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A Preliminary Analysis of Prehistoric Pottery from Carleton Coon's Excavations of Hotu and Belt Caves in Northern Iran: Implications for Future Research into the Emergence of Village Life in Western Central Asia

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This paper presents reconstructed excavation plans and stratigraphic profiles of the 1949 and 1951 excavations of Hotu and Belt Caves (Ghar-e Hotu and Ghar-e Kamarband) in northern Iran based on examination of Carleton Coon's unpublished field notes and drawings in the University of Pennsylvania Museum, Harvard University and Smithsonian Institution archives. Recalculated and calibrated radiocarbon dates of early Mesolithic to post-Achaemenid period occupations of these caves are also presented in the context of cultural horizons or stratigraphic units from which assays were supposedly obtained. However, inconsistencies in the methods used in the recovery and recording of discoveries at both Hotu and Belt Caves (combined with the wide range of statistical variability associated with early 'conventional' radiocarbon dating techniques) prevent a high-resolution occupational sequence from being developed, and inferences on trajectories of cultural influence from being conclusively drawn. These uncertainties underline the pressing need for further fieldwork aimed at uncovering the natural and cultural processes giving rise to the emergence of village life in western Central Asia following the last Ice Age.
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Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3): (56-94)
A Preliminary Analysis of Prehistoric Pottery from
Carleton Coon’s Excavations of Hotu and Belt Caves in
Northern Iran: Implications for Future Research into the
Emergence of Village Life in Western Central Asia
Michael W. Gregg1,
Christopher P. Thornton2
Received: 2011/10/25 Accepted: 2011/12/26
Abstract
This paper presents reconstructed excavation plans and stratigraphic profiles of the 1949
and 1951 excavations of Hotu and Belt Caves (Ghar-e Hotu and Ghar-e Kamarband) in
northern Iran based on examination of Carleton Coon’s unpublished field notes and
drawings in the University of Pennsylvania Museum, Harvard University and Smithsonian
Institution archives. Recalculated and calibrated radiocarbon dates of early Mesolithic to
post-Achaemenid period occupations of these caves are also presented in the context of
cultural horizons or stratigraphic units from which assays were supposedly obtained.
However, inconsistencies in the methods used in the recovery and recording of discoveries at
both Hotu and Belt Caves (combined with the wide range of statistical variability associated
with early ‘conventional’ radiocarbon dating techniques) prevent a high-resolution
occupational sequence from being developed, and inferences on trajectories of cultural
influence from being conclusively drawn. These uncertainties underline the pressing need for
further fieldwork aimed at uncovering the natural and cultural processes giving rise to the
emergence of village life in western Central Asia following the last Ice Age.
Keywords: Belt Cave, Hotu Cave, Late Pleistocene, Early Holocene, Mesolithic, Neolithic,
Caspian Soft Wares, Cheshmeh Ali Wares, Radiocarbon Dating.
1. Research Fellow in Archaeological Science, School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University Consulting
Scholar, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania.
2 . Program Officer, Committee for Research and Exploration, National Geographic Society Consulting Scholar, Museum of
Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania.
M. W. Gregg, C. P. Thornton Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3)
57
Introduction
Researchers have long been interested in
mapping the prehistoric human settlement and
cultural histories of the narrow geographic
corridor linking the Middle East with western
Central Asia. Pumpelly (1905), Arne (1935),
Okladnikov (1949), Coon (1951, 1952a),
Movius (1953), Masson (1957), Markov (1966)
and McBurney (1964,1968) have all provided
us with important and fascinating glimpses on
the ways of life at seasonal hunting and fishing
encampments and early food-producing
communities between the Caspian Sea and the
Alborz and Kopet Dagh mountains in northern
Iran and southern Turkmenistan. However, due
to political instabilities associated with the
break-up of the Soviet Union and the Islamic
Revolution in Iran, very little research was
undertaken on the processes giving rise to the
domestication of plants and animals, the
adoption of new technologies and the
emergence of village life in this region of the
world following the last Ice Age (Harris et al.,
1993, 1996; Hiebert and Kurbansakhatov, 2003;
Gregg, 2010c; Vahdati Nasab et al., 2011).
Consequently, evolutionary developments on
the fertile grasslands and in highland forests
adjacent to the Caspian Sea during the late
Pleistocene and early Holocene have rarely
been taken into account in longstanding debates
concerning core and peripheral areas of
independent economic innovation (Pumpelly,
1905; Vavilov, 1926,; Childe, 1928; Coon,
1951b; Danilenko, 1969; Masson and Sarianidi,
1972; Hole, 1984; Bar-Yosef and Valla, 1989;
Bar-Yosef and Khazanov, 1992; Aurenche et
al., 2001; Watkins, 2008; Zeder, 2011).
Russian botanist Nikolai Vavilov (1926)
included western Central Asia as one of five
regions of the world where agriculture first
developed, but there is currently no compelling
evidence for the independent domestication of
plants or animals in northern Iran or
southwestern Turkmenistan at the onset of the
Holocene.
Archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological
evidence from the well-documented Pottery
Neolithic settlement at Djeitun (Masson, 1957;
Harris et al. 1993, 1996; Harris and Gosden,
1993; Charles and Bogaard 1996, 2005; Charles
and Hillman, 1992; Harris, 2010) has shown
that the wild progenitors of wheat and sheep are
not found east of the Caspian Sea, and that a
sedentary way of life based on the herding of
sheep and goats and cultivation of cereal grains
was likely introduced into this region from
Southwest Asia circa 6000 cal. BC (Harrris,
2010). However, it is becoming increasingly
clear that the transition from hunting and
gathering to food production in western Eurasia
is not a uniform phenomenon. Statistical
analyses of radiocarbon dates from the earliest
pottery-bearing horizons of hunting and fishing
settlements in eastern Europe, western Russia,
A Preliminary Analysis of ... Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3)
58
Ukraine and the Caucasus have shown that
foraging societies varied not only in when they
adopted agricultural crops and domesticated
livestock, but also in the range of species
incorporated into their subsistence base; the
proportion of domesticated vs. wild food
resources; and the tempo of adoption of ceramic
technologies facilitating replacement of natural
resources with domesticated ones. There is also
a growing body of evidence for the use of
pottery at many of these pre-agricultural
settlements as early as 7000 cal. BC
(Dolukhanov, 1986, 1987, 1989; Dolukhanov
and Shukurov, 2004; Dolukhanov et al., 2005,
2007, 2009a; Anthony, 2007; Zvelebil and
Jordan, 2010; Vasilieva, 2011).
In light of many unanswered questions
regarding interactions between Epipalaeolithic
hunters and fishers of the Caspian littoral plain
and Neolithic farmers and herders of the Iranian
plateau (McBurney, 1968; Masson and
Sarianidi, 1972; Kohl 1984; Hiebert and Dyson,
2002) and a hypothesized trajectory for the
invention and/or adoption of pottery in western
Eurasia other than that associated with the
diffusion of agropastoralism from the Middle
East (Dolukhanov and Shukurov, 2004;
Dolukhanov et al., 2005, 2009a; Zvelebil and
Jordan, 2010), we have examined archival and
archaeological materials from Hotu and Belt
Caves. These rockshelters, situated on the late
Pleistocene shoreline of the Caspian Sea in the
foothills of the Alborz Mountain near the
modern town of Behshar in Mazandaran
province, were hurriedly excavated by
University of Pennsylvania anthropologist
Carleton Coon over the course of nine weeks in
the fall of 1949 and the spring of 1951.
A preliminary report on the 1949
excavations at Belt Cave (1951) can be found in
Coon’s monograph entitled Cave Explorations
in Iran 1949 that also contained plans, section
drawings and artifact descriptions from his
excavations at Bisitun, Tamtana and Khunik
caves. The focus of this volume is in presenting
an overview of the magnitude and scope of the
University of Pennsylvania Museum expedition
rather than providing a detailed explanation of
the archaeological horizons from which a
veritable wealth of materials was recovered.
Coon did not produce a report on his
subsequent excavations at Belt Cave in the
spring of 1951, but includes a brief paragraph
on his findings from the site in a preliminary
report on his concurrent excavations at nearby
Hotu Cave published in the Proceedings of the
American Philosophical Society (1952a). Short
papers on the recovery of artifacts (including a
fired-clay “goddess” figurine) and human
skeleton remains from late Pleistocene gravels
at Hotu Cave were also published in the same
issue of this journal by Coon’s collaborators
Louis Dupree (1952) and Lawrence Angel
(1952) respectively. Coon subsequently
M. W. Gregg, C. P. Thornton Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3)
59
produced chapters on his findings at Hotu and
Belt Caves in The Seven Caves. However,
neither this “tale of high adventure” (1957:
cover, inside flap) nor either of the preliminary
reports (1951, 1952a) include detailed analysis
of the thousands upon thousands of pottery
fragments recovered from these sites.
Hotu and Belt Caves provide ample
evidence of human occupation at various times
from the early Mesolithic to post-Achaemenid
periods (Libby, 1950; Coon, 1951, 1952a,
1957; Dupree, 1952; Angel, 1951; Ralph,
1955). However, the hurried methods used in
excavation, and the haphazard manner in which
finds were collected and stratigraphy was
recorded, preclude the possibility of developing
a high-resolution chronology for the transition
from foraging to food production. Such
problems also restrict our ability to reach
conclusions about whether pottery was invented
near Hotu and Belt Caves or adopted from other
regions in western Eurasia. Nevertheless,
reconstruction of the sequence of deposition as
recorded in Coon’s field notes and unpublished
drawings presented below does suggest in situ
development of ceramic technology at Hotu and
Belt Caves at the end of the Pleistocene. A
Mesolithic “interest in clay” (Coon, 1951:75)
and the presence of a later ‘hybrid’ of pottery
forms utilizing a mixture of Caspian ‘soft
ware’ and Cheshmeh Ali manufacturing
techniques at Hotu Cave, allows tentative
hypotheses to be drawn concerning core and
peripheral areas of independent economic
innovation within the region. This work also
draws attention to the compelling need for
additional research into the role of ceramic
technologies as a catalyst for a sedentary way
of life in western Central Asia.
