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JUNE, 1941
Within the last ten years excavation has made available a
fairly large body of material which has greatly augmented the knowl
edge of the early periods in Iran.
With this material it is now
possible to sketch the outlines of the history and the changes in
culture in this land.
The skeleton history which results from a
teohnical study of the comparative stratigraphy of early Iran^ is,
of course, subject to revision when new excavation produces more
evidence or unpublished material appears.
This article endeavors,
therefore, to present only such a picture of early Iran as can be
produced In the light of our present knowledge.
The earliest known culture in Iran appears in the northcentral part of that land at Tepe Slyalk near Kashan and at
Chashmah-i-'All (Rayy) near Teheran.
It may be conveniently
called the Siyalk culture.
Its position relative to the estab­
lished Mesopotamian sequence cannot be precisely determined since
connections with regions outside Iran are lacking.
The following
period, however, is contemporary with the Halaf period,
so it
is likely that the Siyalk culture overlaps the beginning of the
Halaf period and is as early as the pre-Halaf cultures of north­
ern Mesopotamia and Syria.
It is of considerable interest that
at this early time the peoples In this part of Iran should be
mixed racially.
in his study of the Siyalk skeletal
material, defines the two groups present in Siyalk I as hyperdolichocephalic and dolichocephalic, considering what they repre1Donald E. McCown, The Comparative Stratigraphy of Early°
Iran ("Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization,"No. 23 [Chicago:
fhe University of Chicago Press, in preparation]). In this study
is to be found much of the evidence for statements made in this
article.The page references to this work are to its manuscript fora
^Ibid.,' pp. 15 ff. See Table 1, infra, p. 26, and Table 2,
infra, p. 27.
gIbld.. pp. 35 ff.
H. V.Vallois, "Lee ossements humains de Slalk," in R.
Ghirshman, Foullles de Slalk pres de Kashan 1933. 1934. 1937
sent proto-Iranian and proto-Mediterraniah groups respectively.
In addition, it is possible that a brachycephalic element, whioh
he calls Alpine, was already present.
These people were a self-contained group successfully
using the resouroes d o s e at hand in exercising a considerable de­
gree of control over nature.
They were independent enough to
have their own settled dwellings with walls of beaten mud, to cut
grain with flint blades set in bone holders, and to grind it on
saddle-shaped querns.
tloated sheep
They had at least one variety of domes-
so that they were not purely dependent on hunting
for a meat supply.
Indeed the basic features of life which are
characteristic of Iran down to present times were already present.
It is unlikely that metal had been long in use.
The forms of
the awls and pins are simple in the extreme; they are hammered
and the metal awls had not begun to displace the bone awls.
supply of copper was at hand not far to the south of Siyalk.
The pottery developed throughout the period but was still
technically a somewhat simple product.
Both a light-surfaced ware
and a red ware were used.
That we are here close to the
theoretical period when pottery was copying basketry is far from
Certain ceramic features which are soon present indicate
that these are not first attempts at making pottery.
That the
designs at first are all on the interior of the vessels is strange
if the makers were near to a stage when baskets were closely
In this connection it is also odd that the designs which
look most like those derived from basketry
do not occur until
the middle of this period at Siyalk.
Spindle:whorls imply the making of yarn and weaving.
Aside from a simple flint Industry, stone was worked into useful
objeots, though the available material suggests an increase in
this industry toward the end of the period when stone was used
(Muaee du Louvre, Departement des Antiqultes Orientales, Serie
Aroheologique, To*e V [Paris: Paul Geuthner, 1939]), II, 113-92.
5Ibid.. p. 160.
6 r . Vaufrey, "Faune de Slalk,11 in R. Ghirshman, Foullles
de Slalk pres de Kashan. 1933. 1934. 1937 (Musee du Louvre, De­
partement des Antiqultes Orientates, Serie Aroheologique, Tome V
LParis: Paul Geuthner, 1939]), II, 197.
7McCown, op. olt.. p. 3.
Sibld.. p. 2.
®R. Ghirshman, Foullles de Slalk pres de Kashan 1933.
1934, 1937 (Musee du Louvre, Departement des Antiqultes Orientales,
-3for bracelets and beads.
Life must have been relatively peaceful
for the extant armament Is simple and limited, comprising stone
maceheads and clay sling balls.
Stone axes and adzes should have
permitted wood working and could have been used as hoes.
