Fellow Program 2021

The Iranian-German DFG Priority Program (SPP 2176) 'The Iranian Highlands: Resilience and Integration of Premodern Societies' invites applications for a new Fellow Program in 2021. This fellowship supports short-term research visits for young researchers (early career researchers) at universities or institutions that are associated with the SPP 2176.
The SPP 2176 is an interdisciplinary research program focusing on expressions of resilience in premodern Iranian Highland communities, their environment and long-term developments in the Iranian Highlands. It is represented by 12 individual projects employing archaeology, inorganic and organic archaeometry, geo-sciences, ancient history, Near Eastern studies and linguistic research. Key research areas are: i) Landscapes and raw material regimes; ii) Daily life and institution; iii) Mobility and networks.
We invite researchers and particularly Iranian young researchers to submit proposals for the Fellow Program 2021 to carry out their own research in cooperation with a university or institution that is associated with the SPP 2176. Young researchers can apply for the funds by submitting separate applications for travel cost and research expenses. For both forms of applications (travel and research) the agreement of the respective institution is required. In addition to the fellowship, a family allowance for parents with young children can be granted. Due to the current situation the program will additionally support successful applicants in mandatory measures related to Covid-19 when necessary. The following average rates can be considered as a guideline for the Fellow Program:


Travel costs / fellows from Iran: up to € 800,-
Travel costs / fellows from Europe: up to € 500,-
Travel costs / fellows from Overseas other than Iran: up to € 1000,-
Research grants for Iranian scientists: up to € 2500,-
Family Allowance: up to € 800,-


Applications should consist of a brief project description (max. 700 words) including project goals, applied methods, a research schedule, a feasible and detailed budget plan and a commitment from the host university or institution for research and/or travel costs.
The Fellow Program supports any kind of research activity (e.g. archaeological, laboratory or archival research, museum studies, or workshop or conference contributions) but proposals have to relate to at least one of the listed key research areas; proposals must be submitted in English.
The deadline for submission is 15. November 2020. Proposals submitted after the deadline and proposals that do not meet the above listed requirements will not be considered.
Successful applicants will be notified in January 2021.


Please send your application to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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.


*** Please note that 'The Iranian Highlands' Fellow Program also includes opportunities for Senior and Junior Fellows starting in late 2021. ***

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?