prospections anciennes et récentes des sites datés de la période Suse III pour avoir une approche plus précise de la dynamique d’occupation à cette période dans différents secteurs de la plaine de la Susiane.

Texte intégral

Introduction

1One of the important factors for an accurate understanding of early urbanization and early state formation is knowledge about the system of settlements and population density; if their society was egalitarian, or hierarchal with progressive centralization. The study of settlement dynamics and their organizational mechanism will help us to grasp the economic and political relations between villages and different centers of power.

  • 1 Alden 1982; Alden 1987.
  • 2 Schacht 1973.
  • 3 Wright 1987.

2In this regard, this study focuses on the settlement patterns of the Upper Khuzestan, in southwest Iran, during the end of the fourth to the early third millennium BC (Susa III/Proto-Elamite period). The Susa III period had a low number of settlements and population in Upper Khuzestan, distributed in predominantly small sites with only one large center, Susa1. However, Schacht presented a list of Susa III settlements composed of thirty‑two villages and two large towns2. Nevertheless, in this phase we are confronted with the development of early state and the confrontation between regions in southwest Iran3.

  • 4 Schacht 1973.
  • 5 Alden 1982; Alden 1987.
  • 6 The central part of Khuzestan, where was the subject of many past investigations, is ca. 80x60 km. (...)
  • 7 For archaeological survey in the eastern Karun river see Moghaddam 2012, Moghaddam and Miri 2007, (...)

3In the recent decades, many archaeological excavations and surveys have shed considerable light on the change and continuity of the settlements and demographic trends in southwestern Iran. However, our understanding of Susa III settlement patterns in Upper Khuzestan is still limited to those once Schacht listed4 and to Alden surveys5. Both were carried out more than 35 years ago. Focusing on the central sector of the Upper Khuzestan, they were unable to cover all parts of this plain6. The region on the west bank of the Karkheh River and the east bank of the Karun River had never been surveyed intensively, and no settlement of the third millennium BC was recognized. Recently, both regions were subjected to archaeological surveys7. Accordingly, the present article gives first a general overview of the archaeological surveys in the west bank of the Karkheh River and the third millennium BC settlement patterns in this region. Furthermore I rather focus on the Schacht and Alden surveys as well as the Moghaddam survey in order to challenge the given patterns of Susa III settlements in the Upper Khuzestan.

Review of Studies about early Third Millennium BC Settlements in Upper Khuzestan

  • 8 Schacht 1973, p. 39; Adams 1962.
  • 9 Schacht 1973, App. A.3.
  • 10 Dittmann 1986, fig. 18‑20.
  • 11 Schacht 1973, App. A.3.

4For the first time, Adams recognized fifteen settlements that dated to the early third millennium BC8, however eight of them are suspect. Later Schacht published a list of Susa III settlements based on Adams’s survey results and his fieldwork9. This list was then used by Dittmann10 to study the Susa III settlement patterns and regional and interregional development in the Upper Susiana. This list presented 36 Susa III settlements. Due to the list, Susa (30 ha) and Tappeh Senjar (12 ha) were two large towns. The settlements, KS 3 (8.7 ha) and KS 96 (8 ha) were small towns in the northern Susiana; another 32 settlements (0‑4 ha) were villages, although 16 of them were uncertain in terms of date. Schacht mentioned that the total area of 109.0 ha (85.7 ha of certain sites + 23.3 ha of uncertain sites) of north Susiana was occupied during the Susa III period11.

  • 12 Henry Wright had provided a list of Susa III settlements, including 35 sites, and gave it to John  (...)
  • 13 Alden 1982; Alden 1987.
  • 14 Alden 1982, p. 618; Alden 1987, p. 159.

5Based on the list of Susa III settlements12, John Alden carried out a survey13. It should be noted that he did an intensive survey only on the sites which were mentioned in the list. He only visited 29 sites; on ten of them he did not find characteristic sherds of Susa III (tab. 214). Alden considers Susa as the only large center, KS 308 and KS 396 as two small sites in the Upper Susiana, and other settlements as minor sites. It should be noted that KS 308 and KS 396 were mentioned for the first time in Alden’s survey and there was no mention of them in Schacht’s list (tab. 2).

  • 15 Schacht 1973, p. 50.
  • 16 Based on the stratigraphical excavations at several sites in Susiana and comparing pottery motives (...)
  • 17 Dittmann 1986, p. 236‑237.
  • 18 Susa, KS 308, KS 396, KS 5, KS 39, KS 49.
  • 19 Alden (1987) published only one figure, which presented some pottery sherds of the four settlement (...)
  • 20 Alden 1987, tab. 28. This internal chronology by Alden is based on the Susa III data from Susa. Ho (...)

