Tepe Gariran: the story of a Bronze Age civilization

January 17, 2023 - 22:32

TEHRAN – Tepe Gariran in western Iran was surveyed in 1931 by renowned British archaeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein (1862–1943), along with several other sites all over the ancient continent.

His discoveries and views were made public in a book titled “Old Routes of Western Iran: Narratives of an Archaeological Journey” which was released in November 1969.

Situated in the county of Alashtar, this prominent valley plain is part of the central Zagros mountain range.

The mount, however, after over 80 years in 2017, dragged the attention of new generations of archeologists to resume excavations at the site, which is most notable for being home to a Bronze-Age civilization.

Iranian Indo-Europeans, including the Medes, settled in Lorestan around that time in 1,000 BC. Between approximately 700 and 625 BC, the Cimmerians and Scythians alternately ruled the area.

According to an essay discussed during an International Conference of the Society of Iranian Archaeology, excavations of Gariran, as a great Bronze Age site, which covers more than five hectares, revealed continuity from middle-late Chalcolithic to Iron Age.

The identification of settlement patterns can provide important information about regional and cross-regional communications in this area.

Due to its exceptional position and the importance of its sites, this plain has been the subject of the growing attention of ancient geographers and geologists.

In the Parthian and Sassanid texts, there has been no reference to the city and plains of Alashtar, but the historians from the early centuries to the contemporary Islamic era have mentioned the name Alashtar in their books.

From an archeological point of view, in 1936, Sir Aurel Stein entered Alashtar to study the settlement sites and the cemeteries introducing Lorestan bronze, which were located across the Karkheh and Seymareh River. He then started examining Gariran and Betki Hills.

Ernst Herzfeld was also among the researchers who investigated the bronzes in Lorestan and visited the relics and artifacts in the Alashtar Plain (Herzfeld, 1941). In his studies from 1963 to 1967, Clare Goff visited some parts of Alashtar as well.

In total, 72 archaeological sites were found in the Alashtar plain, 42 of which were from the Parthian era, given the dispersion of artifacts in the area (including pottery and surface material).

Alashtar is a fertile plain with great potential for agriculture. Even though the majority of these sites have been destroyed today due to agricultural activities, the Parthian period (compared to other eras) played a significant role in the development of settlements on this plain. The majority of the Parthian sites in this plain were situated inside these fertile agricultural lands.

The surrounding mountains are covered in forest trees and wild plants, and there is a variety of flora and fauna on the plain.

Due to the favorable climatic and ecological conditions, a variety of crops and trees can now be found in the area as a result of the fertile nature of this plain that has encouraged the cultivation of crops and vegetation.

The region is rich in sycamore, cherry, cranberry, walnut, apple, grape, willow, poplar, pear, and other trees. In addition to forest trees, non-edible plants like salsify, artichokes, oregano, and mint as well as a variety of medicinal and aromatic plants like borage, daphnia, thyme, basil flowers, violet, damask rose, rose, anemone, musk willow, tulips, licorice, lily, hibiscus flowers, narcissus, and mountain tea grow.

The obvious conclusion from this is that since the Iron Age, the environment and climate of Lorestan have not fundamentally changed.


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