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The Iranian Plateau during the Bronze Age

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

Urbanisation in Eastern Iran

Regional patterns of Early Bronze Age urbanization in the southeastern Iran

New discoveries on the western fringe of Dasht‑e Lut

Nasir Eskandari

Résumé

L’âge du Bronze ancien a été une période cruciale dans le développement culturel du sud-est de l’Iran. Au cours de cette période, d’importants changements socio-culturels se sont produits et ils ont engendré une urbanisation précoce dans cette partie du plateau iranien. Les recherches antérieures sur de grands centres urbains, Shahr‑i Sokhta, Shahdad et la région de la ville moderne de Jiroft dans la vallée de la rivière Halil, ont montré qu’un essor urbain a émergé dans le sud-est de l’Iran. Il est bien amorcé au second quart du IIIe millénaire av. J.-C., et décroît ensuite. Les travaux archéologiques récents menés sur la bordure occidentale du Désert de Lut (Dasht‑e Lut) ont apporté de nouvelles et précieuses informations sur cette première phase d’urbanisation dans le sud-est de l’Iran. Grâce à ces travaux, la distribution des sites de la plaine de Shahdad datés de l’âge du Bonze a été déterminée, ce qui nous permet de contextualiser le site urbain de Shahdad qui a déjà fait l’objet d’études. De plus, lors des dernières prospections, deux autres grands centres du IIIe millénaire av. J.-C., Mokhtarabad et Keshit, ont été identifiés dans l’ouest du Dasht‑e Lut. Cet article présente les découvertes des prospections récentes de la région du Lut et aborde le paysage urbain du Dasht‑e Lut au IIIe millénaire av. J.-C. d’un point de vue spatial. Il présente également quelques réflexions sur l’urbanisation à l’âge du Bronze ancien dans le sud-est de l’Iran, fondées sur les nouvelles données du Dasht‑e Lut.

Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 Redman 1978, p. 215.

1The origins, development and the collapse of early urban societies have long been a favorite subject matter in Near Eastern archaeology. Today, the assumption that the idea of urbanism diffused from southern Mesopotamia is questioned because ample evidence increasingly illustrates that in addition to southern Mesopotamia, many urban centers in northern Mesopotamia, Indus and southern Iran Valley existed at the same time – Early Bronze Age. Each of these had their own cultural character and their own trajectory of development. However, there are some debatable considerations on the definition of early cities and urbanization in the mentioned areas. In other words, one can criticize the studies on early urbanization of Near Eastern Archaeology because most of research that has engaged with urbanization in this region has not adequately defined what they mean by “urban” or “city” and as a result a variety of types of ancient sites in this area have been called “cities”. This lack of definition has given rise to a vague and diverse understanding of urbanization in Near Eastern archaeology. Sometimes the term “city” is used instead of “urbanism”, even though a difference between them, was established long ago by Charles Redman1 who noted that “Urbanism implies the characteristics that distinguish cities from simpler community form; it also refers to the organization of an entire urban society, which includes not only cities, but also towns and villages. A city, on the other hand, is the physical center manifesting many important characteristics of urban condition”.

  • 2 On the western edge of Lut Desert the Early Bronze Age spatial pattern is completely different fro (...)

2In attempting to move toward a definition, in light of our present knowledge, it is difficult to characterize in detail the process of Early Bronze Age (hereafter; EBA) urbanization in southeastern Iran because compared to other centers of the Near East, it is still very poorly known. General speaking, the EBA urbanization of southeastern Iran can be approached through our increasing knowledge of large and densely populated centers, an increased understanding of the patterns of occupation surrounding these centers2, socio-economic stratification, long distance trade, craft specialization and an emergence of managerial agencies. However, in order for us to have an understanding of the character of SE Iran urbanization, more archaeological and survey investigations are urgently required. We first knew of southeastern Iran EBA cities from excavations at Shahr‑i Sokhta and Shahdad in 1970s. The third major urban center of SE Iran – Jiroft (Konar Sandal South) – has been identified in last decade. These centers are located, respectively, in Sistan plain, west fringe of Dasht‑e Lut and Jiroft plain in Halil River valley (fig. 1). In this article, I will present new information that comes from recent work in the Dasht‑e Lut.