The pottery design affords some slight perception of the
mentality of the people themselves.
Though the geometric ele­
ments of the design may doubtless have had a meaning other than
purely decorative, these people did apply them In a loosely
decorative series of not too elaborate compositions.
The rhythm
of repeated and opposed units and of the zigzag was appreciated.
The bone holders for the flint blades were also decorated with
animal heads and In a unique example with the figure of a man
whose face Is unfortunately missing.
He wears a garment coming
down to the knees with a belt at the waist, and a conical hat.
The dead were burled within the village In a tightly
flexed position In a trench In the earth and were covered with
red ochre.
Mortuary gifts were unusual If not actually absent.
Two Infants were found, one burled In a coarse Jar, the other
merely covered with Jar sherds.
So far as we know the forces of
nature which Impress all primitive peoples were not represented
In any recognizable form, with the possible exception of the orna­
ment of the bone and stone flint-blade holders.
Knowing this culture from but two sites at no great dis­
tance from each other, we can say nothing as to Its extent.
There are some Indications that the Siyalk culture was
the result of a fusion of two cultures typified by a light-sur­
faced pottery and a red ware.10
Though this view is tentative
and needs confirmation, It Is not unlikely that people with a
culture characterized by red pottery mixed with others typified
by light-surfaced pottery and in the latter part of the period
gradually gained a predominance which became complete in the suc­
ceeding Ghashmah All period.11
The cranial material is too
limited to allow itself to be correlated with the change in ma­
terial culture.
The proto-Mediterranean and proto-Iranian groups
Serie Aroheologique, Tome V [Paris:
Plate XXXIX S. 1568.
10McCown, op. clt.. pp. 2 f.
^ Ibld. , p. 16.
Paul Geuthner, 1938]), I,
-4oontlnued and the Alpine element is now certainly represented.
The men of the Chashmah All culture were no longer con­
fined to their own small region for their resources.
Shells from
the Persian Gulf and turquoise from Khorasan
were brought to
Siyalk and indicate that the world was opening up somewhat.
very extent of this culture from Anau In the northwest to Saveh
In the west and Kashan In the south Is Impressive.
The change from the Siyalk to the Chashmah All period Is
gradual, but a series of new traits which appear In the latter
period clearly distinguish one from the other.
The new period
shows Improvement In techniques and tools.
Dwellings become more
sophisticated with the use of hand-made bricks, at first In the
floors and then In the walls, which were also covered with mud
plaster and sometimes painted.
Some metal awls were strengthened
by partially reotangular oross-sectlons.
Though not many metal
objects were found at Siyalk, the use of copper may be assumed
to have been commoner, for the number of bone awls deoreases.
Stone and flint tools were still common and to the older types
was added a prismatic drill, while the stone axes and hoes were
Improved by partially polishing the chipped surfaces.
It was now
also possible to make vessels or beads from hard stones.
The pottery Is technically Improved, though It derives
from the red ware of the Siyalk culture.
It may have been
fired In ovens, such as that found In the first phase of the suc­
ceeding period at Siyalk, with a controlled draft, although the
fuel and the vessels to be baked were still placed In the same
The forms of the clay vessels at Siyalk are not so
markedly advanced over those of the preceding period, though
this Is less true at Chashmah-1-1All.
There is a decided improve­
ment, however, In the design. After a transitional phase at
Siyalk, when designs of the Siyalk period had been replaced al­
most completely, there are both an increase In the number of ele­
ments used and an improvement in their orderly arrangement, as
well as new methods of composition.
The smooth profiles of the
vessels do not aid In a tectonic application of the design to
particular areas; but the smooth curves are finely emphasized by
12Ghirshman, op. clt., I, 31, 33.
13j(cCown, op. clt. . pp. 151, 153 f.
14Ibld.. p. 4.
-5the vertical lines which run from the zones of design at the
to the bases of the vessels.
also appears.
An appreciation of the curvilinear
The appearance of natural design Is a real depar­
ture, and may possibly be attributed to Influence from another
The natural designs are rendered In a decorative fashion
and witness.genuine artistic achievements which still give
pleasure to the observer. Contrasting strongly with vibrant ibex,
waves of dust rising from their heels, is a wooden, geometric type
of animal.
Thus the people of this period were as far ahead of the
men of the Siyalk period artistically as they were technically.