Panoramic photographs of the modern
exterior and setting of Hotu and Belt Caves by
Meysam Akbarzadeh are available online at:
http://www.360cities.net/image/huto-cave-
northern-iran#0.00,0.00,70.0
http://www.360cities.net/image/kamarband-
cave#-58.03,-7.76,70.0
1949 and 1951 Excavations at Belt Cave
Carleton Coon led a team of approximately 25
Iranian workmen in excavating two adjacent
trenches at Belt Cave (Fig. 1) over a ten-day
period from October 13-20, 1949. Trench A
was excavated to a depth of approximately 6
meters and the stratigraphic section profile for
this unit was published in Cave Explorations in
Iran 1949 (Fig. 2). Trenches A and B were
initially designated as Trenches 1 and 2 in this
monograph, but renamed in field notes from
Coon’s 1951 excavations beneath the ‘dune’ at
the mouth of Belt Cave (Fig. 1). Although the
stratigraphy of Trench 2 (or B) is shown on the
AD profile in Figure 1, artifact provenience was
only recorded for materials recovered from
Trench 1 (or A). Our examination of Coon’s
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60
field notes and drawings in the University of
Pennsylvania Museum archives indicate that
Trench 2 (or B) was excavated to a depth of
approximately 1 meter in October 1949, and to
a depth of approximately 6 meters along with a
new unit (Trench C) when fieldwork resumed
in the spring of 1951 (Fig. 3). Coon’s published
drawing (Fig. 2) shows that Trench 1 (or A)
was excavated in ‘spits’ of approximately 10
centimeters, while his field notes indicate that
the ‘spits’ in Trench 2 (or B) and Trench C
ranged between 30 - 100cm.
Coon did not publish stratigraphic section
profiles for either Trench 2 (or B) or Trench C.
However, a partial profile of the north face of
Trench C from the 1951 excavations,
incorporating portions of Trench 2 (or B) from
the 1949 excavations (Figure 4), was found
among Carleton Coon’s personal papers at the
National Anthropological Archives at the
Smithsonian Institution. No grid coordinates
were recorded on this drawing, but a notation
on its top right-hand corner places this position
directly beneath the entrance to the cave. A
handwritten note on the left-hand edge of the
drawing contains the following instructions:
“Ghar-i-kammerband [Belt Cave] North face
section Correct 1949 sections from this one.”
Section profiles do not appear to have been
drawn for the 1st and 2nd deep trenches in
Trench C.
In Cave Explorations in Iran 1949, Coon
reports three distinct cultural horizons at Belt
cave: Early and Late Mesolithic and Neolithic,
but there remains a great deal of ambiguity as to
whether there is actually an aceramic
‘Neolithic’ occupation. Neolithic levels 1-10 in
Trench A were removed within the first two
days of excavation (Coon, 1957:150), and
aceramic and pottery Neolithic horizons are not
differentiated from one another in Coon’s
published section profiles (Fig. 2). In
recounting his exploits on the Caspian shore,
Coon (1957:150) notes that “[i]n two days we
had found in Trench A an early Neolithic
industry that had pottery, following, without
soil change or interruption, a still earlier
Neolithic that lacked it. Whereas, the ceramic
Neolithic people had reaped grain and herded
cows and pigs as well as sheep and goats, the
pre-ceramic Neolithic peoples, who can have
been their immediate ancestors, had been
simple herdsmen, pasturing sheep and goats.”
Coon had previously suggested that Neolithic
begins in Level 10 but that pottery is not
“indubitably present” until level 7 (Coon,
1951:41). However, in our examination of his
field notes from the 1949 excavations, Coon
records recovery of ‘soft ware’ pottery from
levels 6-11, apparently including two Upper
Mesolithic levels (Fig. 2). Five “mysterious”
unbaked clay conical objects were also found in
levels 11 and 12. For Coon (1951:75) what
these objects were used for was “anyone’s
M. W. Gregg, C. P. Thornton Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3)
61
guess”, but they also demonstrated “a
Mesolithic interest in clay”.
To Coon, the faunal remains of ovicaprids in
Mesolithic levels were morphologically
indistinguishable from domesticated species
found in Neolithic levels at Belt Cave, but the
ratio of young animals in the faunal assemblage
led him to suspect that “goat herding began in
the Mesolithic” (Coon, 1951:50). In a
comparison of subsistence practices at Belt
Cave and the nearby aceramic Epipalaeolithic
cave at Ali Tappeh, Charles McBurney notes
with the simultaneous arrival of large quantities
of pottery and the first morphological evidence
of domesticated goats, “the entire faunal and
industrial spectra change as if it were over
night” (McBurney, 1968:408). The ratio of
ovicaprid remains jumps from 12 to 84%, while
gazelle drops from 62 to 8%, and aurochs from
22 to 0%. Mesolithic backed-blades and
geometrics disappear with the advent of pottery,
but only one sickle blade is recorded in levels
8-10 whereas twenty were recovered from
levels 1-7. Conversely, stone pestles were
recovered from levels 9, 16, 22, 25 and stone
mortars with traces of red ocher from levels 12,
13. Only one saddle quern was found at Belt
Cave, in level 2, one of the topmost and
presumably latest Neolithic levels.
Coon returned to Iran in the spring of 1951
to continue work at Belt Cave and undertake
new excavations at nearby Hotu Cave. Trenches
B and C at Belt (Figs. 1,3) were excavated to a
depth of 6 meters over a two-week period
between February 28 and March 14, 1951. A
short paragraph in Coon’s preliminary report on
his 1951 excavations at Hotu Cave states that:
“Belt Cave contained four cultural horizons
reading from top to bottom: (1) a mixed deposit
containing Neolithic remains along with Iron
Age, Islamic and Modern materials; (2) a true
Neolithic horizon divided into an upper (2a),
which contained pottery and domesticated
animals, and a lower (2b), which contained
domestic sheep and goats but no pottery; (3) a
Mesolithic culture in which the principal food
was supplied by a grassland or desert animal,
Gazella subgutturosa jacovlew; still found on
the Turkoman plain; (4) an earlier Mesolithic
during which time the cave was a flint factory,
and the workmen lunched off a small species of
Caspian seal and many water birds” (Coon,
1952: 231). Coon’s field notes indicate that the
‘true Neolithic horizon’ mentioned above is
30cm in depth: the upper pottery bearing levels
being 90 -105 cm below the presumed surface
of the cave floor (Fig. 3) with pre-ceramic
levels below that at depths of 105 - 120 cm.
However, Elizabeth Ralph’s (1955) report on
radiocarbon dating of the 1951 excavations
suggests that the pre-ceramic Neolithic levels at
Belt Cave are deeper still, lying between 150 -
160 mm in depth.
Coon initially reported recovering
A Preliminary Analysis of ... Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3)
62
fragmentary skeletal remains of two Mesolithic
individuals from Belt Cave in the Bulletin of the
Philadelphia Anthropological Society (Coon,
1950:3). This number was later revised to
include three Mesolithic individuals recovered
from a burial in levels 19 - 21 of Trench 1 (or
A) and a Neolithic individual from unspecified
levels in Trench 2 (or B) (Coon 1951:79). In a
lecture delivered to a special meeting of the
Prehistoric Society in London on his recent
Stone Age discoveries in Iran, Coon noted that
the Mesolithic individuals included a
“decapitated” male found with his head
between his legs, a twelve year old girl with
“Neanderthal features”, an individual of heavy
build, and a great deal of red ochre associated
with all three burials (Cornwall, 1951:164).
Nine of 125 pages in Cave Explorations in Iran
1949 are devoted to the presentation of
photographs and cranial measurements of the
skull of the young girl; however, the number of
Mesolithic individuals remains unclear in
Coon’s report (1953:326) in Catalogue des
Hommes Fossiles V. No mention of Neolithic
individuals is found in this volume, but our
examination of Coon’s field notes from his
1951 excavations indicate that skeletal remains
of as many as six individuals were recovered
from Neolithic occupations at Belt Cave. Four
Neolithic individuals are reported as having
been recovered from Belt Cave in Coon’s
(1952:231) preliminary report on excavations at
Hotu Cave. In Figure 3, the locations of where
human skeletal remains were recovered has
been reconstructed from Coon’s typed
laboratory notes and contextual information
contained in Ralph’s (1955) publication of
radiocarbon dates. Additional information on
Coon’s field notes from Belt cave can be found
at: http://michaelwgregg.com/Hotu:Belt Guide
(Gregg 2010c).pdf
1951 Excavations at Hotu Cave
Excavations were undertaken at Hotu Caver
over a five week period from March 14 - April
21, 1951. While work was being completed at
Belt Cave under the supervision of graduate
student Louis Dupree, Coon led a small team of
workmen in clearing the narrow mouth of the
much larger cavern that had been completely
buried fifteen years earlier by limestone mining
activities (Coon, 1952). Excavation began in
Trench A at back of Hotu Cave (Fig. 5), with a
successive series of steps progressively dug into
the area designated as Trench B to allow easy
access for workmen removing materials. This
excavation approach may have caused materials
from later levels of Trench B to have been
recovered with earlier materials from Trench A.