Fig. 1 – Map showing the location of the main Bronze Age excavated sites of southeastern Iran.

Fig. 1 – Map showing the location of the main Bronze Age excavated sites of southeastern Iran.

An overview of the known urban centers of SE Iran

Helmand River basin: Shahr‑i Sokhta

  • 3 Tosi 1969; Tosi 1986; Tosi and Piperno 1975; Salvatori and Tosi 2005.
  • 4 Sajjadi 2006; Sajjadi 2003; Sajjadi, Costantini and Lorentz 2008.

3Shahr‑i Sokhta “Burnt City” is located in Sistan plain of the southeastern part of Iranian Plateau, close to the Afghanistan and Pakistan borders. At its greatest expanse the site was over 150 hectares making it the largest city at the dawn of the urban era in the Helmand Basin. The site was discovered by Stein in the early 1900s. Beginning in 1967, the site was excavated by an Italian mission under supervision of Maurizio Tosi3 who continued his work until 1978. After a gap, work at the site was resumed in 1997 by an Iranian team under the direction of Mansour Sajjadi4. The excavations have partly revealed the layout and organization of the urban center of Shahr‑i Sokhta. Like the Italian mission, the ongoing work of Sajjadi has been concentrated in three main parts of the site: cemetery in the southwestern part of the site, residential area in the eastern and northeastern parts and craftsmen’s area in the north. The cultural sequence of Shahr‑i Sokhta is a continuous development, subdivided in four periods, which begins in the late 4th millennium until the abandonment of the city at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. Earliest occupation of the site, Period I, is contemporary with the Proto-Elamite culture of the late fourth millennium. In the two following periods – periods II and III are attributed to early to late 3rd millennium BC – when Shahr‑i Sokhta was a well-organized large urban center comprised of administrative and public buildings; an artisan’s quarter for various specialized craft activities including copper, lapis lazuli, turquoise, alabaster and flint; residential areas; and a vast graveyard. Period IV, at the very end of the third millennium, Shahr‑i Sokhta shrunk to a small village of about 5 ha in response to a drastic climate change and shift in the course of the Helmand River before it be abandoned in the initial of 2nd millennium BC.

Halil River basin: Jiroft

  • 5 See Madjidzadeh 2003.
  • 6 Madjidzadeh 2008.
  • 7 Madjidzadeh 2008.
  • 8 Pittman 2008; Pittman 2012.
  • 9 Madjidzadeh 2012.
  • 10 A piece of an inscribed brick and 3 tablets were discovered in Jiroft. Tablets of Jiroft with Line (...)
  • 11 Madjidzadeh 2008.

4Following massive illegal looting of Bronze Age cemeteries of Halil River valley in 2000, a hitherto unknown archaeological culture came into light in the Near East. As a result of the vast looting at a dozen of cemeteries, thousands of burial goods, in particular distinctively carved chlorite vessels, were plundered5. The main plundering seems to have occurred in a zone between 20 to 50 km south of the modern city of Jiroft. Various burial goods such as metal and elaborate semi-precious stone objects are also attested among the looted material indicating the existence during the Early Bronze Age of a sizable craft production in the Halil River basin. After looting was halted in 2001, archaeological research began led by Youssef Madjidzadeh6 at Konar Sandal South, Konar Sandal North, Ghalleh Kouchak and the cemetery of Mahtoutabad. Excavations at Konar Sandal South have revealed the character of an EBA large mud-brick Citadel which was surrounded by a massive defensive wall in the center of a large lower town. Although there is still much to learn about this center, the results are clear testimony to the power, wealth and social stratification of this urban center. According to radiocarbon dates that come from well-controlled contexts at the site of Konar Sandal South, an absolute range between 2880 and 2140 BC is proposed for the Konar Sandal South7. The relative dating offered by the glyptic evidence from KSS also confirms these radiocarbon dates8. Another significant achievement of Jiroft excavations is the appearance of a new writing system9. We can therefore hope that the eventual decipherment of the writing system of Jiroft will enable us to explore the ethnic and historical character of this urban center of southeastern Iran10. According to Madjidzadeh, Jiroft was certainly a center of an urban character in the 3rd millennium BC of southeastern Iran that can be compared with previously known sites of the region such as Tepe Yahya, Bampur, Shahdad and Tal-I Iblis11.