That this design Is still not too highly sophisticated is clearly
observable in the loose composition of zones of ibex or other ele­
If the presence of a more highly developed reportoire of
designs and ceramic forms may be interpreted as meaning that a site
is close to the focus of a culture, we could consider that Chashmahi-'All is nearer the center of this culture than Siyalk.
There is no indication in the Chashmah All period to sug­
gest that the fundamental mode of life had changed.
pig and dog belonged to the people at this time and possibly also
the horse.1®
The same domesticated animals are found in the con1A
temporary level at Anau
if we may assume that the Bos taurus at
Siyalk is also domesticated.
That the men who caused the accumu­
lation of the lower part of this level at Anau were without domes­
ticated animals17 may be explained by noting the peripheral loca­
tion of this site.
Anau does, however, provide information as to
the grains used, Trltlchum vulgaris and Hordeum dlstlchum.
Funerary customs were unchanged from the Siyalk period.
A mental change, however, may perhaps be detected in the use of
figurines of the flock In baked d a y and stone.
At Anau in Turkestan the Chashmah All culture is found
in a peripheral form, although as in Iran proper it shows a
tradition continuing from the Siyalk culture.1®
15Vallois, op. clt., pp. 195-97.
l®The upper part of Anau I A (below ±0 feet).
17r . Pumpelly et al . , Explorations in Turkestan.
tion of 1904. Prehl8torlc~~Clvlllzatlons of Anau (Washington,
D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1^08), I, 35.
18Ibld., II, 472-73.
19McCown. op. clt., p. 17.
By the time of the Chashmah All period another culture was
settled In Iran In a much more extensive area covering the region
from at least the Kirmanshah-Hamadan road southward through all
the western mountain zone and then southeast Into the present
provinces of Fare, Laristan and Kirman.
This civilization is
known as the buff-ware culture and manifested Itself in variant
forms in the various sub-regions.
Closest to the area of the Chashmah All culture Is Tepe
Giyan which lies to the southeast of Kirmanshahv
Here, in the
fifth and lowest level, are found four stages of this' culture.
In the lowest stage, A,is found a form of the buff-ware culture
whloh is undoubtedly contemporaneous with the Chashmah All
The next higher phase, B, shows some change from the
preceding remains ceramlcally and probably represents a differ­
ent aspect of the buff ware culture.
It, too, is contemporary
with the Chashmah All period though it may overlap the beginning
of the succeeding Hissar period of north-central and north21
eastern Iran.
At contemporary Glyan, though the mode of life
was doubtless much the same as in the Chashmah All culture,
civilization was apparently not so advanced.
Beaten earth was
used for walls, sometimes on stone foundations, and.,the first ap­
pearance of metal is reoorded.
Mention has already been made of the probability that
the Chashmah All period is contemporaneous with the Halaf period.
The appearance, therefore, of Halaflan Influence at the very end
of the second phase and the beginning of the third phase (C) at
Giyan suggests the possibility that this represents the end of
the Halaf period before the incoming Ubald peoples.
This in­
fluence may be the result^of the retreat of some of the peoples
of the Halaf culture into the mountains to the east of their
home; more likely, it is due to the'interaction of the Halaf and
the Ubald which was still in contact with its home region.
Only in Fars are other remains contemporary with the
Chashmah All period known.
The earliest culture of Tall-i-Bakun,
B, of a very simple type, may be neolithic or epl-neollthic
20MeCown, op. clt.. p. 17.
2*Ibid., p. 18.
22See n. 3.
2gMcCown. op. clt.. p. 35 and Fig. 2.
-7slnce it is possibly conteoporary with the Siyalk period. The
succeeding culture
affords the earliest appearance of the buffware culture in this region, while showing no indications of re­
lationship with the earlier oulture of this site. Not much is
known of this early buff-ware aspect except for its pottery.
however, indicates contemporaneity with the first phase of the
Giyan buff-ware variant, the Chashmah All period, and Samarra
in northern Mesopotamia.
Returning to the northeast of Iran, we discover that,
following the Chashmah All oulture, a new one has appeared, known
as the Hlssar culture.
This period is perhaps the most signifi­
cant epoch in the early history of Iran, as indicated by the ap­
pearance of the potter's wheel and open-mold casting. During
the period Itself there is considerable change, ending with the
coming of a completely new oulture.
Yet the basic mode of life
remained founded on agriculture and animal husbandry and the
physical types were still the same.
Outside contacts may have
Increased but there is no evidence to suggest that any village
produced goods other than semiprecious stone for export.
