The Iranian Highlands:

Resiliences and Integration in Pre-modern Societies

A cooperation among the DFG, RICHT/ICAR and MCTH
Funded in the framework of the DFG-SPP 2176

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Becoming resilient in diaspora: The Kura-Araxes cultural tradition of Iran

Applicant: Sepideh Maziar, Ph.D.
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften
Archäologie und Kulturgeschichte des Vorderen Orients
Subject Area: Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Term: since 2019
Project identifier: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) - Projekt number 424263040

Project Description

The so-called Kura-Araxes societies were one of the early "immigrant communities" and of the longest-lived and widely distributed archaeological cultures, having spread during the late 4th millennium BC (Early Bronze Age), from South Caucasia across the Taurus and Zagros mountains, down to the southern Levant. They probably originated in an area between the Kura and Araxes rivers, in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Among the host areas, Iran has been neglected in many main inquiries, and despite scattered studies since 1945, we have just a nodding acquaintance with Kura-Araxes of this part, only based on individual case studies, and there is no comprehensive knowledge. One of the reasons of this shortcoming, left in the fact that the remains of this tradition are mostly located in the highland areas that have been assumed as insignificant periphery areas, exclusively the northwest of Iran, which even suffers from a precise chronology and solid perspective of the cultural dynamics. Considering these issues, the present project will focus on the Kura-Araxes cultural tradition as a case study for ‘highland society’, to elucidate their role in the formation of cultural, social, and economic dynamics of the 6th to the 3rd millennium in northwestern Iran and study their resilience strategies in the diaspora. I argue that within the 6th to the 3rd millennium BC, northwestern Iran went through different heterogeneous socio-economic structures and cultural process. This hypothesis needs to be explored comprehensively, which is one of the goals of this project. This project based on the interdisciplinary approaches will elucidate the resilience efforts of Kura-Araxian, and their adaption and management strategies to make the Iranian highland their home. The project follows the general research agenda of SPP 2176 and offers numerous points of contact to further projects. It will deduce models from the archaeological data, which can be transferred onto projects, which focus on migration as a phenomenon in general.Generally speaking, the following issues (points 1-4) will be addressed for our given area in the migration phase to respond to the research agenda of the SPP: (1) The network management and commodity flow (based on obsidian and metal), at the micro-level based on the material of Araxes valley project, and excavation of Tappeh Balu. (2) Provide a data set of the material culture of the Kura Araxes cultural tradition of Tappeh Balu and Araxes Valley project and put them in a broader context of northwest Iran to find out the characteristics of a highland migrant community in diaspora. (3) The project creates a new chronological table for northwest Iran based on the new 14C dating.(4) The project will provide insights regarding subsistence economy, and animal management, diet and mobility, and management of resources through multidisciplinary analyses by the study of faunal and floral remains.