Dasht‑e Lut: Shahdad

  • 12 Hakemi 1997.
  • 13 Salvatori and Vidale 1982; Hakemi 1997.
  • 14 Kaboli 1997.

5Another important urban center of southeastern Iran is the site of Shahdad, in Shahdad Plain of Kerman province. The Shahdad Plain is located between eastern flank of Kerman mountains and the western fringes of (Paleo-Lake) Lut Desert to the east. Due to proximity of the Shahdad Plain to the Lut Desert, its climate is hot and dry, experiencing extreme winds that are densely mixed with dust. The site of Shahdad is located at the base of an alluvial fan where it was in antiquity surrounded by the Shahdad River and a number of streams flowing east from their origin in the western mountains. From a geomorphological point of view, the site of Shahdad was founded on the base of the alluvial fan of Shahdad where thick alluvial layers are cut by wind and water erosions into yardangs (Kalut is the local name of yardang). It is worth mentioning that the Kaluts are scattered to the east of the modern city of Shahdad for about 5 km in a region which the prehistoric sites have been identified. In 1968, during a general geographical reconnaissance of the Lut depression, the Early Bronze Age site of Shahdad was identified. Excavations lead by Ali Hakemi of the Archaeological Service of Iran began in the following year and continued until 197812. The work concentered on a necropolis in which 383 graves were cleared including many with spectacular grave goods, including impressive human statuettes, elaborate metal objects such as a bronze standard, numerous stone and ceramic containers and ornamental finds. Hakemi also did some excavations in the east of the site, Operation D, which he identified as an industrial area of the urban center of Shahdad. Overall, excavations in necropolis and industrial area provided evidence for local craft activities and cross-regional contact. In 1977, a five-day survey across the site of Shahdad and its surroundings was undertaken with the collaboration of an Italian team which identified 37 points for sampling using aerial photographs13. In 1978, archaeological research program of Shahdad was suspended for a decade and a half. Excavations at Shahdad site resumed under direction of Mr. Kaboli for four seasons in 1990s14. The work of Kaboli was concentrated in the residential areas of the site. His work in the northern part of the site uncovered two architectural complexes. One of them located 800 m north of the cemetery A has been named the farmers’s area (fig. 2) and 300 m to the east, second complex named the jewelers’s area was identified. These two complexes of residential area and craft production greatly increase our understanding of the layout of the Bronze Age urban center of Shahdad that was previously only known through its necropolis. Despite several seasons of excavations at the site of Shahdad, no comprehensive survey has been undertaken on the western edge of Lut, or even on the Shahdad Plain. This lack of information concerning the catchment of the urban center of Shahdad along with the lack of stratified occupational sequence or secure chronology for the periods before the Bronze Age in Shahdad Plain has frustrated our understanding of the developmental origins of the urbanization of the Lut area. It was to address this lacunae that I undertook the current Shahdad project.

Fig. 2 – Third millennium BC Site of Shahdad, farmers’s area excavated area by Kaboli.

Fig. 2 – Third millennium BC Site of Shahdad, farmers’s area excavated area by Kaboli.

Recent Dasht‑e Lut project: two newly identified large urban centers

  • 15 Eskandari 2012.