6Schacht considered a long period for Susa III separated in two phases15: the first phase corresponded with “Susa Cb‑Da”, and the second phase with “Susa Db‑De” in Le Breton’s chronological table16. However, it is not clear to which sub‑phases the listed settlements belong17. He did not publish any Susa III sherds and the density of Susa III sherds is absolutely unclear, as are the criteria by which he estimated the occupied area of Susa III settlements. Alden, however, did an intensive survey and systematically collected the sherds on the settlements. He estimated the area of some important sites18 in three sub‑phases of the Susa III period19 namely; Early, Middle, and Late Susa III20.

  • 21 Moghaddam and Miri 2003; Moghaddam and Miri 2007; Moghaddam 2012.

7Between 2001 and 2005 Moghaddam did intensive surveys in the Mianab Plain in the eastern sector of the Gargar River that he named as the eastern corridor21. His Surveys shed a new light on the Susa III settlements in this part of Khuzestan. However, he did not publish any Susa III sherds, therefore the density of Susa III sherds, and the sub‑phase of the Susa III period in each settlement is unknown.

8The Susa III settlements that have been reported in past and new surveys are given in tables 1‑3. Ten of them have been completely destroyed by agricultural programs. Hence, the published and unpublished pottery assemblage of them settlements are the only archaeological evidence that we have today.

Table 1 – Susa III settlements in the western bank of the Karkheh river (WK = west side of the Karkheh).

Map No. Field No. Name Coordination
1 WK 157 Ishan Al Aswad 39S 229080-3577984
2 WK 164 Mollhe 39S 229462-3573810
3 WK 115 39S 231246-3551993

Table 2 – The Susa III settlements attributes based on Schacht’s list and Alden’s survey (area is in hectare); the sites with star (*) are the uncertain sites mentioned in Schacht’s list.

Map No. KS No. Name Coordination Schacht 1973 Alden 1987 Exist Not exist
4 Susa 39S 241622
3565012
30 11 X
5 KS 3 39S 263037
3563796
8.7 No PE
seen
X
6 KS 5 39S 263373
3560294
0.5 0.2 X
7 KS 7 Tappeh Senjar 39S 236501
3584397
12 No PE
seen
X
8 KS 8 Tappeh Saiyeh 39S 240207
3584794
0.4 X
9 KS 10 39S 240377
3582818
3.5 no visited X
10 KS 11* 39S 239734
3580678
1.3 X
11 KS 12* 39S 243285
3582779
2 no visited X
12 KS 15 39S 240540
3578564
0.5 1 BRB X
13 KS 17 39S 241769
3577944
0.7 no visited X
14 KS 18* 39S 235246
3578516
1 no visited X
15 KS 24 Tappeh Solyman 39S 239551
3570311
0.8 no visited X
16 KS 35 A 39S 246569
3561340
1 no visited X
17 KS 39 Tappeh Rahimeh 39S 260351
3564531
3 0.2 X
18 KS 42* 39S 259326
3564265
0.6 no visited X
19 KS 47 39S 257292
3561895
2.5 no PE X
20 KS 48* 39S 258540
3558171
3.6 no visited X
21 KS 49 Bugga Ishan 39S 258533
3557783
3 0.5 X
22 KS 50* Tappeh Alvan 39S 260138
3555659
1.1 no visited X
23 KS 54 39S 250876
3553779
2.5 no PE X
24 KS 59 Tappeh Abufanduweh 39S 246747
3554026
1.8 X
25 KS 61* 39S 249079
3557047
1.4 no visited X
26 KS 72* 39S 251223
3559500
1.6 no visited X
27 KS 76** 39S 257878
3551341
1.4 no visited X
28 KS 94 39S 245403
3550461
2.4 no visited X
29 KS 96 Tappeh Keihf 39S 242804
3547932
8 no visited X
30 KS 102 39S 275092
3568340
1.2 no visited X
31 KS 113* 39S 266571
3559172
1.1 X
32 KS 120* Tappeh Dehno 39S 270417
3550630
2 X
33 KS 153* 39S 288616
3573064
1.5 no visited X
34 KS 171* 39S 293843
3562303
2.8 no visited ?
35 KS 172 Chogha Gotvand 39S 294402
3568386
1.2 no visited X
36 KS 248* 39R 297252
3541525
0.8 no visited ?
37 KS 254* 39S 289682
3564864
1.6 no visited ?
38 KS 291* 39S 241555
3566760
1.0 no visited X
39 KS 308 39S 259284
3564444
2.2 ?
40 KS 396? 39S 269890
3569287
3.2 X
41 KS 512* 39S 263078
3557768
0.4 minor site X
42 KS 566 39S 265351
3552277
possible PE X
43 KS 605 39S 266193
3551951
possible PE X
44 KS 606 39S 266165
3552105
possible PE X