The excavation plan and profiles in Figures
5, 6 and 8 below are from Coon’s 1952
preliminary report on Hotu Cave, published in
the Proceedings of the American Philosophical
Society. Two areas were identified in this report
M. W. Gregg, C. P. Thornton Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3)
63
as being excavated at a later time; however, no
mention is made of any subsequent excavation
in Coon’s 1951 field notes, nor were
coordinates assigned. Trenches A, B and C
were excavated to the depth of a late
Pleistocene gravel that progressively slopes
from the rear to the mouth of the cave, and
large limestone boulders were encountered at a
depth of approximately 5.5 meters towards the
back of the cave in Trench A. No section
profiles appear to have been drawn for
Trenches B or C, but Coon’s field notes
indicate that the depth of the interface with this
gravel layer is 6.65 m in trench A; 7.15 m in
trench C; and 8.0 m in trench B. Specific depths
of excavated units HA1 - HA45 have been
reconstructed in Figure 7 from an unpublished
drawing found among Carleton Coon’s field,
laboratory and teaching notes in the archives of
the University of Pennsylvania Museum. This
drawing indicates that excavations were
undertaken in the same manner as at Belt,
where Trench A was excavated in ‘spits’ of
approximately 10 centimeter in depth, whereas
the ‘spits’ in Trench B ranged between 30-
100cm.
A smaller trench (D) was subsequently
excavated in the underlying Pleistocene layers
of trench B to a depth of 5 meters. Combined
depth of Trenches B and D is approximately 12
meters. The plan and stratigraphic profile of
Mesolithic horizons in Trench D (including the
locations from which human skeletal remains
were recovered) can be found in Figure 8.
Artifacts from Trench A were given
designations that included the excavation unit
and the number of the spit from which they had
been recovered (e.g., HA 10), whereas artifacts
from Trenches B, C and D received
designations with excavation unit and the depth
from which they had been recovered (e.g., HB
2.50-2.80). A summary of radiocarbon dates
associated with specific depths, excavation
units and archaeological horizons at Hotu Cave
found can be found in Table 3.
Coon’s excavations at Hotu Cave received
worldwide attention within weeks of
completion with publication of a four-page
photo essay by Bob Stevens in Life magazine
on “Discovery of the Earliest Humans”
(Stevens, 1951:113). The headlines and text
accompanying the dramatic photos claimed that
sand and gravel in the basal levels of the cave
had yielded three 75,000 year old human
skeletons, and that these “new-found Iranians
may emerge as the earliest known direct
ancestors of the human race” (Stevens, 1951:
113). There is no attribution for the text, but
charts and drawings explaining the possible
evolutionary relationship of the Hotu Cave to
Piltdown Man are based on materials supplied
by the University of Pennsylvania Museum.
Dupree was convinced that the sand and gravel
covering the skeletal remains had been
A Preliminary Analysis of ... Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3)
64
deposited before “the last glacial advance
75,000 to 100,000 years ago”, whereas Coon
was “as sure as Dupree that Hotu Man lived
before the last glacier retreated” (Stevens,
1951:116). The April 9, 1951, entry in Coon’s
field notes records that Dupree had recovered a
“core hand-axe — Tayacian type ? ” from the
gravels in Trench D between 7.5 - 8.0 meters in
depth. In this entry Coon notes that there was
“definitely Lower Palaeolithic in [the] cave!! ”,
and jokingly remarks: “What next [?] said
several tadpoles to each other, Mousterian of
Acheulean tradition? ” (Gregg, 2010: 25).
In their subsequent preliminary reports Coon
(1952) and Dupree (1952) are more
circumspect in their claims of early dates for
skeletal remains and artifacts recovered from
the Pleistocene gravels at Hotu Cave. Coon is
less confident than when the skeletal remains
were initially discovered, because the
archaeological, botanical, faunal and geological
evidence yielded “no clear pattern of agreement
between them” (Coon, 1952: 235). He surmises
that the only conclusion that can be reliably
drawn is that the earliest human occupation of
the cave “took place in a wet period” (Coon,
1952:246). Dupree’s report on artifacts from the
Pleistocene gravels does not include mention of
a handaxe (Taycian or otherwise), but the
absence of microliths similar to those from
Mesolithic levels at Belt leads him to conjecture
that the flakes and pebble tools dominating the
lithic assemblage in Trench D belong to a
“localized Upper Palaeolithic (?)” industry
(Dupree, 1952:257). Dupree draws parallels
between a fragmentary fired-clay “Goddess
Figurine” with stone and bone objects
recovered from Upper Palaeolithic sites in
Russia and questions whether a mat-impressed
“fire-burned lump of clay” could be used as
evidence of basketry (Dupree, 1952:253; photo
in Coon, 1952:247). Coon later suggests the
lithic industry associated with the skeletal
remains at Hotu Cave could be related to “late
Gravettian or early Mesolithic of Iran” (Coon,
1953:327). However, charcoal from the same
horizon as the skeletal remains (Figure 8: gravel
4) was subsequently dated to 9190 ± 590 BP
(Ralph 1955; Table 3 below), and we now
know that the late Khvalynian transgression of
the Caspian Sea at the end of the Pleistocene is
the most likely source of sand and gravel
(Uerpmann and Frey, 1981; Chepalyga, 2007;
Dolukhanov et al., 2009b; Harris, 2010).
Although Coon reports that no pre-ceramic
Neolithic levels were found at Hotu Cave as
had been at Belt, Charles McBurney has argued
that three sickle blades recovered from
Pleistocene gravel 3 (Figure 8) are evidence of
an “incipient Neolithic economy” during the
late Epipalaeolithic in northeastern Iran
(McBurney, 1968:409). McBurney also notes
that the concentration of hunters on sheep/goat
to the virtual exclusion of gazelle at this time is
M. W. Gregg, C. P. Thornton Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3)
65
an “interesting prelude to domestication
associated with ‘soft ware’ [pottery]”
(McBurney, 1968:409). Although Coon’s
preliminary report states that ‘soft wares’ were
found in levels 32 through 45 in Trench A at
Hotu Cave, our examination of his field notes
record that ‘soft wares’ were present from
levels 31 to 47 in both Trenches A and B
(Gregg 2010: 6). We have also located soft
ware pottery fragments labeled HA 51 in the
University of Pennsylvania Museum
collections. No designation of spits 46 through
51 are to be found in Coon’s drawing of
excavation units (Figure 7), but these levels are
presumably below 7.15 meters in depth in the
late Pleistocene gravels of Trench D (Fig. 8).
Additional information on Coon’s field notes
from Hotu Cave can be found at:
http://michaelwgregg.com/Hotu:Belt Guide
(Gregg 2010c).pdf
Radiocarbon Dates from 1949 and 1951
Excavations at Hotu, Belt Caves
Radiocarbon analysis was initially undertaken
by Willard Libby of the University Chicago on
eight charred bone samples recovered from
Mesolithic and Neolithic occupations of Belt
Cave during excavations in 1949 (Libby,
1951:72; Libby, 1955:83-84). Elizabeth Ralph
(1955:150-151) of the University of
Pennsylvania Museum subsequently conducted
radiocarbon assays of 36 charcoal samples from
Coon’s 1951 excavations, including 10 from
Belt Cave and 26 from Hotu Cave. A wide
range of statistical variability is quite common
with older ‘conventional’ radiocarbon dates,
and many assays from Hotu and Belt Caves
(Tables 1-3) are not specific enough to provide
a reliable estimate of the actual age of the
materials that we have examined. This
variability appears to have been compounded
by inconsistencies in the collection of materials
during excavation, and Libby’s calculation of
the half-life of 14 C as 5568 ± 30 years. The
published dates provided by Libby and Ralph
for Coon’s excavations at Hotu and Belt Caves
have been recalculated using the more accurate
Cambridge half-life for 14 C of 5730 ± 40 years
and subsequently calibrated using OxCal 4.0
(68% confidence interval). Ralph’s dates for
Trench C at Belt Cave (Table 3) have the
highest degree of internal consistency.
Inconsistencies in dating of the stratigraphic
sequence from Coon’s excavations at Hotu and
Belt caves may have resulted from a
combination of factors: bioturbation,
disturbance by workmen during excavation,
possible contamination from modern carbon
sources, or ‘old wood effect’ with tree ring
formation possibly having occurred hundreds of
years before inclusion in occupation levels.
In Cave Exploration in Iran 1949, Coon
reports that radiocarbon samples were sent to
Libby from levels 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 at Belt
A Preliminary Analysis of ... Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3)
66
Cave. Radiocarbon dates for levels 6, 7, 8, 9, 11
were not reported by Libby. Assays of samples
C-492 and C-547 appear to have been
combined to give a mean date of 8004 ± 415
BP for lower Mesolithic levels 21-28. C-494,
C495, and C523 appear to have been combined
to arrive at a ‘Neolithic mean’ of 8085 ± 1500
BP for level 9 (Coon, 1951:31), “a zone
containing flint blades and pottery sherds of
Neolithic Type (Libby, 1951:72).
Preliminary Analysis of Pottery from Hotu
Cave
Carleton Coon brought thousands of pottery
sherds from Hotu and Belt Caves to the
University of Pennsylvania Museum in
Philadelphia for further examination. However,
as we have noted above, Coon’s hurried
excavation methods and haphazard manner of
collecting and recording finds prevent many
aspects of this important ceramic collection
from being fully-understood.
In his preliminary report on excavations at
Belt Cave in 1949, Coon devotes three brief
paragraphs to a description of 426 pottery
fragments, focusing primarily on 174
“exceedingly primitive” soft ware sherds
recovered from levels 1-10 in Trench A and
topmost levels of Trench B (Coon, 1951:77).
Although no photographs or drawings are
provided, Coon suggests that the shapes of
vessels could be determined from the sherds:
“wide, open, flat-bottomed bowls of simple
profile, with simple rims and without spouts
lugs or handles” (Coon, 1951:78). Three of
these “roughly burnished” sherds from the
“earliest [unnamed] ceramic horizon” and a
fourth with a “well-burnished surface” from a
“later [unnamed] level” were given to Frederick
Matson for microscopic examination of the
composition of their clay fabric (Matson, 1951:
93). Matson provides a detailed account of
color, texture, mineral grain size and suspected
firing temperatures of these organic-tempered
fragments in an appendix to Coon’s 1951
report, and speculates that there may be
different clay source for the later sherd than the
earlier fragments. He also concludes that these
data are of little importance unless they are
placed in context with analysis of a much larger
number of sherds from forthcoming excavations
at Belt Cave and other sites in the region
(Matson, 1951:95). Coon subsequently
suggested the in situ evolution of soft wares
into forms resembling Sialk II (Cheshmeh Ali)
wares from the Iranian plateau in levels 32
through 45 in Trench A at Hotu Cave:
“Intermediate stages are seen when the software
acquires a burnished red surface, on which lines
are drawn; then the thinware appears, along
with the soft, and the typical geometric designs
are established” (1952:242-3).