6As mentioned above, a dozen seasons of fieldwork have already been carried out in Lut area, which brought to light valuable information on a significant early urban center of the Early Bronze Age Near East. After one decade and half, investigations in Lut area were undertaken by the author with the financial support of ICHTO of Kerman. The goal of this work was to investigate the prehistoric archaeology of the Lut area to sharpen our understanding of archaeological potential of this area. The project was structured around three main research agendas: an extensive archaeological survey along the western edge of Lut, and the stratigraphic excavations of two prehistoric multi-period sites. In late 2011 and early 2012, a reconnaissance survey was conducted along the western edge of the Lut Desert (Shahdad area) with the aim of mapping regional settlement patterns and change over time. Eighty-seven ancient sites were identified, the earliest one dates to the fifth millennium BC and the latest one dates to the late Islamic era15. Among them twelve sites can be attributed to the 3rd millennium BC (fig. 3). The survey area covers the area between the eastern foot of the Kerman Range Mountains on the west and the Desert of Lut to the east. The survey area, at its extremities, encompassed an approximate area of 100 km north-south and 40 km west-east. Our main objectives were to identify the settlement patterns of the region, and to investigate the human-environment interactions during prehistoric times in a region where previous excavations had documented the existence of a Bronze Age urban center. During the survey, two large Early Bronze Age sites – Keshit and Mokhtarabad – were identified for the first time. The ceramics collected during the surface survey at the sites of Keshit and Mokhtarabad showed that they can be regarded as 3rd millennium BC urban centers, however, much more fieldwork investigations are required to confirm this claim. In the below, they are introduced as following:

Fig. 3 – The distribution pattern of Early Bronze Age sites on the west of Lut Desert.

Fig. 3 – The distribution pattern of Early Bronze Age sites on the west of Lut Desert.

Keshit

  • 16 Eskandari et al. 2014.

7The site of Keshit is located 65 km to the south of modern city of Shahdad. The site named after the nearby village of Keshit which lies about 10 km to the south of site. Since Keshit is located only 3 km to the west of the Desert of Lut, it is covered with sand. Preliminary surface survey shows that it was a large site of around 1600 m×1300 m, or ca. 200 ha (fig. 4). Archaeological materials – predominantly pottery sherds – are scattered across the surface of the site at high densities (fig. 5). Based on the ceramic typologies, the site can be attributed to the fourth and third millennia BC; there is no evidence for subsequent occupation16. Based on surface materials, the main occupation of the site belongs to 3rd millennium BC, only less than 5 ha can be attributed to 4th millennium BC. Based on the dense and contiguous scatter of surface materials, it seems that the site was occupied across the full extent of the scatter during the Early Bronze Age. Pottery is the most abundant find, but other surface materials at the site include fragments of marble vessels, bronze objects, lithic tools and semi-precious stones such as agate. In the north-western part of the site, slag and pottery wasters collected from the surface may indicate the location of the industrial quarter of the site (fig. 6). More generally, there are many mounds across the site standing several meters higher than their surroundings that probably preserve architectural remains. The collected ceramics are comparable to assemblages from Shahdad and Tal‑i Iblis (fig. 7). Morphologically, Keshit appears to be similar to Shahdad, the other Early Bronze Age site on the western fringes of the Lut Desert. Further fieldwork programs will investigate the overall city layout. Overall, it seems that the site of Keshit was a large 3rd millennium BC urban center in southwestern part of Lut Desert.

Fig. 4 – General view of the surface of the large site of Keshit.

Fig. 4 – General view of the surface of the large site of Keshit.

Fig. 5 – Density of cultural materials on the surface of Keshit site.

Fig. 5 – Density of cultural materials on the surface of Keshit site.

Fig. 6 – Some of the industrial kilns on the surface of Keshit.

Fig. 6 – Some of the industrial kilns on the surface of Keshit.

Fig. 7 – The drawings of the surface collected ceramics of Keshit.

Fig. 7 – The drawings of the surface collected ceramics of Keshit.