** Van den Boorn, Houtkamp and Verhart in 1989 published an alabaster vase from KS 76 which collected by Westerhof in 1983 during his employment by the Dutch Sugar Company as a civil engineer (for more information see Van Den Boorn, Houtkamp and Verhart 1989).

Table 3 – Susa III settlements in the eastern Karun River (based on the Moghaddam 2012; Moghaddam and Miri 2007; Moghaddam and Miri 2003).

Map No. KS No. Name coordination
45 KS 1558 Aboo Amoud Nejat 39R 296009 3514246
46 KS 1567 39R 300422 3513860
47 KS 1580 Talle-e Hasan 39R 299907 3536691
48 KS 1616 Ishan Al Dovveh 39R 302360 3520633
49 KS 1643 Tappeh Samirat 39R 319693 3507871
50 KS 1665 39R 328010 3506271
51 KS 1681 39R 301059 3537042
52 KS 1682 39R 301319 3536087
53 KS 1615 39R 302729 3517855
54 KS 1670 39R 338865 3488919

Archaeological Survey in the West bank of the Karkheh River: A General View

  • 22 For the archaeological investigations along the Dez River see: Mofidi-Nasrabadi 2010.
  • 23 In my MA thesis, I have discussed the development of the prehistoric settlement patterns: Zalaghi  (...)

9As part of the archaeological research of the UNESCO project in Chogha Zanbil, some extensive surveys were carried out around Chogha Zanbil, especially along the Dez River, with the aim of recognizing the settlement patterns of the Middle Elamite period22. As a part of this project, I conducted a four‑month intensive survey on the west bank of the Karkheh River in 2004 and 2005 that resulted in the discovery of 81 settlements ranging in date from prehistoric to Islamic periods23.

10The surveyed area is located on the western side of the Karkheh River and extends to the border with Iraq. In the south, it is bounded by the sandy Mishdagh desert, to the north by the foothills of the Zagros Mountains, and to the northwest it extends to the border of Khuzestan and Ilam Provinces (fig. 1).

11Geomorphologically, the western sector of Karkheh is composed of three different landscapes: the Sorkheh zone in the north, Chenaneh zone in the center and Seyed Abbas zone in the south. Sorkheh is a fertile plain and most of the settlements are located in this zone. Chenaneh and Seyed Abbas are rather formed by sandy and dune hills and are not appropriate for agriculture. Only the Karkheh basin area in these two regions is capable for practicing sustainable agriculture. Even nowadays, the subsistence economy in these two regions (Chenaneh and Seyed Abbas) is based on nomadism. In contrast to them, most of the agricultural activities are concentrated in the Sorkheh region.

12It must be noticed that the war between Iraq and Iran (1980‑1988) had also an impact on the western side of the Karkheh River, which has made this area dangerous for doing any fieldwork and even after 25 years one can find landmines in some parts. Therefore, we could only do a survey in the safer areas. With the help of local people, especially farmers and herdsmen, most sites were visited and a random sampling method was carried out in the field.

  • 24 Johnson 1973.

13Ceramic examination shows that nine settlements were settled in the prehistoric period (late Middle Susiana to Susa II period). Only three of them were discussed in the past surveys, but they have never been accurately investigated24.

14The earliest settlement on the western side of the Karkheh River dated to the late Middle Susiana period. During this period, only the Sorkheh zone, northern area, was settled. Subsequently during the Late Susiana 1 and 2 (Susa I) periods the southern part (Seyed Abbas) began to be settled. In this time the density of settlements in southern part was almost similar to the northern area.

  • 25 Adams (1962) and his successors have used KS (Khuzestan Survey), which is still usual; however, we (...)
  • 26 Zalaghi 2014.

15This situation was modified in the Susa II period. The settlements in the southern part have been disappeared. Except a small village, WK 11525 with 0.3 ha, most settlements were located in the Sorkheh zone26. In the later periods, especially during the Parthian and Sasanian period, this zone was even more occupied.

  • 27 For more information about settlements patterns development in prehistoric time see, Zalaghi 2014.