In preparation for his 1956 survey of
archaeological sites in northern Iran, Robert H.
M. W. Gregg, C. P. Thornton Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3)
67
Dyson, Jr., was the first researcher to
intensively study the Hotu and Belt pottery
collections at the University of Pennsylvania
Museum, although his assessment was not
published until the early 1990s (Dyson, 1991;
Voigt & Dyson, 1992: 172) due to his direction
of the two-decade-long Hasanlu project. Even
then, Dyson was constrained by the unclear
nature of Coon’s excavations, and the lack of
comparable ceramics from well-chronicled and
securely-dated sites in the region, so his
conclusions were somewhat general and only
relatively dated. With the new assessment of
Coon’s work provided above, and the
significant increase in our understanding of
Neolithic sites from north-central Iran to
southern Turkmenistan, we returned to the
ceramics from Hotu and Belt for a new look at
an old collection.
The ceramic collections from Hotu and Belt
Caves are not as comparable as one might
think. Most sherds from Belt Cave are, in
general, very poorly labeled. Many are from the
“undisturbed dune” found under rockfall just
outside the entrance to Belt Cave. A small
drawing in Coon’s field notes (Fig. 1) shows
that Coon had initially assumed that the “dune”
was undisturbed with its ceramic-filled deposits
in a sealed, primary context. In his preliminary
report on the 1951 excavations at Hotu Cave,
Coon (1952:231) acknowledges that the
topmost cultural horizon at Belt is “a mixed
deposit containing Neolithic, Iron Age, Islamic
and Modern materials.” Our cursory
examination of “Dune” ceramics found every
kind of ceramic dating from the Neolithic
through Parthian periods, and is likely that the
“dune” is backdirt resulting from Islamic-period
grave-digging or early 20th century looting of
the site. A few of the sherds from Belt were
very exactly labeled, such as a software sherd
with thick pink slip and black painted cord
designs with “Belt, Strip 4, 25-45” written on
the back. Coon’s field notes offer no clue as to
what this designation means, so this unique
sherd, which is similar in some ways to the
ceramics from Rashak Cave further to the west
(Vahdati Nasab et al., in press), is of limited
diagnostic value.
Thankfully, the excavations at Hotu Cave
provide not only a deeper sequence of ceramic-
bearing levels, but the sherds from this cave are
much more carefully labeled. As discussed
above, sherds from Trench A were generally
labeled with “H” or “HA” followed by the
excavation ‘spit’ number from which the sherd
came (e.g., “HA 39”). In some cases, the
context of the sherd was not entirely clear, so
the excavators provided a range (e.g., “HA 36-
39”). In contrast, sherds from Trench B were
labeled with an “H” or “HB” followed by the
depth range of the spit (in meters or
centimeters) in which they were found (e.g.,
“HB 6.30-6.55” or “H 560-580”). In certain
A Preliminary Analysis of ... Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3)
68
cases where the context was not totally clear,
uncertainties in depth are noted by a plus sign,
such as “HB 6.60+” which should presumably
be read as “6.60m depth or higher”. Given that
Coon’s team generally excavated in 10-20cm
spits, it seems reasonable to assign such sherds
a 20-centimeter range (i.e., “HB 660+”
becomes “HB 6.40-6.60”). Based on Coon’s
unpublished drawing (Figure 7), many sherds
from Trench A can be assigned absolute depths
comparable to those in Trench B. Ceramic refits
between Trenches A and B (e.g., HA 45 and
HB 6.55-6.90, or H 38 and HB 560+)
corroborate this association.
From a stratigraphic point of view, there are
two main pottery-bearing horizons at Hotu
Cave. From the deepest ceramic-bearing levels
reached at Hotu (i.e., HA 51, presumably below
7.15 m in depth) to level 41 (ca. 6.20-6.50 m),
the assemblage is almost entirely comprised of
Neolithic ceramics. From the cave surface until
level 40 (ca. 6.05-6.20), there are ceramics from
numerous periods spanning the Neolithic to the
Early Islamic Period. This mixing undoubtedly
reflects heavy bioturbation and human
disturbances, but there is a particularly large
and well-defined assemblage of Iron Age III-
Parthian red ware ceramics from these levels
that has never been studied but is deserving of
full treatment. These early historic sherds will
not be discussed here in order to focus on the
prehistoric levels.
Dyson (1991; see also Voigt & Dyson,
1992:172) defined three prehistoric ceramic
horizons in northeastern Iran based on
typological study of the Hotu and Belt
collection as well as other published Neolithic
sites in the region (e.g., Yarim Tepe: Crawford
1963; Stronach 1972). The earliest pottery from
these sites he called “Caspian Neolithic
Software,” which he characterized as, “lightly-
fired, handmade, chaff-tempered, thick, and
crumbly with the most common form was a
deep bowl resembling a beaker, with slightly
concave sides and rounded rim” (Dyson,
1991:266). Above this horizon he noted what
he called “Djeitun” style pottery, comparable to
ceramics found in southern Turkmenistan (ca.
6000-5500 BCE) that are poorly-fired, chaff-
tempered ceramics with thick pink to buff slips
and painted with simple linear designs. The
latest of the early prehistoric ceramic levels he
defined by the presence of “Cheshmeh Ali”
wares of the Sialk II period (ca. 5300-4400
BCE), which are thin, well-fired red ceramics
with sand and thin chaff temper, bright red slips
and well-executed black painted linear and
zoomorphic designs.
Dyson’s ceramic sequence from Neolithic
Soft Ware to Djeitun Ware to Cheshmeh Ali
Ware is found stratified at the site of Sang-i
Chakhmaq near Shahrud in northeastern Iran
(Thornton, 2010), and is therefore essentially
correct for northeastern Iran as a whole.
M. W. Gregg, C. P. Thornton Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3)
69
However, it is slightly misleading when
discussing Hotu and Belt Caves, as not a single
sherd of indisputable “Djeitun” type can be
found in the University of Pennsylvania
Museum collection. While there are indeed
software sherds with thick cream to tan slips
and complex black painted decoration (HA 37-
39 sherds), the designs themselves (e.g., zigzag
chevrons) are unlike any found at the site of
Djeitun (Masson, 1957, 1972; Harris, 2010) or
at “Djeitun”-period sites in northeastern Iran.
Instead, there are more affinities to “Archaic
Zagheh” painted styles known from north-
central Iran (Majidzadeh, 1981) and recently re-
dated to the late 6th millennium BCE based on
analysis of new radiocarbon assays (Fazeli et
al., 2004).
Cheshmeh Ali ceramics are far better
attested at Hotu and Belt Caves, and found
predominately in levels HA 34-39 (ca. HB 5.0-
6.0). The spread of this pottery style from
north-central Iran to northeastern Iran and
southern Turkmenistan has been well
documented by Dyson (1991; see also Dyson
and Thornton, 2009), but admittedly based on
few well-stratified and well-dated deposits. In
north-central Iran, the technological innovations
(i.e., better kilns, sand temper, possible fast
wheel – see Wong et al., 2010; Fazeli et al.,
2010) that allow for this ceramic transition from
chaff-tempered softwares to thin, well-fired red
wares, appear around 5400-5200 BCE in the
Qazvin, Tehran, and Kashan plains (Fazeli et
al., 2005). In northeastern Iran, only a few
“Cheshmeh Ali” style sherds from Sang-i
Chakhmaq have been studied petrographically
(Thornton, in press), and it was determined that
while imports did exist, most of the ceramics of
this type appear to be made from local clays,
the only difference being the techniques
applied. The same is probably true at Hotu and
Belt Caves, where the “Cheshmeh Ali” style
sherds (most common in levels HA 34-39 or
HB 5.0-6.0) can be divided into two general
types: 1) thin, well-fired wares typical of Sialk
II sherds from north-central Iran; and 2)
"hybrid" ware that seems to mix Caspian Soft
Ware techniques (e.g., heavy burnishing; chaff
temper) with Sialk II innovations (i.e., high
firing, well-executed painted motifs).
“Caspian Neolithic Soft Ware” ceramics
with their thick and heavily-burnished red-
brown to tan slips and occasional red band on
the interior lip of the rim, as well as their
distinctive forms (deep bowls or beakers with
out-flaring rims; Fig. 9) are not found at any
other site in northern Iran. However, there are
other types of soft ware in the Early Neolithic
levels at Hotu Cave that are worth mentioning.
For instance, there are many examples of chaff-
tempered soft ware sherds with thick red-brown
to tan slips that are not heavily burnished, and
are more comparable to early Neolithic soft
wares at sites like Sang-i Chakhmaq. In
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70
addition, there are forms beyond the typical
deep bowls and beakers, most notably a
handled cup from HA 45. These examples
suggest that our understanding of early
Neolithic ceramic styles of northern Iran
remains somewhat limited, and a more detailed
petrographic and typological study of pottery
from sites within the region is warranted.
There are three other types of pottery found
in Neolithic levels at Hotu Cave that are worth
mentioning as they are likely to be imports. The
first is a single base sherd of thin, well-fired
dark grey ware with black slip on the interior
and exterior from HB 560+. Such “Black
Burnished Ware” is well-defined by Dyson
(1991:267) and is datable to the late Sialk I
period in north-central Iran (ca. 5500-5200
BCE). The second type consists of a handful of
sherds from HA 46, HB 5.60-5.80, and HB
6.55-6.90 contexts that are thick red wares with
grey cores containing little-to-no chaff, no slip
(perhaps a thin red wash), but heavy brush
marks on the interior surface. The only
distinguishable form of this type (from HB
5.60-5.80) is the neck and shoulder of a large
jar. There are no ready parallels for this type in
Neolithic or Early Chalcolithic contexts
anywhere in northern Iran, although it is
possible that these sherds are intrusive from
later periods (e.g., Bronze or Iron Ages).
