Excavation sheds new light  on Early Bronze Age in northwest Iran

September 6, 2021 - 19:31

TEHRAN – Fresh archaeological digs have shed new light on a long-lasting settlement in Barveh Tepe, northwest Iran, which is forecasted to date from the Early Bronze Age.

“Radiocarbon dates indicate occupation during at least the early-to-mid 3rd millennium BC or 2887–2680 cal. BC.,” according to Iranian archaeologist Mahnaz Sharifi, who led the excavations.

Barveh Tepe, situated at the Lower Zab River Basin of the Zagros mountain range, has yielded pieces of pottery famed as “Orange Ware”.

“Results of archaeological excavations show that the site is possibly the most important Early Bronze Age settlement in the region by virtue of its extent (two hectares) and the duration of occupation, as evidenced by a depth of deposit of about eight meters,” she wrote in an article published by the ResearchGate.

The settlement manifests strong parallels with other parts of northwest Iran, especially Hasanlu VIIA and Gird-i Hasan Ali.

“The ceramic assemblage primarily consists of Painted Orange Ware and exhibits highly elaborate monochrome and polychrome designs,” the archaeologist says.  

Results from the excavations show evidence of long-lasting Early Bronze Age settlement at the site. “Our information on this period in northwest Iran is quite limited.”

Hasanlu VII, or the second phase of the Early Bronze Age, is of great importance in this region, but the period has been given relatively little attention.

“We, therefore, selected Barveh Tepe for excavation to close this chronological gap in our understanding of Iranian prehistory.”

The period following the Chalcolithic in Anatolia is generally referred to as the Bronze Age. In its earlier phases, the predominant metal was pure copper, but the older term Copper Age created confusion and has been discarded. Archaeological convention divides the Bronze Age into three subphases: early, middle, and late. The beginning of the Bronze Age, in the mid-4th millennium BC, corresponds in Egypt to the predynastic period and in Mesopotamia to the early Protoliterate; it lasted until late in the second millennium. The Early Bronze Age itself is customarily divided into first, second, and third phases.

Based on a study conducted by Iranian archaeologist Hamid Fahimi, in Iranian archaeology, the grey ware pottery is still one of the most widely used attributes for demonstrating the appearance of a new tribe on the Iranian Plateau, based on the theory of a great migration in the middle of the second millennium BC.

“The first appearance and prevalence of grey and grey‑black pottery from the beginning to the end of the third millennium BC (for example in Qabrestan II), and the production of grey and grey‑black pottery is one of the main common characteristics between the internal cultures on the Iranian Plateau during the Early and Middle Bronze Age,” Fahimi says.

During the second half of the second millennium BC, permanent cultural patterns were increasingly kept out of the established existing cultures and they appeared in new forms of evolved cultures. This is the same as the cultural evolution, which occurred at the end of the 4th millennium BC and has been referred to as the appearance of the Bronze Age on the Iranian Plateau.

According to geomorphological studies and revised studies, despite the present‑day climatic situation, there were many water resources in the Central Iranian Plateau during the second millennium BC and several permanent rivers, which no longer exist today or have become seasonal rivers.


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