16It must be mentioned that all the prehistoric settlements, except WK 102, are located in a distance of 2 up to 4 km to the Karkheh River. It seems that during the 5th and 4th millennia BC, although the Karkheh River itself did not play an important role, seasonal rivers and small channels in the immediate vicinity of the settlements were used to supply water for agricultural and daily activities. It is striking that all settlements were clustered along the Karkheh River at an utmost distance of ca. 4 km, and the region beyond this distance, at the modern border between Iran and Iraq, was never settled during the 5th and 4th millennia BC. The survey results show that the settlements increased in the Late Susiana 1 and 2 (Susa I). Towards the terminal Susa I and Susa II period, the number of settlements apparently reduced27.

The distribution model of Susa III/Proto-Elamite settlements in north Susiana

17Our knowledge of the Proto-Elamite settlement systems in the northern Susiana is incomplete and ambiguous. In this paper, in order to examine the degree of change in the settlement patterns and their underlying mechanism I separated the northern Susiana into four geographical sectors: 1. West of the Karkheh River, 2. Karkheh to Dez River, 3. Dez to Karun River and 4. Eastern Karun River.

Western Karkheh River

  • 28 For more information about the Proto-Elamite layers at Tall‑e Geser see Alizadeh 2014.

18The evidence of occupation during the early third millennium BC in the west bank of the Karkheh River is not very clear. We did not find the characteristic Proto-Elamite pottery, which is known from Susa, Abu Fanduweh in the Susiana plain and Tall‑e Geser28 in the Ramhormoz plain. Only five sherds in the three settlements WK 157 (2 sherds), WK 115 (one sherd) and 164 (two sherds) were probably dated to the Proto-Elamite period (fig. 3).

19Except WK 115 that is located in the southern part, the rest are situated in the Sorkheh zone (northern part). It seems that two of them, namely WK 157 and 164, were settled since the fifth millennium BC, and WK 115 was occupied since Susa II. However, without doing an excavation, it is not easy to draw up a more precise chronology, and we do not know if WK 115 was occupied for the first time during late Susa II or Susa III.

20Similar to the fifth and fourth millennia BC, all early third millennium sites were located along seasonal rivers and near natural channels. It should be noted that all settlements were located at a distance of about two to four km away from the Karkheh River. All the early third millennium BC settlements in this sector are minor sites (around half a hectare). Due to the low density of pottery sherds and the small size of the settlements, either only a few families have lived in this region, especially in the Sorkheh sector, or pastoral groups lived just for a short time in this area. It seems that this sector of the Susiana plain cannot have played any role in the political and economic landscape of the Proto-Elamite period.

Karkheh to Dez River

  • 29 Schacht 1973, App. A‑3.
  • 30 Dittmann 1986, Kar. 19.
  • 31 Alden 1987. Alden in his article (1982) located seven Susa III settlements, although in another ar (...)
  • 32 No Proto-Elamite tablet was found from the new excavations at two Proto-Elamite settlements, Abu F (...)
  • 33 Schacht 1973, p. 53.
  • 34 Dittmann 1986; Dittmann 1987.
  • 35 Steve and Gasche (1990, p. 27) believed that the settlements of Susa extended on the Ville Royale  (...)

21According to Schacht’s list29 and Dittmann’s study30 19 settlements were located between the Karkheh and Dez rivers, whereas Alden pointed only to eight settlements31. Numerous Proto-Elamite tablets were found in Susa, while no tablet is reported from the other Proto-Elamite settlements of the north Susiana, which makes it absolutely clear that Susa was not only an important site for economic and commercial exchanges but also the largest center during this period32. Nevertheless, it is not clear what the exact size of Susa was during the Proto-Elamite period. Schacht estimated 30 ha for Susa during this time33, whereas Alden suggested only 11 ha for each phase of the Susa III period. However, Dittmann34 after his intensive study on the Susa III material refuted Alden’s suggestion and confirmed Schacht’s estimate35.

  • 36 Carter 1971, tab. 3.
  • 37 Sardari Zarchi 2014, p. 175.
  • 38 Although the real size of this site is tentative, it could have been a major settlement in this pe (...)

22Schacht believed Tappeh Senjar (KS 7), with an area of 12 ha, to be the other major site in this sector during Susa III, however, Alden did not see any Susa III sherds on this site. Moreover, Carter put a question mark for “Susa C‑D”/Susa III phase on Tappeh Senjar36. New archaeological surveys and excavations at Tappeh Senjar demonstrate that it was a small site of around 1 ha in the Susa III period37. Tappeh Kheif (KS 96) is the other site that Schacht considered as a small town with 8 ha, which was not visited by Alden38.