Mokhtarabad

8The site of Mokhtarabad situated between the sites of Shahdad and Keshit on the western fringe of Dasht‑e Lut, 15 km to the south of Shahdad and 50 km to the north of Keshit. The site is located 1 km to the west of modern village of Mokhtarabad, on the northern bank of a river that originated from western mountains of Andohjerd. Like site of Keshit, it is also extensively covered with sand. Surface ceramics indicate that the site was occupied during the 4th and 3rd millennia BC. Dispersal of surface materials suggests that the site was approximately 70 hectares; 1000 m north-south and 700 m west-east (fig. 8). Scattered ceramics across the surface of the site, and are particularly dense in the western part of the site (fig. 9). The dense and contiguous scatter of surface materials shows that most probably the site was occupied across the full extent of the scatter. The collected ceramics indicate that the site can be assigned to the fourth and third millennia BC (fig. 10); there is no evidence for subsequent occupation. Except less than 3 ha in eastern part, the site was occupied in 3rd millennium BC. There are several mounds across the site, especially in western part, which stand several meters higher than their surroundings suggesting the presence of architectural remains. By doing an intensive surface walking survey, we could identify a cemetery in the southeastern part of the site. In fact, because of the wind erosion some of burials are visible on the surface (fig. 11). The exposure of the graves on the surface, which would have originally been at least one or two meters below the level of the site, indicates that there has been extensive deflation of cultural deposits due to extreme wind erosion. Generally, we can say this urban center is a smaller version of two other large EBA sites of Shahdad and Keshit that is placed between them.

Fig. 8 – General view of the surface of Mokhtarabad site.

Fig. 8 – General view of the surface of Mokhtarabad site.

Fig. 9 – Density of cultural materials on the surface of the Mokhtarabad.

Fig. 9 – Density of cultural materials on the surface of the Mokhtarabad.

Fig. 10 – The drawings of the Mokhtarabad’s surface collected ceramics.

Fig. 10 – The drawings of the Mokhtarabad’s surface collected ceramics.

Fig. 11 – The graves on the surface of Mokhtarabad attesting the extreme wind erosion in the Lut area.

Fig. 11 – The graves on the surface of Mokhtarabad attesting the extreme wind erosion in the Lut area.

Spatial perspectives on urban landscape of Dasht‑e Lut

  • 17 The prehistoric sites have been had a horizontal growth in Dasht‑e Lut. There is no Tell Site at S (...)
  • 18 This information comes from the unpublished results of 2006 and 2007 reconnaissance surveys of Mr. (...)
  • 19 This information comes from a series of ICHTO’s reconnaissance surveys in Halil Valley that are re (...)

9Recent reconnaissance survey along the western edge of Dasht‑e Lut indicated that in addition to the three large urban centers of Shahdad, Keshit and Mokhtarabad, nine other sites can be attributed to Early Bronze Age in this region. It must be mentioned that each of those large sites of Lut area includes many mounds which are collectively considered as one large site. In the middle portion of western edge of Lut, known as the Shahdad Plain, all of the Bronze Age sites including the urban center of Shahdad (over 200 ha) and its peripherial sites were distributed at the base of the alluvial fan of Shahdad. These peripherial sites are small and range in size from half a hectare to 3 hectares17. What stands out in terms of site distribution is that all of these small sites are concentrated to the east of the urban site of Shahdad at a distance ranging from 300 m to 4 km to the east (fig. 12). It seems that these were satellite sites for the urban center of Shahdad. Overall, from point of view of spatial patterning, there are 12 Bronze Age site along the Dasht‑e Lut including three large urban centers of which two of them, Mokhtarabad and Keshit were respectively situated 15 and 65 km south of the site of Shahdad. Neither of these sites appear to have satellite sites. Dasht‑e Lut definitely has a very interesting and unexpected pattern of site distribution which is unusual by Near Eastern standards. To judge from these results, the Bronze Age settlement pattern of Dasht‑e Lut is completely different from two other contemporaneous urban landscape of southeastern Iran. In the Sistan plain there is only one large urban center – Shahr‑i Sokhta – with numerous smaller satellite sites18. This same pattern can be observed for Konar Sandal in Jiroft plain19. These results suggest that both ecological factors and the natural landscape had a major influence in generating this distinctive spatial pattern of settlement in the western part of Dasht‑e Lut. It is important to observe, however, that the functional basis was also a main factor. In the western part of the Lut, the water sources did not pass the across the entire length of the plain, in fact there are some water sources that originated in the western mountains and after passing through the narrow width of the plain ended in the oasis that was the Lut Desert. Thus there was not enough available water to develop agricultural lands along the whole extent of the western edge of Lut Desert. Therefore it is obvious that the ecological factors seem to have been played a fundamental role in determining this unusual settlement pattern. Indeed, this spatial pattern – distribution of the large Bronze Age urban centers without satellite sites – seems to be an adaptive strategy responding to the natural landscape of Lut area. After considering the location of these three urban centers along the natural corridor of western edge of Dasht‑e Lut and the distances separating them, it seems reasonable to suggest that their strategic position permitted them to control the trade networks. In fact, they should belong to an unbroken chain of caravan trading stations that could control the movements of goods and raw materials in 3rd millennium BC. This north-south western corridor of Dasht‑e Lut even today is the main transit route for connecting southeastern of Iran (in particular Kerman and Hormozgan Provinces) to Great Khorasan. In addition, this route is known as opium route along which illegally imported opium is transported from southeastern Iran borderlands (Pakistan and Afghanistan borders) to Khorasan area. Hence, it seems that location along a transportation route was probably a very strong factor determining the spatial organization of the sites during the Bronze Age in the Dasht‑e Lut.