No attempt can be made to explain the changes which oc­
curred between the end of the Chashmah All and the beginning of
the Hlssar period.
It is clear at Siyalk that the beginning of
a new period (III) marks the disappearance of oertaln features,
such as red oohre burials, which had oontinued from the founda­
tion of the site.
Certain elements do continue from the Chashmah
All period, so there was no abrupt break, but a variety of new
features appear.
There is a continuous change throughout the
period, particularly in the ceramics, which suggests very strong­
ly that there was increasing pressure from the regions of the
buff-ware oulture to the southwest and south.
At the very end
of the period, certain peoples of the Hlssar culture moved west­
ward, doubtless before pressure from invaders who made unpainted,
gray pottery, trace of whom is found in the topmost phase of
Giyan V.27
24Bakun B 2; ibid..pp. 24 f.
26Ibid., pp. 8 f.
Ibid. , p. 19.
25Ibld.. pp. 25 f., 36 ff.
-8The numerous subdivisions of the level representing this
period at Siyalk provide the best information for the development
of oulture in the Hlssar period; but the same oulture is repre­
sented at a good many sites in the northeast.
At Chashmah-i-'Ali
it is known and seems to have oome to an end at about the time of
the fifth phase of Siyalk III.
From what is known at present of
the Chashmah-i-'All material, the two sites seem to have a nearly
identical culture.
Close to the beginning of the period at Siyalk
the site of Tepe Hlssar was ocoupled.
Its first phase (Hlssar I
A) derives from the Chashmah All culture, though from a provincial
form like that already encountered at Anau.
In the succeeding
two phases at Hissar, changes similar to those in Siyalk III are
encountered, including those attributable to buff-ware culture
Hissar I, however, is throughout peripheral to the
Hissar oulture,
and may have come to an end a little earlier
than the close of the period at Siyalk; but the end of both is
to be connected with the lnooming of peoples making unpainted,
gray pottery.®0
In the upper part of the first level at Anau®^
little change can be detected from the earlier phase of this
level, for Anau I throughout is a provincial form of the Chashmah
All culture and never experienced the changes which occurred
during the Hlssar period at Siyalk, Ghashmah-l-'All and Hlssar.
The wheel and cast metal remained unknown.
The end of Anau I
can be dated to the end of the Hissar period by inference only,
though evidence does show that Anau I B lasted into the Hlssar
Of village planning In the Hlssar period little can be
said for it hardly existed.
Of house planning we know a little
At both Hissar and Siyalk the corners of the houses are
roughly oriented to the cardinal points, to give the maximum of
Only in Hlssar I C are there enough plans of houses to
show that they are rectangular and roughly quartered inside.
The walls are made of beaten mud or mold-made bricks, which is
a new improvement.
The rooms provide the features common to
all architecture, rectangular windows, door Jambs with curved
or rectangular ends, more primitive creep holes, and fixed hearths.
28Ibld. , p. 11.
29Ibld.,p. 13
-9Wall niches inside the houses occur toward the end of the period,
as do buttressed outer walls.
There is no suggestion that the
buildings with buttressed walls are of more than ordinary impor­
tance, for their walls are the same width and need support no
more than do the other house walls.
Not only does the technique of casting copper appear
about the middle of the period, but the use of metal appears to
be much increased.
This part of Iran had at last entered the
Copper Age. Celts and adses of copper had nearly replaced the
stone axes and hoes. Serviceable knives and chisels were manu­
Various forms of needles and awls had caused bone awls
to disappear.
Copper pins appear to have been commoner than here­
tofore. Even vessels were made of copper.
their appearance:
Two new metals make
lead at Anau and silver at Siyalk.
With all these copper tools it is no wonder that vessels
were also made in attractive alabaster and that beads, at Siyalk,
are of elaborate form. Button seals of stone were also a new pro­
duct in this culture.
All culture.
Animal figurines occur as in the Chashmah
It is significant that human figurines have been
found at none of the sites in northeastern Iran.
The black-painted red ware of the Chashmah All culture
which was still being made at the beginning of the Hlssar period
had been replaced toward the end of the latter period by a ware
indistinguishable from that of the buff-ware culture.
At the
same time many designs typical of the buff-ware culture had been
taken over.