  • 39 Alden 1987, fig. 41.
  • 40 Alizadeh 2014, p. 237.

23The other important site is Tappeh Abu Fanduweh, which Schacht suggested was 1.8 ha during Susa III. Although the name of this site is not mentioned in Alden’s study, it is likely that one of the minor sites in the map published by Alden is identical with this site39. New archaeological survey and excavation in Abu Fanduweh by Alizadeh confirmed the Susa III deposit in the southern mound of Abu Fanduweh and extended ca. 2 ha during this period40.

Dez to Karun river

  • 41 Alden 1982, fig. 3; Alden 1987, tab. 28.

24Schacht recognized 11 settlements in this sector, 10 of them were located between the Dez and Lureh Rivers. Due to Schacht’s list, KS 3 covered an area of around 8.7 ha and other settlements were between 0‑4 ha. Alden has recognized 24 Susa III settlements in this sector. Alden considered KS 308 (2.2 ha) and KS 396 (3.2 ha) as two small sites and the others as minor sites41. Those two small sites are not mentioned in Schacht’s list. KS 5, 39 and 49 are the other settlements that appeared in Schacht’s list, but with different extents (tab. 2).

  • 42 Five of them were uncertain settlements.
  • 43 Tappeh Dehno (KS 120) was an important site in this sector at the end of the third and the beginni (...)
  • 44 Chogha Mish is one of the important sites in this sector. It is not clear whether it was occupied (...)

25Schacht has recognized seven Susa III settlements between the Lureh and Karun Rivers42, whereas Alden recognized no site in this sector. In this regard, it is very important to resurvey the region between the Lureh and Karun Rivers in order to check Schacht’s list43. Moreover, it seems that based on Schacht’s studies, due to the high amount of settlements, the region between Dez and Lureh could have played an important role in the interregional exchange during the Susa III period in Upper Khuzestan44.

Eastern Karun

  • 45 In his article of 2007 (Moghaddam and Miri 2007, tab. 2) KS 1670 had been introduced as a Proto-El (...)
  • 46 As no Susa III pottery is published of eastern Karun, the density of Susa III pottery in each sett (...)
  • 47 Moghaddam 2012, p. 47.
  • 48 Alden 1987, tab. 28.

26Eastern of the Karun River Moghaddam (2012) recognized nine settlements45 that date back to Susa III, one of them is probably a cemetery (KS 1665)46. He estimated that the total area of the settlements in the eastern Karun River was around 20.71 ha and with the exception of KS 1580, all other settlements were newly established during this time47. However, in the past surveys the estimate of the total area was 17 ha in all of the Susiana plain48. If we accept Moghaddam’s estimate, then it seems that we are confronted with a shift of movements from western to eastern Susiana.

Final remarks and Discussion

  • 49 There are different opinions about the chronology of Susa III period. For discussion about the chr (...)
  • 50 Carter 1978; Carter 1980; Alden 1987; Dittmann 1986.
  • 51 Dahl, Petrie and Potts 2013, p. 375.
  • 52 Dahl, Petrie and Potts 2013, p. 375.
  • 53 Dittmann 1986, fig. 18‑20.

27The Proto-Elamite period lasted for several centuries. It covered the end of the fourth to the first half of the early third millennium BC49 and is separated into the three sub‑phases: Early, Middle and Late Susa III50. The intensive studies on the Proto-Elamite tablets from Susa and various other sites by Jacob Dahl show that it is possible to differentiate Early, Middle and Late Proto-Elamite texts51. It is interesting that in Susa all of these three text types were found, but at Tall‑e Geser in the Ramhormoz plain only the Early and Middle Proto-Elamite texts were recognized52. However, among the survey material, the pottery of the three mentioned phases cannot be identified in all cases definitely. Schacht’s list that was used later by Dittmann53 did not give any information about the sub‑phases and size of occupation in each phase, whereas Alden estimated the size of some settlements during different phases of the Susa III period. In fact, the whole area of occupation in each phase of the Susa III settlements in northern Susiana is unclear. Hence the analysis of social and political development during different sub‑phases of Proto-Elamite period is not possible.

28The estimation of size and area of the Proto-Elamite sites in Upper Khuzestan are very relative and paradoxical (tab. 2 and fig. 2), which make the production of any map or interpretation of site size hierarchies very tentative. These issues hamper any interpretation of political organization of Proto-Elamite period. Moreover, without accurate information about the size of sites and the density of Susa III sherds in each site, we cannot be able to say much about the density of population and demography changes during the Susa III period in Susiana plain.