However, the notable depth of two of the sherds
(between 6.50 and 7.50 m) suggests otherwise.
The third unique ceramic type that is arguably
of Neolithic date is a small, near-complete bowl
from context HB 630+ that is poorly-fired, and
contains small bits of chaff temper but also
considerable amounts of white mica
(muscovite). The bowl has no obvious slip or
other surface treatment, other than the incised
design at the rim which consists of a rounded
triangle with vertical interior stripes. Without
suitable comparanda, it is difficult to assign this
small bowl to any particular style or time
period. However, it does appear to bear some
similarity to incised beakers recovered from
late Mesolithic and/or early Neolithic sites in
the Soimonov Bay and Bolshoi Balkhan regions
of southern Turkmenistan, including Djebel and
Dam Dam Cheshme Caves (Okladnikov 1949,
1956; Markov 1966).
Discussion
Although Coon reported an in situ evolution of
soft ware pottery forms into those resembling
Sialk II wares at Hotu Cave (1952: 242-3), he
subsequently dismissed the possibility that
pottery may have been an independent
economic innovation of the Caspian region. He
wrote: “I did not believe then, nor do I now,
that these folk were the inventors of pottery, for
what they used, though crude by later standards,
was too good to have been invented on the spot
at the time this deposit was laid down. The
technique must have evolved elsewhere” (Coon
M. W. Gregg, C. P. Thornton Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3)
71
1957:150). Our examination of archival
materials and pottery collections, and
recalculation and calibration of radiocarbon
dates outlined above, does not substantiate this
conclusion. The presence of Mesolithic
occupations containing fired and unfired clay
objects does suggest that the independent
invention of pottery on the Caspian littoral plain
cannot be precluded. Human manipulation of
clay is known from Upper Palaeolithic contexts
in Europe, Siberia, China and Japan and
incipient Neolithic communities in the foothills
of the Zagros Mountains as early as the
beginning of 9th millennium BC (Schmandt-
Besserat, 1974:11). However, the modeling and
firing of clay has not been attested at Mesolithic
or Epipalaeolithic sites in regions immediately
neighboring the Caspian Sea, nor have clear
trajectories for the adoption of pottery been
established predating its emergence at either
Hotu or Belt Caves. Furthermore, the
hybridization of Caspian Neolithic Soft Ware
and Cheshme Ali manufacturing techniques
evident in the ceramic assemblage from Hotu
Cave not only raises the possibility of adoption
of pottery forms from incoming populations
from north central Iran, but also potential
assimilation of indigenous Caspian cultural
traditions into those of agropastoral groups
originating in the Teheran Plain.
Coon realized that “much remains to be
done on this pottery” (Coon, 1951:78), and one
of us (MG) has recently extracted organic
residues surviving in 36 fired-clay and Caspian
soft ware fragments from late Mesolithic and
early Neolithic archaeological horizons at Hotu
and Belt Caves in order to obtain direct
evidence of prehistoric subsistence associated
with the earliest uses of clay in the southern
Caspian region (Gregg and Slater forthcoming-
a). Using a range of innovative extraction
methods analytical techniques (Gregg et al.,
2007; Gregg and Slater, 2010) successfully
employed in the recovery and characterization
of residues in pottery from early agricultural
settlements throughout the Middle East (Gregg
et al., 2007, 2009; Gregg, 2010a,b), the
chemical composition of ancient residues is
currently being compared to modern plant and
animal foods obtained from herders raising
flocks in different ecological niches in the
region (Gregg and Slater forthcoming-b). These
forthcoming studies will be invaluable in
addressing questions regarding the role of
ceramic technology in the nature and scale of
the adoption of agropastoralism in the eastern
regions of the Fertile Crescent, the Caucasus
and western Central Asia.
Unfortunately, we have come to the
realization that it will be quite difficult (if not
impossible) to place the data from these two
forthcoming studies within a secure
chronological and cultural framework based
solely upon Coon’s excavations at Hotu and
A Preliminary Analysis of ... Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3)
72
Belt Caves. As Coon (1957:216) laments in The
Seven Caves:
“The final report on Hotu has not yet been
written, and I am not sure that it can ever be.
Although enough of the Neolithic and Iron Age
soils have been removed to give specialists in
those periods a fair sample of cultural remains
to work with, the underlying red and black soils
have not been adequately sampled. Someone
must go back to dig out the rest of the deposit.
As I have found it by inadvertence and left most
of the analysis to others, I can say in full
modesty from my position on the sidelines that
Hotu promises to be one of the great caves in
the Middle East, just as the Caspian shore
promises to be one of the world’s great cave-
digging regions. Future discoveries in Hotu and
neighboring caves will undoubtedly bring many
new facts to light, to fill other voids in the
archaeological picture. That the books are never
closed on such a site and such a region is one of
the charms of this work.”
Final reports on Coon’s 1949 and 1951
excavations at Hotu and Belt Caves are unlikely
to ever be written.
Even if new work was undertaken at Hotu
Cave, Coon’s hurried and inconsistent
excavations methods and his lack of rigor in
collecting, documenting and labeling finds as
they were unearthed now prevents generalists
and specialists alike from obtaining a
comprehensive understanding of the
depositional sequences as they existed and
cultural contexts and transitional phases as
materials were recovered.
Nevertheless, Coon’s assessment of the
importance of the Caspian shoreline as “one of the
world’s great cave-digging regions” may very
well turn out to be correct. There are many gaps in
our current understanding of how changes in
climate affected the initial dispersal of modern
human groups in this region of the world
following the last Ice Age. Changes in vegetation
and faunal distributions associated with late
Pleistocene and early Holocene transgressions and
regressions of the Caspian Sea and the emergence
of food production in western Eurasia have yet to
be modeled. We suggest that future research
should include intensive archaeological and