Fig. 12 – Delimitation of the urban center of Shahdad and its contemporaneous small surrounding occupations at the end of the alluvial fan of Shahdad (CORONA Image).

Fig. 12 – Delimitation of the urban center of Shahdad and its contemporaneous small surrounding occupations at the end of the alluvial fan of Shahdad (CORONA Image).

Southeastern Iran urbanization: new views from Dasht‑e Lut

  • 20 The Aliabad culture which is firstly documented in the excavations of Tal-I Iblis, Iblis IV period (...)
  • 21 Mutin 2013.

10Alongside the previously discovered urban centers of southeastern Iran, the discovery of two additional large urban centers on the western edge of Lut Desert point to the scale and organization of urbanization during the third millennium BC. In fact, new views and information from Dasht‑e Lut provide an opportunity to take a step forward toward a better understanding of the early urbanization of this part of the Iranian Plateau. Broadly, two main factors seem to be associated with the development of urbanization in this region: first, the role of the natural environment and, specifically, the fertile alluvial plain and availability of permanent water in the Halil River valley and Helmand Basin; second, the strategic geopolitical location of southeastern Iran, connecting the west and east of South-West Asia, which allowed for the sites in the region to play a significant role in ancient trade and communication. We can say that the EBA urban centers on the SE of Iranian Plateau, including Shahr‑i Sokhta, Jiroft, Shahdad, Mokhtarabad and Keshit, were linked through a trade network that has been played an important role in the connecting Indus Valley, Central Asia, the Southern part of the Persian Gulf, South-West of Iran and Mesopotamia. Indeed, one can logically consider this area to have been at the heart of an extensive trade network across Southwestern Asia during the third millennium BC. Understanding the origins and nature of urbanization in southeastern Iran is difficult because the character and complexity of the preceding periods have not yet been fully investigated. What we know is that during mid to late fourth millennium BC there was an integrated culture named Aliabad culture20 which prospered in southeastern Iran extending over a large area from west of Kerman to the most eastern lands of Iran, even Pakistan21 to the east. The excavations at Tepe Dehno as the second part of recent Dasht‑e Lut project showed the context of 4th millennium BC within the region. This site is a 20 ha mid‑late 4th millennium (Aliabad culture) center. Its presence demonstrates that the major Dasht‑e Lut urban centres grew up in a region where population was already dense. Although the Aliabad culture is still poorly known, I assume that gradual local dynamic cultural changes began in this period and set the stage for establishment of the first cities in this region in the 3rd millennium BC. I postulate that the roots of southeastern Iran urbanization must be sought in the Aliabad culture. Meaningfully, all the EBA urban centers of Kerman including Konar Sandal South (Jiroft), Shahdad, and even two new found sites of Keshit and Mokhtarabad are located near important Aliabad sites. The work has demonstrated that the urban centers of the Dasht‑e Lut are different in term of site formation and settlement patterns from the two other urban landscapes Sistan and Jiroft of the SE Iran. Hence, the new information from Dasht‑e Lut shows the increasingly regional variations within SE Iran with regard to patterns of urbanization and they demonstrate that we must accommodate multiple models for the EBA cities of region. Finally, recent surveys revealed no pastoral sites from either the Chalcolithic or the Bronze Age in the mountainous part of the Dasht‑e Lut area. This allows us to think that that role of the pastoral societies was minimal in the rise and development of southeastern Iran urbanization.