  • 54 To estimate the degree of destruction of the settlements during the last decades I have compared t (...)

29Moreover, among 41 sites (tab. 2) that Alden and Schacht have surveyed, ten sites are completely leveled and three others are strongly eroded54. The collected sherds of these sites are the only archaeological evidence that we have today. There remains the question after a manner to recheck and study the settlements of the Susa III period that are mentioned in Schacht’s list, like KS 10, 35, 94, 153, 291 that Alden did not survey. How can we check out the date and size of KS 605 and 606 that were visited by Alden? A careful publication of the complete assemblages gathered on those destroyed sites – currently in the Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, and probably the Iranian National Museum – is the only way to study them and come to an understanding of the role of these occupations during the Susa III period.

  • 55 Alden 1987, p. 160.
  • 56 Alden also believed that the locations of several small occupations during the Susa III period may (...)
  • 57 Moghaddam 2012.
  • 58 Alizadeh 2014, p. 237.
  • 59 Wright 1987, tab. 26.

30Although Alden believes that a large part of the Susiana plain is abandoned during the Proto-Elamite period and only very few sites were occupied55. There is no evidence of hierarchical social organization and long‑term settlements in this time. The new evidence of Proto-Elamite settlements in the eastern Karun suggest that the living conditions could have been changed during this period (turn to nomadism)56. In this sector, eight of the nine Susa III settlements were established during this time57, which demonstrates a movement of population, probably from the western to the eastern sector of Susiana plain. It was the case also in other eastern plains of Susiana. In Rahmhormoz plain the number of sites increased from 5 sites in Late Susa II (Late Uruk) to 14 sites in Susa III, with the total area of occupation from 5.7 to 11.07 ha58. In Izeh Plain the total area of occupation grew up from Middle Susa II (Middle Uruk) to 32 ha in Proto-Elamite period59.

  • 60 Dahl, Petrie and Potts 2013, p. 354.
  • 61 Alden 1982; Alden 1987.
  • 62 Alizadeh 2014, p. 253.

31More than 1557 Proto-Elamite tablets have been found in Susa60, which represents a strong administrative system and economic power in the Susiana plain. As is mentioned above, Alden has estimated the size of Susa in this period as 11 ha, which seems to be underestimated. Generally speaking, the number of settlements declined, which Alden interpreted as low population density61, although Alizadeh argued that the settlement decrease does not mean low population density, but low settled population62. The results of the past and new surveys and excavations demonstrate that the number of Susa III settlements in northern Susiana was probably 54, among them many minor sites. More systematic surveys or excavations on some sites such as Tappeh Kheif (KS 96) and other minor sites are needed to provide further information about the political landscape of the Proto-Elamite period. Furthermore, the lack of systematic and intensive surveys and excavations of the Susa III settlements in the northern Susiana makes the discussion about the changes of the political landscape and density of population during each sub‑phase of this period a conundrum.

Fig. 1 – Susa III/Proto-Elamite settlements in the western bank of the Karkheh river.

Fig. 1 – Susa III/Proto-Elamite settlements in the western bank of the Karkheh river.

Fig. 2 – Susa III/Proto-Elamite settlements in Susiana plain, based on tables 1‑3.

Fig. 2 – Susa III/Proto-Elamite settlements in Susiana plain, based on tables 1‑3.

Fig. 3 – 1: red ware (10YR 7/3), fine sand inclusion, Susa III, compared: Susa, Akropol I: 16, Le Brun 1971, fig. 62, 7; 2: buff ware (5Y 8/4), fine sand-and chaff inclusion, Susa III, compared: Susa, Akropol I: 15B, Le Brun 1971, fig. 62, 10; 3: buff ware (5Y 8/4) high chaff and low fine sand inclusion, Susa III, compared: Susa, Akropol I: 16, Le Brun 1971, fig. 61, 10.

Fig. 3 – 1: red ware (10YR 7/3), fine sand inclusion, Susa III, compared: Susa, Akropol I: 16, Le Brun 1971, fig. 62, 7; 2: buff ware (5Y 8/4), fine sand-and chaff inclusion, Susa III, compared: Susa, Akropol I: 15B, Le Brun 1971, fig. 62, 10; 3: buff ware (5Y 8/4) high chaff and low fine sand inclusion, Susa III, compared: Susa, Akropol I: 16, Le Brun 1971, fig. 61, 10.