geophysical survey of the hundreds of kilometers
of the former Caspian shoreline in northern Iran
and southern Turkmenistan that remain
unexplored. Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic
sites are surely there to be found. There is also
compelling need for rigorous, long-term
interdisciplinary excavation of a cave site in the
region — not only to insure that findings from the
southeastern shore of the Caspian Sea are
properly taken into account in the continuing
debate concerning core and peripheral areas of
independent economic innovation — but also to
develop a high-resolution chronology for one of
the most fascinating and transformative periods in
human history.
M. W. Gregg, C. P. Thornton Intl. J. Humanities (2012) Vol. 19 (3)
73
Acknowledgments
Richard Zettler (Associate Curator-In-Charge),
Katherine Blanchard (Keeper of Near Eastern
Collections); Alex Pezzati (Senior Archivist),
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology,
University of Pennsylvania; Social Sciences
and Humanities Research Council of Canada;
Iran Heritage Foundation; McMaster
University.
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Table 1. Radiocarbon assays from 1949 excavations at Belt Cave (after Coon 1951)
Laboratory
Number(s) Cultural horizon Trench/
spit Depth
14C BP
5568 1/2 life
(reported)
14C BP
5730 1/2 life
(calculated)
Calibrated AD/BC
(68% confidence)
N/A Lower Mesolithic 26/28 N/A 8085 ± 720 8325 ± 740 8285-6466 cal BC
N/A Upper Mesolithic 15/16 N/A 8596 ± 510 8850 ± 525 8738-7352 cal BC
N/A Mesolithic/Neolithic
Transition 11 N/A 10560 ± 610 10875 ± 630 11505-9876 cal BC
N/A Neolithic 9 N/A 8085 ± 1500 8325 ± 1550 9754-5574 cal BC
(After Libby 1951:72)
Laboratory
Number(s) Cultural horizon Trench/
spit Depth
14C BP
5568 1/2 life
(reported)
14C BP
5730 1/2 life
(calculated)
Calibrated AD/BC
(68% confidence)
C-492
C-547 Lower Mesolithic 21-28 3.00-4.05 m 8004 ± 415 8244 ± 740 8236-6440 cal BC
C-525* Upper Mesolithic 15-16 1.25-2.15 m 1130 ± 300
1260 ± 430
1165 ± 310
1300 ± 440
597-1181 cal AD
258-1166 cal AD
C-574 Upper Mesolithic 15-16 1.25-2.15 m 8545 ± 500 8800 ± 515 8700-7310 cal BC
C-524 Mesolithic/Neolithic
Transition 10 1.25-1.40 m 10560 ± 610 10875 ± 630 11505-9876 cal BC
C-494 Neolithic levels N/A N/A 8085 ± 720 8325 ± 740 8285-6466 cal BC
C-495 with pottery
C-523
* Libby comments on C-525 sample: “Supposedly from same level as No. 574. Looks intrusive or altered
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Table 2. Belt Cave 1951 (After Ralph 1955)
Laboratory
Number(s) Cultural horizon Trench/
spit Depth
14C BP
5568 1/2 life
(reported)
14C BP
5730 1/2 life
(calculated)
Calibrated AD/BC
(68% confidence)
P-19 Soft ware Neolithic
C .95-1.05 m 7015 ± 405 7225 ± 420 8285-6466 cal BC
P-19a Soft ware Neolithic
C .95-1.05 m 7395 ± 495 7620 ± 510 7140-6000 cal BC
P-19b Soft ware Neolithic
C .95-1.05 m 7430 ± 460 7650 ± 475 7125-6030 cal BC
P-26 Aceramic Neolithic
C 1.50-1.60 m 7680 ± 470 7910 ± 485 7480-6385 cal BC
P-26a Aceramic Neolithic
C 1.50-1.60 m 7905 ± 475 8140 ± 490 7630-6465 cal BC
P-24 Gazelle Mesolithic C 1.75-1.90 m 8785 ± 575 9050 ± 590 9155-7570 cal BC
P-24a Gazelle Mesolithic C 1.75-1.90 m 8360 ± 510 8610 ± 525 8430-7050 cal BC
P-27 Mesolithic Loess C 2.00-2.30 m 12275 ± 825 12640 ± 850 14450-11970 cal BC
P-20 Seal Mesolithic C 2.30-2.50 m 11400 ± 800 11740 ± 825 13110-10785 cal BC
P-20b Seal Mesolithic C 2.30-2.50 m 11550 ± 750 11900 ± 775 13210-11000 cal BC
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Table 3. Hotu Cave 1951 (after Ralph 1955)
Laboratory Cultural horizon Trench/ spit
Depth 14C BP 14C BP Calibrated AD/BC
P-18 Post-Achaemenid HC NA 1220 ± 230 1255 ± 235 565-1020 cal AD
P-43 Post-Achaemenid HA10 1.90-2.00 m 2200 ± 280 2265 ± 290 760-40 cal BC
P-44 Iron Age HB 2.00-2.40 m 2970 ± 270 3060 ± 280 1610-930 cal BC
P-14 Early Iron Age HA19 3.10-3.20 m 2880 ± 340 2965 ± 350 1630-800 cal BC
P-14a Early Iron Age HA19 3.10-3.20 m 2485 ± 235 2560 ± 240 900-250 cal BC
P-32 Early Iron Age HA25 3.80-4.00 m 2500 ± 260 2575 ± 270 975-390 cal BC
P-32a Early Iron Age HA25 3.80-4.00 m 2890 ± 310 2975 ± 320 1605-810 cal BC
P-15a Early Iron Age HA26 4.00-4.15 m 2775 ± 315 2860 ± 325 1500-600 cal BC
P-17 Early Iron Age HA27 4.15-4.30 m 2975 ± 345 3065 ± 355 1740-845 cal BC
P-17a Early Iron Age HA27 4.15-4.30 m 2650 ± 290 2730 ± 300 1290-520 cal BC
P-41 Early Iron Age HB + 4.00 m 2890 ± 370 2975 ± 380 1730-785 cal BC
P-33 Early Iron Age HA29 4.40-4.60 m 3270± 390 3370 ± 400 2275-1130 cal BC
P-33a Early Iron Age HA29 4.40-4.60 m 2630± 260 2710 ± 270 1255-525 cal BC
P-52 Painted pottery HA33 5.00-5.20 m 2860 ± 380 2945 ± 390 1730-670 cal BC
P-45 Painted pottery HB + 5.35 m 6515 ± 425 6710 ± 440 6090-5210 cal BC
P-34 Painted pottery HA34-8 5.20-5.90 m 4830 ± 480 4975 ± 495 4345-3105 cal BC
P-35 Neolithic software HA39-41 5.90-6.60 4730 ± 320 4870 ± 330 4045-3120 cal BC
P-36 Neolithic software HB + 5.80 m 6385 ± 425 6575 ± 440 5975-5050 cal BC
P-37 Sub-Neolithic HD 7.65 m 8070 ± 500 8310 ± 515 7940-6650 cal BC
P-12 Mesolithic (vole) HD 9.50 m 9190 ± 590 9465 ± 610 9800-7975 cal BC
P-38 Mesolithic (vole) HD 10.15 m 9220 ± 570 9500 ± 610 9875-8000 cal BC
P-39 Mesolithic (seal) HD 11.15 m 11860 ± 840 12215 ± 865 13920-11350 cal BC
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يﺎﻬﻟﺎﺳ يﺎﻬﺷوﺎﻛ يﺮﮕﻧزﺎﺑ1949 و 1951نوﻮﻛ ﻲﻠﻧﺎﺘﺳا نﻮﺘﻟرﺎﻛ
ﻪﻃﻮﺤﻣ رد و ناﺮﻳا لﺎﻤﺷ رد ﻊﻗاو ﺪﻨﺑﺮﻤﻛ و ﻮﺗﻮﻫ يﺎﻫﺮﺑ نآ ﺮﻴﺛ
هوﺮﮔ ﺶﻨﻛاﺮﭘ صﻮﺼﺧ رد ﻲﺗآ يﺎﻬﺸﻫوﮋﭘ ﺶﻳاﺪﻴﭘ و ﻲﻧﺎﺴﻧا يﺎﻫ
ﻦﻴﻣزﺮﺳ رد ﻲﻳﺎﺘﺳور يﺎﻫراﺮﻘﺘﺳا يﺎﻫﺎﺑ روﺎﺠﻣ ﺖﺴﭘ
ﻪﻨﻣاد و نارﺪﻧزﺎﻣ يﺎﻳرد زﺮﺒﻟا نﺎﺘﺴﻫﻮﻛ يﺎﻫ
گِﺮﮔ ﻞﻜﻳﺎﻣ
1
ﻦُﺘﻧرﻮﺗ ﺲﻳﺮﻛ و
2
ﺖﻓﺎﻳرد ﺦﻳرﺎﺗ :4/8/1391 شﺮﻳﺬﭘ ﺦﻳرﺎﺗ :6/10/1391
ﻪﻳﻻ يزﺎﺳزﺎﺑ ﻪﺑ رﺎﺘﺷﻮﻧ ﻦﻳا يرﺎﮕﻧ شوﺎﻛ يﺎﻫ يﺎﻬﻟﺎﺳ يﺎﻫ1949 و 1951 ﻲﻠﻨﺘﺳا نﻮﺘﻟرﺎﻛ
هداد سﺎﺳا ﺮﺑ ﺪﻨﺑﺮﻤﻛ و ﻮﺗﻮﻫ يﺎﻫرﺎﻏ رد نوﻮﻛ ﺖﺳد و ﺎﻫ ﻪﺘﺷﻮﻧ رد ﻪﻛ يو ةﺪﺸﻧﺮﺸﺘﻨﻣ يﺎﻫ
ةزﻮﻣ يﺎﻫﻮﻴﺷرآ و دراورﺎﻫ هﺎﮕﺸﻧاد ،ﺎﻴﻧاﻮﻠﻴﺴﻨﭘ هﺎﮕﺸﻧاد ﺔﺴﺳﺆهﺪﺷ يراﺪﻬﮕﻧ نﺎﻴﻧﻮﺴﺘﻴﻤﺳا
ﻲﻣ دزادﺮﭘ .ﺦﻳرﺎﺗ ﻦﻴﻨﭽﻤﻫ زا ﺲﭘ ﺎﺗ ﻲﮕﻨﺳ نﺎﻴﻣ زا ﻲﻧﺎﺴﻧا يﺎﻫراﺮﻘﺘﺳا ﻪﺑ ﺐﺴﺘﻨﻣ ﻦﺑﺮﻛﻮﻳدار يﺎﻫ
ﻪﻃﻮﺤﻣ ﻦﻳا نﺎﻴﺸﻨﻣﺎﺨﻫ ﻖﻓا ﻪﺑ ﻪﺟﻮﺗ ﺎﺑ ﺎﻫ ﻲﮕﻨﻫﺮﻓ يﺎﻫهداد ﻦﻳا ﻪﻛ هﺪﻣآ ﺖﺳد ﻪﺑ ﺎﻬﻧآ زا ﺎﻫ ،ﺪﻧا
ﺪﻨﺘﻓﺮﮔ راﺮﻗ دﺪﺠﻣ ﻪﺒﺳﺎﺤﻣ و نﻮﻴﺳاﺮﺒﻴﻟﺎﻛ درﻮﻣ .ﻪﺘﺸﻬﻧ ﻲﻟاﻮﺗ ﻪﻣادا رد يزﺎﺳزﺎﺑ ﻲﮕﻨﻫﺮﻓ يﺎﻫ
ﻪﻳﻻ و هﺪﺷ ﻪﻨﻴﻟﺎﻔﺳ ﺪﺟاو يﺎﻫ راﺮﻗ ﻲﻳﺎﺳﺎﻨﺷ درﻮﻣ ﻮﺗﻮ رﺎﻏ رد ﻲﭙﺳﺎﻛ ﻲﮕﻨﺳﻮﻧ ﻪﺑ ﺐﺴﺘﻨﻣ يﺎﻫ
ﺖﻓﺮﮔ .ﻪﻨﻴﻟﺎﻔﺳ ﻦﻳا ﺎﺑ يﺮﻴﮕﻤﺸﭼ ﻪﺑﺎﺸﺗ هﻮﺟو ياراد ﺎﻫهداد و ﻦﺳﻮﺘﺴﺌﻴﻠﭘ يﺎﻬﺘﻧا ﻲﻟﺎﻔﺳ يﺎﻫ
و زرورﺎﻜﺷ ﻊﻣاﻮﺟ ﻲﻳاﺪﺘﺑا ﻦﺳﻮﻟﻮﻫﻊﻤﺟ يروآ ﺎﻴﺳاروا طﺎﻘﻧ ﻲﺼﻗا رد هﺪﻨﻨﻛ) مد يﺎﻫرﺎﻏ ﻞﻣﺎﺷ
نﺎﺘﺴﻨﻤﻛﺮﺗ رد ﻞِﺒِﺟ و ﻪﻤﺸﭼ مد (هداد زا ﻚﻔﻨﻣ لﺎﺣ ﻦﻴﻋ رد و هدﻮﺑ رد دﻮ ﺮﺼﻋ ﻢﻫ يﺎﻫ
1. نﺎﺘﺳﺎﺑ مﻮﻠﻋ رد ﻲﺸﻫوﮋﭘ رﺎﻴﺘﺳد ﺳرﺪﻣ ،ﻲﺳﺎﻨﺷﺮﺘﺴﻣ ﻚﻣ هﺎﮕﺸﻧاد ،ﻦﻴﻣز مﻮﻠﻋ و ﺎﻴﻓاﺮﻐﺟ ـ زﻮﻣ ةنﺎﺘﺳﺎﺑ نﺎﺴﻧا و ﻲﺳﺎﻨﺷ ﺎﻴﻧاﻮﻠﻴﺴﻨﭘ هﺎﮕﺸﻧاد ﻲﺳﺎﻨﺷ.