Concluding remarks

11With the addition of two new 3rd millennium BC large urban centers on the western fringes of Dasht‑e Lut, we can now appreciate the rich potential of this part of Near East for the study of early urbanization. Broadly, it also demonstrates the potential importance of southeastern Iran for future studies on urbanization in the South-West Asia. On the basis of the results of my survey to the west of the Lut Desert, I suggest that it is highly probable that further extensive archaeological survey across southeastern Iran will lead to the discovery of further third millennium BC urban centers.

Future directions

12The southeastern Iran urbanization is the least well known of the early urban civilizations of Near East and further attention of scholars is urgently required. In this case the following directions can be helpful for further investigations: first of all we need a series of regional extensive and intensive surveys in southeastern Iran to determine accurately the pattern of urban settlement in the region. In addition, much more horizontal excavation at the known urban centers is needed to characterize the traits of the southeastern Iran civilizations. Furthermore, in order to seeking the roots and the nature of SE urbanization much more fieldwork investigations are required for the 4th millennium BC societies of the region to identify the main traits that set the stage for rise of urbanization in SE Iran during the Early Bronze Age.

Acknowledgments

13I would like to thank the ICHTO of Kerman and ICAR. Without their support, the Shahdad archaeological project would not have been completed. I want to express my thanks to the Shahdad project field staff that helped me in the field. I am also thankful to the editors of this volume for their kind invitation. I am grateful to Professor Holly Pittman for her thoughtful comments and editing work. Needless to say, all remaining errors are my own.

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Sajjadi S.M.S. 2006, Excavations at Shahr‑i Sokhta, Center for archaeological research, Tehran (in Persian, English, French, Italian, German and Russian).

Sajjadi S.M.S., Casanova M., Costantini L. and Lorenz K.O. 2008, “Sistan and Baluchistan Project: Short Reports on the Tenth Campaign of Excavations at Shahr‑i Sokhta”, Iran 46, p. 307‑337.

Soleimani N., Shafie M., Eskandari N. and Molasalehi H. 2016, “Khaje Askar: A Fourth Millennium BC Cemetery in Bam, Southeastern Iran”, Journal of Iranica Antiqua 51, p. 57‑84.

Tosi M. 1969, “Excavations at Shahr‑i Sokhta. Preliminary report on the second campaign”, East and West 19, p. 109‑22.

Tosi M. 1986, “The Archaeology of Early States in Middle Asia”, Oriens Antiquus 25, p. 153‑187.

Tosi M. and Piperno M. 1975, “The Graveyard of Sahr‑e Suxteh (A Presentation of the 1972 and 1973 Campaigns)”, in F. Bagherzadeh (ed.), Proceedings of the 3rd Annual Symposium on Archaeological Research in Iran, Iranian Center for Archaeological Research, Tehran, p. 121‑140.

Notes

1 Redman 1978, p. 215.

2 On the western edge of Lut Desert the Early Bronze Age spatial pattern is completely different from Helmand and Halil River basins. Contrary to the Halil and Helmand areas that urban centers are contributed to grassroots increase of satellite sites, on the western edge of Lut Desert large urban centers are characterized with the scanty of surrounding occupations. In the further below, these two different spatial patterns will be discussed.