Acknowledgments

32I would like to thank Prof. Meyer and the Enki group at the Goethe University of Frankfurt for their support. John Alden kindly gave me the list of settlements with the notes that he wrote during his survey, I am very grateful to him. I am grateful to Behzad Mofidi-Nasrabadi, Abbas Alizadeh, and Abbas Moghaddam for their comments. I would also thank an anonymous reviewer for the great comments.

Bibliographie

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Alden J. 1982, “Trade and Politics in Proto-Elamite Iran”, Current Anthropology 23/6, p. 613‑640.

Alden J. 1987, “Susa III Period”, in Fr. Hole (ed.), The Archaeology of Western Iran, Smithsonian series in archaeological inquiry, Washington DC, p. 157‑170.

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Alizadeh A. 2014, Ancient Settlement Systems and Cultures in the Ram Hormuz Plain, Southwestern Iran: Excavation at Tall-e Geser and Regional Survey of the Ram Hormuz Plain, Oriental Institute Publications 140, Chicago.

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Moghaddam A. 2012, Later Village Period Settlement Development in the Karun River Basin, Upper Khuzestan Plain, Greater Susiana, Iran, BAR International Series 2347, Oxford.

Moghaddam A. and Miri N. 2003, “Archaeological Research in the Mianab Plain of Lowland Susiana, Southwestern Iran”, Iran 41, p. 99‑137.

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Notes

1 Alden 1982; Alden 1987.

2 Schacht 1973.

3 Wright 1987.

4 Schacht 1973.

5 Alden 1982; Alden 1987.

6 The central part of Khuzestan, where was the subject of many past investigations, is ca. 80x60 km. Doing a systematic survey one needs a lot of time in order to collect systematically surface assemblage and to study the terms natural landscape, distribution of pottery, the actual situation of sites and water sources.

7 For archaeological survey in the eastern Karun river see Moghaddam 2012, Moghaddam and Miri 2007, Moghaddam and Miri 2003 and for the western bank of the Karkheh river see: Zalaghi 2014.

8 Schacht 1973, p. 39; Adams 1962.

9 Schacht 1973, App. A.3.

10 Dittmann 1986, fig. 18‑20.

11 Schacht 1973, App. A.3.

12 Henry Wright had provided a list of Susa III settlements, including 35 sites, and gave it to John Alden, who took it as the base of his survey (personal communication).

13 Alden 1982; Alden 1987.

14 Alden 1982, p. 618; Alden 1987, p. 159.

15 Schacht 1973, p. 50.

16 Based on the stratigraphical excavations at several sites in Susiana and comparing pottery motives from Susiana with its neighbors Mesopotamia, Le Breton (1957) offered for the first time a chronological table for Susiana plain. Although this table were criticized by some scholars, still it is considered as the basic chronological table for the prehistoric time of Susiana plain. For the main discussion about the problem of the chronology of Susiana see Dittmann 1986, p. 1‑3 and Dittmann 1987, p. 31.

17 Dittmann 1986, p. 236‑237.

18 Susa, KS 308, KS 396, KS 5, KS 39, KS 49.

19 Alden (1987) published only one figure, which presented some pottery sherds of the four settlements (KS 308, 5, 49 and 39).

20 Alden 1987, tab. 28. This internal chronology by Alden is based on the Susa III data from Susa. However, he did not publish any catalog of the sherds of Susa III sub‑phases. Dittmann in his dissertation, based on the Susa III data from Acropolis I and Ville Royale I offered three sub phases for Proto-Elamite period namely: Proto-Elamite 1, Proto-Elamite 2 (a and b), Proto-Elamite 3 (Dittman 1986, p. 133‑147). For new discussion about the internal chronology of Susa III period see Mutin 2013, p. 7‑10.

21 Moghaddam and Miri 2003; Moghaddam and Miri 2007; Moghaddam 2012.

22 For the archaeological investigations along the Dez River see: Mofidi-Nasrabadi 2010.

23 In my MA thesis, I have discussed the development of the prehistoric settlement patterns: Zalaghi 2014.

24 Johnson 1973.

25 Adams (1962) and his successors have used KS (Khuzestan Survey), which is still usual; however, we use the acronym WK (West Karkheh) because the west bank of the Karkheh River is a large region, which also includes part of Ilam province. Furthermore, the full list of sites with a KS‑number was never published.

26 Zalaghi 2014.

27 For more information about settlements patterns development in prehistoric time see, Zalaghi 2014.

28 For more information about the Proto-Elamite layers at Tall‑e Geser see Alizadeh 2014.

29 Schacht 1973, App. A‑3.

30 Dittmann 1986, Kar. 19.

31 Alden 1987. Alden in his article (1982) located seven Susa III settlements, although in another article (1987) presented eight settlements in this sector.