2. ﻮﻀﻋﺘﻴﻤﻛﺶﻫوﮋ ﺎﻴﻓاﺮﻐﺟ ﻲﻠﻣ ﻦﻤﺠﻧا ،فﺎﺸﺘﻛا و ـ زﻮﻣ ةنﺎﺘﺳﺎﺑ نﺎﺴﻧا و ﻲﺳﺎﻨﺷ ﺎﻴﻧاﻮﻠﻴﺴﻨﭘ هﺎﮕﺸﻧاد ﻲﺳﺎﻨﺷ.
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ﺪﻨﺘﺴﻫ ﻪﻧﺎﻴﻣروﺎﺧ رد يزروﺎﺸﻛ زﺎﻏآ يﺎﻫراﺮﻘﺘﺳا .ﺘﺑا يﺎﻫﺰﻴﻟﺎﻧآ ﻮﺗﻮﻫ رﺎﻏ يﺎﻬﻟﺎﻔﺳ ﻪﻋﻮﻤﺠﻣ ﻲﻳاﺪ
ﺘﻨﻣ يﺮﮕﻟﺎﻔﺳ ﺖﻨﺳ ﻦﻳا ﻪﻛ ﺖﺳا ﻦﻳا زا ﻲﻛﺎﺣﻪﻳﻻ ظﺎﺤﻟ ﻪﺑ ﻲﭙﺳﺎﻛ ﻲﮕﻨﺳﻮﻧ ﻪﺑ ﺐﺴ رد يرﺎﮕ
ﻪﻳﻻ ﻪﺑ طﻮﺑﺮﻣ هﺪﻳد تراﺮﺣ ﻲﻠﮔ ءﺎﻴﺷا يﻻﺎﺑ ﻪﻳﻻ ﺮﻳز رد و ﻪﺘﺷاد راﺮﻗ ﻲﮕﻨﺳ نﺎﻴﻣ يﺎﻫ يﺎﻫ
ﺎﺑ هﺪﺷ ﻪﺘﺧﺎﺳ تﺎﻌﻄﻗ ﻢﻫ و ﻲﻠﻋ ﻪﻤﺸﭼ يﺎﻬﻟﺎﻔﺳ ﻢﻫ دﻮﺧ رد ﻪﻛ ﺖﺳا ﻲﮕﻨﻫﺮﻓﻚﻴﻨﻜﺗ يﺎﻫ
ﺖﺳاراد ار ﻲﻠﻋ ﻪﻤﺸﭼ و ﻲﮕﻨﺳ نﺎﻴﻣ ﺎﺑ طﻮﻠﺨﻣ . ﻪﻛ ﺖﺳا ﺐﻠﻄﻣ ﻦﻳا ﺮﮕﻧﺎﻴﺑ ﻲﻋﻮﻧ ﻪﺑ ﻖﻴﻔﻠﺗ ﻦﻳا
لﺎﻤﺘﺣا ﻪﺑﺔﻴﺷﺎﺣ ﻦﻴﻨﻛﺎﺳ ﻲﻣﻮﺑ ﻲﮕﻨﻫﺮﻓ يﺎﻬﺘﻨﺳ رد ﻲﺗﺪﻣ زا ﺲﭘ نارﺪﻧزﺎﻣ يﺎﻳرد قﺮ بﻮﻨﺟ
ﻪﻛ ﻪﭽﻧآﻪﻤﻴﻧ ﻊﻣاﻮﺟ يﺮﮕﻟﺎﻔﺳ ﺖﻨﺳ ﻪﺑ فوﺮﻌﻣ ﻪﻟﺎﺤﺘﺳا ،ﺖﺳا ناﺮﻬﺗ ﺖﺷد يوﺮﭼﻮﻛ زروﺎﺸﻛ
ﺖﺳا هﺪﻳدﺮﮔ . درﻮﻣ يﺎﻬﺷور رد مﺎﺠﺴﻧا مﺪﻋ ﻪﻛ ﺖﺷاد ﺮﻈﻧ رد ﺰﻴﻧ ار ﻪﺘﻜﻧ ﻦﻳا ﻲﺘﺴﻳﺎﺑ ﺪﻨﭼﺮﻫ
هداد ﺖﺷادﺮﺑ و شوﺎﻛ نﺎﻣز رد هدﺎﻔﺘﺳا ﻮﻫ رد ﺎﻫ ﺪﻨﺑﺮﻤﻛ و ﻮﺗ)ةﺪﻳﺪﻋ تﻼﻜﺸﻣ هوﻼﻌﺑ رد يرﺎﻣآ
ﻦﺳ زا هدﺎﻔﺘﺳا ﻦﻳزﺎﻏآ يﺎﻬﻟﺎﺳ صﻮﺼ ﻲﺑﺎﻳ ﻨﺑﺮﻛ ﻮﻳدار يﺎﻫ ( ناﻮﺘﺑ ﻪﻛ ﺪﻨﺘﺴﻫ ﻦﻳا زا ﻊﻧﺎﻣ
ﺞﻳﺎﺘﻧﻲﻟاﻮﺗ صﻮﺼﺧ رد ﻲﻳﺎﻜﺗا درﻮﻣ و ﻲﻌﻄ ةزﺎﺑ ﻦﻳا رد يراﺮﻘﺘﺳا يﺎﻫارا ﻲﻧﺎﻣز دﻮﻤﻧ ﻪﺋ .
مﺪﻋ ﻦﻴﻤﻫ ﺖﻴﻌﻄﻗ ﻲﺳﺎﻨﺷزﺎﺑ فﺪﻫ ﺎﺑ ﺮﺘﺸﻴﺑ ﻲﻧاﺪﻴﻣ يﺎﻫرﺎﻛ ﻪﺑ مﺮﺒﻣ زﺎﻴﻧ ﺎﺗ هﺪﻳدﺮﮔ ﻦﻳﺪﺑ ﺮﺠﻨﻣ ﺎﻫ
يﺎﻫﺪﻨﻳاﺮﻓﺳآ بﺮﻏ رد ﻦﻴﺸﻧﺎﺘﺳور ﻊﻣاﻮﺟ ﻦﻴﺘﺴﺨﻧ ﺶﻳاﺪﻴﭘ رد ﺮﺛ يﺎﻬﺘﻧا رد يﺰﻛﺮﻣ يﺎﻴ
ددﺮﮔ سﻮﺴﺤﻣ ﺶﻴﭘ زا ﺶﻴﺑ ناﺪﻨﺒﺨﻳ ﺮﺼﻋ ﻦﻳﺮﺧآ.
يﺪﻴﻠﻛ نﺎﮔژاو :،ﻲﮕﻨﺳﻮﻧ ،ﻲﮕﻨﺳ نﺎﻴﻣ ،ﻦﻳزﺎﻏآ ﻦﺳﻮﻟﻮﻫ ،ﺮﺧﺎﺘﻣ ﻦﺳﻮﺘﺴﺌﻴﻠﭘ ،ﻮﺗﻮﻫ رﺎ ،ﺪﻨﺑﺮﻤﻛ رﺎﻏ
ﻦﺳ ،ﻲﻠﻋ ﻪﻤﺸﭼ يﺮﮕﻟﺎﻔﺳ ﺖﻨﺳ ،ﻲﭙﺳﺎﻛ يﺮﮕﻟﺎﻔﺳ ﺖﻨﺳ ﻦﺑﺮﻛ ﻮﻳدار ﻲﺠﻨﺳ
... 9500 cal BP). The pre-pottery Neolithic (PPN) at the Kamarband cave was recently dated to 8140-7910 cal BP (Gregg and Thornton 2012) and the pottery Neolithic to 7650 cal BP (Gregg and Thornton 2012). The presence of domesticated species of caprids is evidenced for the first time in the PPN layers of Kamarband cave. ...
... 9500 cal BP). The pre-pottery Neolithic (PPN) at the Kamarband cave was recently dated to 8140-7910 cal BP (Gregg and Thornton 2012) and the pottery Neolithic to 7650 cal BP (Gregg and Thornton 2012). The presence of domesticated species of caprids is evidenced for the first time in the PPN layers of Kamarband cave. ...
... The Mesolithic occupation was dated to approximately 11,000-8000 ka cal BP (c. 12,800-8900 cal BP), followed by the Early Neolithic and pottery Neolithic periods (Harris 2010, p. 57;Gregg and Thornton 2012). The faunal data shows that domesticated ovicaprids were present in all the Neolithic layers (Coon 1952). ...
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Until recently, the Iranian Central Plateau (ICP) was considered to have been unoccupied at the end of the Pleistocene (Marshall 2012 in ‘Missing Links: Demic Diffusion and the Development of Agriculture on the Central Iranian Plateau’. Durham University e-Theses. http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/3547/), raising questions about the mechanisms that drove Neolithic diffusion in this area. However, recent field data has provided new insights into the rise of domestication here. Reassessment of the local chronology during the Early Holocene reveals consistent occupation of the ICP throughout the Epipaleolithic/Mesolithic. Plant and animal remains indicate that Mesolithic communities preserved a purely foraging lifestyle, yet data for the Early Neolithic shows that communities produced fully domesticated resources. This clear economic rupture suggests the introduction of farming technologies from other regions. Additionally, the central geographic position of the ICP between the Zagros and western Central Asia, and the correspondence in material culture between the eastern sites of the ICP and the Zagros suggest that the region was a hot spot of connections favourable to the eastward diffusion of the Neolithic.
... 9500 cal BP). The pre-pottery Neolithic (PPN) at the Kamarband cave was recently dated to 8140-7910 cal BP (Gregg and Thornton 2012) and the pottery Neolithic to 7650 cal BP (Gregg and Thornton 2012). The presence of domesticated species of caprids is evidenced for the first time in the PPN layers of Kamarband cave. ...
