DFG-SPP 2176: The Iranian highlands: Resiliencies and integration in pre-modern societies

+++ Funding for Iranian researchers available +++

The Iranian-German project 'The Iranian Highlands: Resilience and Integration of Premodern Societies' is a consortium of projects geared towards the elucidation of long-term developments in the Iranian Highlands.

We invite Iranian researchers (PhD; connection with an Iranian university or research Institute) to submit proposals for projects of one year in duration that can contribute to the goals of the program.

The deadline for submission is the 25th of February, 2020. Applications should consist of a brief project description (max. 2500 words) including project goals, methods to be applied, schedule and a budget (not exceeding 4.000 Euro). Proposals must be submitted in English.

Please send the application in electronic form to the following email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The scientific board of the "Iranian Highlands" project, consisting of three Iranian and three German scholars, will review the applications and announce results by March 14, 2020.

Further information

For details of the program, please check https://iranhighlands.com/index.php/en/ or https://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/402379177?language=en

For questions, the committee of the grants program is at your disposal: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Applicant: Dr. Saman Heydari
Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI)
Kommission für Archäologie Außereuropäischer Kulturen (KAAK) Bonn
Subject Area: Prehistory
Term: since 2019
Project identifier: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) - Projekt number 423897519

Project Description

The fate of Neanderthals and their replacement by anatomically modern humans (AMH) became of greatest interest among paleoanthropologists and archaeologists. Recent palaeogenetics analyses have proved that AMH interbred with ancient humans including Neandertals and Denisovans. Genetic studies associated with Palaeolithic researches indicate that last contacts between AMH and Neanderthals have occurred in western Eurasia during Late Pleistocene (MIS 3). A recent re-dating analysis of 40 sites shows that the end of Mousterian technology and most probably the disappearance of Neanderthals are not limited to specific areas, but occurred in a period between 41–39 kya in different places across Western Eurasia. Researches also suggest that a combination of climatic changes and competitive condition with AMHs extirpated Neanderthals. A key area that was outside of modern research methods for a long time, is the Zagros Mountains. During recent years the applicant has started a project in the region of Kermanshah in the West-Central Zagros Mountains, which aims to track the transitional period between Middle (MP) to Upper Palaeolithic (UP). The new research resulted into the discovery of more than 260 caves, rockshelters and open-air sites associated with MP, UP and Epipalaeolithic occupations in an area of around 150 to 100 km. In the second phase of the research a test excavation in Bawa Yawan Rockshelter in the Kermanshah Region was conducted. Two seasons of excavation in this site resulted in: a) the discovery of a sequence of three archaeological techno-complexes namely MP, UP and Epipalaeolithic embedded in six geological horizons (GH), b) the recovery of a Neanderthal tooth, c) revealing a transitional layer with MP and UP lithic artefacts, d) a few charcoal samples around the tooth in GH5 were dated between 40 to 45 kya, indicating a late Neanderthal occupation in the area. These preliminary results in Bawa Yawan show its high potential for further research in respect of Neanderthal’s fate and replacement process by AMH population in one of the key areas in Western Asia. The proposed project will use multidisciplinary approaches including modern excavation methods, ultrafiltration AMS radiocarbon dating, U-series and OSL, site formation processes, intra-site spatial analyses, analysis of lithic artefacts and faunal. These disciplines are necessary to answer the following questions:a- How is the chronological sequence of the archaeological deposits in Bawa Yawan?b- Is the presence of MP and UP lithic artefacts in GH2 the result of using the site by two different hominin groups simultaneously or in different seasons by different populations? c- Do the GHs in Bawa Yawan fit into the continental climatic change model based on the world-wide records or was the study area affected by local climatic condition? d- Is the Neanderthal tooth a single find or are there more hominin skeletal remains waiting to be discovered in an extended excavation?