32 No Proto-Elamite tablet was found from the new excavations at two Proto-Elamite settlements, Abu Fanduweh and Tappeh Senjar.

33 Schacht 1973, p. 53.

34 Dittmann 1986; Dittmann 1987.

35 Steve and Gasche (1990, p. 27) believed that the settlements of Susa extended on the Ville Royale I in the late Susa III period. Alden believed that in every phase of the Susa III period Susa extend to 11 ha, not Alden, not Schacht and nobody else did systematic survey at Susa. All estimation about Susa III occupation at Susa is just based on the excavation data of this site. Although estimates of the extent of Susa III occupation at Susa requires controlled and systematic surveys, it seems the area of Susa during Susa III should be more than Alden’s estimate.

36 Carter 1971, tab. 3.

37 Sardari Zarchi 2014, p. 175.

38 Although the real size of this site is tentative, it could have been a major settlement in this period.

39 Alden 1987, fig. 41.

40 Alizadeh 2014, p. 237.

41 Alden 1982, fig. 3; Alden 1987, tab. 28.

42 Five of them were uncertain settlements.

43 Tappeh Dehno (KS 120) was an important site in this sector at the end of the third and the beginning of the second millennium BC. Schacht estimated an area of 2 ha for Tappeh Dehno during the Susa III period. New survey and excavation at Tappeh Dehno show that the first occupation dates back to the middle of the third millennium BC (Mofidi-Nasrabadi 2013), however, only a small part is excavated and there is still the possibility of finding this phase in other parts of the site.

44 Chogha Mish is one of the important sites in this sector. It is not clear whether it was occupied during the Susa III period. Delougaz and Kantor (1996) and later Alizadeh (2008, tab. 2) argued that it was settled during the Protoliterate period (Late Uruk). However, based on the ceramic parallels with Fars and Tappeh Yahya it is likely that it was settled during the Proto Elamite period as well (Mutin 2013, p. 22).

45 In his article of 2007 (Moghaddam and Miri 2007, tab. 2) KS 1670 had been introduced as a Proto-Elamite settlement with 0.8 ha, but in 2012 he provided a map of the Susa III settlements and does not mention it in his book (Moghaddam 2012, map. 4.2).

46 As no Susa III pottery is published of eastern Karun, the density of Susa III pottery in each settlement is not clear.

47 Moghaddam 2012, p. 47.

48 Alden 1987, tab. 28.

49 There are different opinions about the chronology of Susa III period. For discussion about the chronology of Susa III period see Mutin 2013, p. 7‑11 and C 14 dating see Dahl, Petrie and Potts 2013.

50 Carter 1978; Carter 1980; Alden 1987; Dittmann 1986.

51 Dahl, Petrie and Potts 2013, p. 375.

52 Dahl, Petrie and Potts 2013, p. 375.

53 Dittmann 1986, fig. 18‑20.

54 To estimate the degree of destruction of the settlements during the last decades I have compared the corona photos with the new satellite images. By this method it is easy to find out whether the settlements still exist or not. In some cases, for instance KS 560, you can see the form of the settlement by different colors that are caused by agricultural activities.

55 Alden 1987, p. 160.

56 Alden also believed that the locations of several small occupations during the Susa III period may reflect practices of animal husbandry (Alden 1987, p. 160; see also Alizadeh 2014, p. 237), although the small size of sites is not strong sufficient.

57 Moghaddam 2012.

58 Alizadeh 2014, p. 237.

59 Wright 1987, tab. 26.

60 Dahl, Petrie and Potts 2013, p. 354.

61 Alden 1982; Alden 1987.

62 Alizadeh 2014, p. 253.

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1 – Susa III/Proto-Elamite settlements in the western bank of the Karkheh river.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/8036/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 809k
Titre Fig. 2 – Susa III/Proto-Elamite settlements in Susiana plain, based on tables 1‑3.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/8036/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 864k
Titre Fig. 3 – 1: red ware (10YR 7/3), fine sand inclusion, Susa III, compared: Susa, Akropol I: 16, Le Brun 1971, fig. 62, 7; 2: buff ware (5Y 8/4), fine sand-and chaff inclusion, Susa III, compared: Susa, Akropol I: 15B, Le Brun 1971, fig. 62, 10; 3: buff ware (5Y 8/4) high chaff and low fine sand inclusion, Susa III, compared: Susa, Akropol I: 16, Le Brun 1971, fig. 61, 10.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/8036/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 114k

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

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