... 9500 cal BP). The pre-pottery Neolithic (PPN) at the Kamarband cave was recently dated to 8140-7910 cal BP (Gregg and Thornton 2012) and the pottery Neolithic to 7650 cal BP (Gregg and Thornton 2012). The presence of domesticated species of caprids is evidenced for the first time in the PPN layers of Kamarband cave. ...
... The Mesolithic occupation was dated to approximately 11,000-8000 ka cal BP (c. 12,800-8900 cal BP), followed by the Early Neolithic and pottery Neolithic periods (Harris 2010, p. 57;Gregg and Thornton 2012). The faunal data shows that domesticated ovicaprids were present in all the Neolithic layers (Coon 1952). ...
Article
Full-text available
Until recently, the Iranian Central Plateau (ICP) was considered to have been unoccupied at the end of the Pleistocene (Marshall 2012 in 'Missing Links: Demic Diffusion and the Development of Agriculture on the Central Iranian Plateau'. Durham University e-Theses. http://ethes es.dur.ac.uk/3547/), raising questions about the mechanisms that drove Neolithic diffusion in this area. However, recent field data has provided new insights into the rise of domestication here. Reassessment of the local chronology during the Early Holocene reveals consistent occupation of the ICP throughout the Epipaleolithic/Mesolithic. Plant and animal remains indicate that Mesolithic communities preserved a purely foraging lifestyle, yet data for the Early Neolithic shows that communities produced fully domesticated resources. This clear economic rupture suggests the introduction of farming technologies from other regions. Additionally, the central geographic position of the ICP between the Zagros and western Central Asia, and the correspondence in material culture between the eastern sites of the ICP and the Zagros suggest that the region was a hot spot of connections favourable to the eastward diffusion of the Neolithic.
... BC. However, in many instances the hurried methods used in excavation prevent us from clearly differentiating between hunting and gathering and food-producing occupations at these rock shelters (Gregg and Thornton, 2012). The lack of rigour in the recording and curation of finds also restricts our ability to determine whether innovations in subsistence practices at Belt and Hotu Caves, such as the emergence of 'soft ware' pottery vessels (Dyson, 1991; Gregg and Thornton, 2012), originated at these sites or were adopted from cultures in adjacent regions. ...
... However, in many instances the hurried methods used in excavation prevent us from clearly differentiating between hunting and gathering and food-producing occupations at these rock shelters (Gregg and Thornton, 2012). The lack of rigour in the recording and curation of finds also restricts our ability to determine whether innovations in subsistence practices at Belt and Hotu Caves, such as the emergence of 'soft ware' pottery vessels (Dyson, 1991; Gregg and Thornton, 2012), originated at these sites or were adopted from cultures in adjacent regions. Beyond brief mentions in Coon's (1951 and preliminary reports of the discovery of sickle blades, stone mortars, pestles, querns and a small number of unidentified seeds in aceramic and pottery-bearing Neolithic levels at Belt Cave and pottery-bearing Neolithic levels at Hotu Cave, these artefacts and botanical specimens remain unpublished. ...
... The radiocarbon assays from Coon's 1949 and1951 excavations at Belt and Hotu Caves employed Libby's initial calculation of the half-life of 14 C of 5568 ± 30 years. Published radiocarbon ages, provided by Libby (1951) and Ralph (1955), have been recalculated using the more accurate Cambridge half-life for 14 C of 5730 ± 40 years (Gregg and Thornton, 2012). These radiocarbon ages and those initially published for Ali Tappeh by McBurney (1968) have been calibrated at 95.4% (2 sigma) probability using the Oxcal program (v4.3) of C. Bronk Ramsey and the INTCAL13 dataset (Reimer et al., 2013). ...
... Les occupations né olithiques de ce site semblent être dues à des apports externes, tandis que les liens entre sa poterie et d'autres objets avec à la fois des assemblages du centre du plateau Iranien (Tepe Sialk) et le site de Djeitun au Turkmé nistan suggè rent une diffusion d'ouest en est jusqu'en Asie Centrale (Matthews, 2019 : 14 ;Weeks, 2013a : 62-64 ;Harris, 2010 ;Pollock et al., 2019 ;voir aussi Brunet, 2021 : 45). Certains chercheurs pensent par ailleurs que l'artisanat de la poterie put avoir é té inventé indé pendamment entre le nord-est de l'Elbourz et les ré gions au sud-est de la mer Caspienne et que cet artisanat diffusa ensuite au sud de l'Elbourz, à Sang-e Chakhmaq (Gregg et Thornton, 2012). ...
Article
Résumé La naissance de l’agriculture à l’est du Croissant Fertile, sur le plateau Iranien et jusqu’en Asie centrale et en Asie du Sud, est relativement mal connue. L’aire concernée est vaste et les données archéologiques liées à cette période, le Néolithique, y sont extrêmement limitées. La plupart des chercheurs s’accordent à penser que la pratique de la domestication des plantes et des animaux y fut introduite depuis l’Asie du Sud-Ouest, au même titre qu’en Europe. Émergeant dans le Croissant Fertile, entre le Levant, l’Anatolie et le Zagros, il y a 12.000 à 11.000 ans, la pratique agricole se serait ainsi répandue ensuite à d’autres régions plus à l’est, à travers le plateau Iranien jusqu’en Asie centrale et dans le Nord-Ouest du Sous-continent indien, à partir des VIIIe et VIIe millénaires avant notre ère. Dans cet article, nous exposons les principales sources d’informations disponibles sur ce thème en particulier en ce qui concerne les confins indo-iraniens, entre le sud-est de l’Iran et le Pakistan. Nous présentons les principales données relatives aux changements paléoclimatiques, ainsi que les principales données paléogénétiques et archéologiques disponibles. Nous concluons par une synthèse et une discussion des éléments rassemblés, en évoquant les reconstructions que ces éléments nous permettent de proposer, les problèmes ou les difficultés liés à la recherche sur les premiers villages agricoles et quelques pistes de recherche.
... The early samples of potteries (sherds or wares, that seem more hand-made, chaff-tempered) are found in Neolithic sites as those in Deh Luran and Khuzestan lowland regions. They are located in western and south-western Iran, in early villages within the Zagros Mountain, some in Neolithic caves of northern Iran and other in Neolithic sites round the Plateau [3][4][5][6][7][8]. The technology was improved further during Chalcolithic (ca. ...
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A collection of pottery vessels uncovered during the first season of excavations in the Deh Dumen Bronze Age graveyard (the second half of the third millennium BC) located in south-western Iran were studied by using chemical, mineralogical and physical techniques, with the aim to identify the pottery manufacturing process in this region. The site is located in a region of the Zagros fold and thrust belt that includes carbonate rocks and alluvial deposits. The pottery vessels found in the site present two different fabric types in their fresh surface: bright yellowish hue fabric (TYPE-1) and sandwich-like or black core fabric (TYPE-2) showing presumably different production techniques or workshops. Twenty-four samples from pottery sherds were selected and analysed by X-ray fluorescence (XRF), powder X-ray diffraction (XRD), polarized light microscopy (PLM), and field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM). Hydric tests were also performed. Samples were different according to their chemistry having distinguished calcium-rich and calcium-poor ceramics. Al 2 O 3 and Fe 2 O 3 were detected as the other main components of samples besides SiO 2 and CaO. The mineralogical and textural characterisation revealed a fine-grained clayey matrix with quartz and feldspar grains in TYPE-1 potteries and large and small calcitic and clayey lumps inclusions in TYPE-2 potteries. Imprints of straw or other plants can be responsible for the higher porosity of some of the potteries. It was found that most of the potteries from the Deh Dumen graveyard were produced by means of a local and traditional pottery manufacturing technique, whilst others may have been produced in different places and transported to the graveyard as ritual offerings.
Conference Paper
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Pressure technique in microblade production has long been recognized in Neolithic chipped stone assemblages of southeastern Caspian Sea and core preparation methods and reduction sequences have been introduced as prismatic “bullet cores”. By differentiating between production “techniques” and “methods”, a distinction between microblade production methods becomes clear in chipped stone assemblages from Mesolithic to Neolithic and later periods, mostly from cave sites of Komishan, Kamarband, Hotu and Ali Tappeh (aka Al Tappeh). Bifacial preparation of microbladecores is only apparent in post-Mesolithic assemblages in Caspian sites. These cores, introduced in Far East assemblages as “Yubetsu”, have been widely recognized in lithic industries from southern Siberia, northern China, Japan, and the New World Arctic and as west as Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. They are considered as fossil index in tracing cultural relationships between these regions since 1930s. This research introduces the similar techniques observed in preparing variants of narrow-faced cores, mainly in Komishan and Al Tappeh, which are the type sites of Caspian Mesolithic and Neolithic, and a discussion regarding the transfer of either technical knowledge or displacement of populations, or a local development at the end of the Pleistocene and during the Early Holocene follows; as this is the initial identification and research on Narrow-faced cores in Iran, a conclusive inference must wait for further assemblages to be added to the discussion.
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Carlton Stevens Coon is one of the most prominent figures in the Prehistoric Archaeology of Iran. He conducted the first systematic field expeditions in the Iranian Archaeology at 70 years ago. For many years his works have been taught in the Iranian universities. Now and after almost seventy years, a need for critical review of his works sounds inevitable. In this research, such review was performed based on five categories: theoretical approaches of the field works, degree of specialty, field work approaches, data collecting methods and data processing procedures. The results indicate that his theoretical and practical approaches have suffered from many weaknesses. Coon’s main concern was to find human remains (Neanderthals in particular) rather than conducting clean archaeology excavations. On the other hand, his horrifyingly racist publications, rumors about his employment as an intelligence operative by the CIA during the WW II and the Cold War, plus countless unanswered questions concerning the sites he chose to excavate in Iran, all support this hypothesis that Archaeology was not his first priority in Iran. Key Words: Archaeology, Paleolithic, Carlton Coon, Neanderthal man, CIA
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