3 Tosi 1969; Tosi 1986; Tosi and Piperno 1975; Salvatori and Tosi 2005.

4 Sajjadi 2006; Sajjadi 2003; Sajjadi, Costantini and Lorentz 2008.

5 See Madjidzadeh 2003.

6 Madjidzadeh 2008.

7 Madjidzadeh 2008.

8 Pittman 2008; Pittman 2012.

9 Madjidzadeh 2012.

10 A piece of an inscribed brick and 3 tablets were discovered in Jiroft. Tablets of Jiroft with Linear Elamite inscription similar to those of Puzur-Inshushinak from Susa. Jiroft writing system is regarded as the origins of Linear Elamite writing system by Madjidzadeh.

11 Madjidzadeh 2008.

12 Hakemi 1997.

13 Salvatori and Vidale 1982; Hakemi 1997.

14 Kaboli 1997.

15 Eskandari 2012.

16 Eskandari et al. 2014.

17 The prehistoric sites have been had a horizontal growth in Dasht‑e Lut. There is no Tell Site at Shahdad Plain. Without doubt environmental features caused to settlement didn’t build up to form tells because normally in past the places clearly have become meaningful so that it becomes important to rebuild exactly in the same place, not merely nearby. Previous excavations at site of Shahdad as well as recent excavations of the author at two sites in the region showed that prehistoric cultural deposits are less than 1m thick. I assume that extreme wind erosion must be one of the main reasons why there is such deflation of the cultural deposits. Although, here the sites have a horizontal growth but it may not be that there was no depositional build-up over time, but rather that there was constant deflation leaving deposits less than 1 m thick.

18 This information comes from the unpublished results of 2006 and 2007 reconnaissance surveys of Mr. Mousavi Haji and Mr. Mehrafarin in Sistan plain which are prepared in 29 volumes for ICAR and ICHTO.

19 This information comes from a series of ICHTO’s reconnaissance surveys in Halil Valley that are remained still unpublished, it is important to note that although several regional surveys have been done in Halil River valley, but the area was not fully surveyed. Therefore there is still the possibility of the existence of more large EBA sites in the region.

20 The Aliabad culture which is firstly documented in the excavations of Tal-I Iblis, Iblis IV period, probably started in the first half of the fourth millennium BC and continued to the late of that millennium, and is characterized by fine painted buff ware and metallurgically craft specialization (See Caldwell 1967) as well as the cemeteries which are separated from the occupational settlements (See Soleimani et al. 2016).

21 Mutin 2013.

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1 – Map showing the location of the main Bronze Age excavated sites of southeastern Iran.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/8111/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 929k
Titre Fig. 2 – Third millennium BC Site of Shahdad, farmers’s area excavated area by Kaboli.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/8111/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 809k
Titre Fig. 3 – The distribution pattern of Early Bronze Age sites on the west of Lut Desert.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/8111/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 967k
Titre Fig. 4 – General view of the surface of the large site of Keshit.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/8111/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 734k
Titre Fig. 5 – Density of cultural materials on the surface of Keshit site.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/8111/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 836k
Titre Fig. 6 – Some of the industrial kilns on the surface of Keshit.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/8111/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 3,4M
Titre Fig. 7 – The drawings of the surface collected ceramics of Keshit.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/8111/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 484k
Titre Fig. 8 – General view of the surface of Mokhtarabad site.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/8111/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 725k
Titre Fig. 9 – Density of cultural materials on the surface of the Mokhtarabad.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/8111/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 833k
Titre Fig. 10 – The drawings of the Mokhtarabad’s surface collected ceramics.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/8111/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 736k
Titre Fig. 11 – The graves on the surface of Mokhtarabad attesting the extreme wind erosion in the Lut area.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/8111/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 867k
Titre Fig. 12 – Delimitation of the urban center of Shahdad and its contemporaneous small surrounding occupations at the end of the alluvial fan of Shahdad (CORONA Image).
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/8111/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 726k

Auteur

University of Jiroft, Iran and UMR 5133-Archéorient, Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée, 7 rue Raulin, 69007 Lyon

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