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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HighStepLands. Holocene socio-cultural-environmental interactions along a highland altitudinal transect of the Zagros Mountains (Kohgiluyeh-e Boyer Ahmad Province, Southwestern Iran)

Applicant: Dr. Andrea Ricci
Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte
Subject Area: Prehistory
Ancient History
Term: since 2019
Project identifier: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) - Projekt number 424602581

Project Description

The project aims to reconstruct long-term socio-cultural-environmental dynamics and past changes in cultural landscape formation processes in the Zagros Mountains of Southwestern Iran. In particular, this study will reconstruct past human settlement dynamics and mobility patterns, as well as identify strategies of past societies to cope with and react to changing environmental and political conditions. Within the SPP, the proposed research focus speaks directly to the questions raised in the main Research Topic ST 3 "Mobility and Networks". Further, the project will make a strong contribution to the research fields "FF2: Population dynamics and settlement Systems", "FF4: Strategies of coping with distances", as well as "FF5: Mobility Patterns" with an innovative approach to investigate newly collected datasets. We plan to use a highly interdisciplinary three-pillared approach including: 1) palaeoenvironmental; 2) landscape archaeological; 3) ethno-historical studies.Located in a crucial position between the main cultural zones of Southwestern Iran, the highly mountainous Kohgiluyeh-e Boyer Ahmad Province is an ideal setting for this case study. Here, it is possible to find very diverse environmental conditions within a limited horizontal distance. The presence of unexplored palaeoenvironmental and archaeological archives, as well as ethno-historical accounts offer excellent conditions to reconstruct past human settlement and connectivity over environmentally distinct sub-regions located at different elevations. With a focus ranging from the earliest phase of the Neolithic process to the age of the empires (ca. 9000 BCE-700 CE), the present investigation will combine the results of detailed studies in three different environmental zones of the Kohgiluyeh-e Boyer Ahmad Province. In particular, this study will: a) acquire a vast and detailed Holocene palaeoenvironmental dataset from two lake sediment archives for reconstructing changes in the vegetal, soil, and water resources; b) acquire new archaeological datasets and integrate them with the existing archaeological record to reconstruct regional population dynamics; c) identify the main forms of social organizations, the modes of subsistence and patterns of mobility in this specific region as derived from the analysis of written documents and ethnographic examples; d) correlate and integrate the above-mentioned records for a detailed reconstruction of past dynamics. In a nutshell, this study aims to be a prototypical example of interdisciplinary research efforts to explore past socio-cultural-environmental interactions in a ‘marginal’ sector of the Zagros Mountains. The results of this innovative methodological approach may then be extrapolated to trace similar dynamics in other sections of the Iranian Highlands, or in other mountainous areas of southwestern Asia.