Controlled firing of the pottery implies that
during this period a proper kiln with
firing chambers was in use.
separate combustion and
The forms of the vessels are more
elaborate than those of the earlier periods and by the end of the
Hissar period are quite sophisticated.
The designs, which are
well adapted to the forms of the vessels on which they were placed,
show good composition and a very satisfactory variety.
animal style is very different from that of the Chashmah All
period, and is in part intimately related to the buff-ware aspeot
of Fare.
A static charaoter is typical from the beginning and
particularly the ibex progressively lose their decorative charac­
Perhaps naturally connected with this is a slightly greater
interest in natural detail at the end of the period at Siyalk
d^Ibld., pp. 8-10 and pp. 26 f.
— l'Gwhioh oulminates In the combination of various fauna and flora
which gives the impression of a scene.
The period was apparently still peaceful, since the
simple arms of the preceding period were only augmented by the
use of bows and arrows, assured by the discovery of a few arrow
heads at Tepe Hlssar. This does not prove, of course, that the
bow was not used still earlier.
The Hlssar culture differs from its predecessors in the
provision of burial equipment for the deceased, and thus we
learn much concerning the people of this time from the tombs of
Tepe Hissar.
the houses.
The burials are still inside the village or under
Hissar shows a regular funerary orientation, un-
provable in the few graves at Tepe Siyalk, with the body laid
loosely flexed on the right side facing East or West.
The con­
tents of the graves reveals a great love of ornament, something
not so marked at Siyalk.
Both men and women wore necklaces and
head belts; the latter, however, appears to have been more often
part of the male attire.
and rarely anklets.
Only women seem to have worn bracelets
Pins were the other necessity for each in­
dividual, though perhaps less frequently with men than with women.
The dead were well provided with food but it is
of interest that
they were not supplied with tools.
As women were treated to equal or richer interments
than men, their position was not a lowly one.
This is not sur­
prising when we realize that they were never more than one-third
of the adult population. Schmidt's suggestion of polyandry could
well be correct.
Prom the richness of the burial gifts we would
Judge that the middle of Siyalk III (III 5) and the last phase, of
Hlssar I were the most prosperous times of this period.
Contemporary with the Hissar period is a considerable
amount of material from the buff-ware culture. The great distances
between the excavated buff-ware sites of this time, Giyan V
C, D,
Susa I and Tall-l-Bakun A, and the fact that these represent
variant forms of the buff-ware culture and show somewhat differing
development makes generalization as to the buff-ware culture as a
whole uncertain.
At Giyan from the second phase a gradual develo-
ment seems Indicated.
The third phase, which is contemporary
with most of the Hissar period, appears to have been affected by
pressure from other buff-ware aspects to the south and southeast.
Then in the last phase, though buff-ware designs continue, there
ls strong Influence from the Hlssar culture, which must have appeared close to the letter's end.
With this phase the buff-
ware aspect of Tepe Giyan comes to an unexplained end.
Susa I was settled at a date roughly about the beginning
of the Hissar period, though this point cannot yet be fixed with
The deposit has been published as unstratlfled and
therefore no development can be traced.
Sometime during the ac­
cumulation of this stratum appears usually undecorated, red pot­
tery, the bearers of which brought to a close the buff-ware cul­
ture of Tall-i-Bakun A.
On this basis and by comparison with
Siyalk III it is likely that Susa I came to an end a little later
than did the buff-ware aspect of Bakun A.
There Is sufficient
evidence to be fairly certain that Susa I did not end before the
fifth phase of the Hlssar period at Siyalk. Inference from a
comparison of Susa I remains and those of Giyan V C would further
Indicate that Susa I came to an end about the time of the sixth
phase of Siyalk III.36
It Is now established that the buff-ware aspect known
from Musyan and its surrounding sites was in Khuzistan before the
buff-ware variant of Susa I appeared.
Since no published, strati­
fied material of the Musyan aspect exists, it is impossible to
trace Its development or to know when it was first represented in
this area or when it disappeared.
It does show fairly close con­
nections with the buff-ware aspect of Fars, even closer than that
of Susa I.37
In Fars the stratification at Tall-i-Bakun is broken
after the last phase of the B mound (B 2) and only continues
after an interval in the A mound (A 1-4).
There is some change
but this is apparently due only to local development, unless the
Halafian influence, which is difficult to explain may have resulted
in the appearance of certain new features.
In Bakun A up to
the fourth level only local development is apparent, though there
is slight evidence of contact with the Hissar culture.
The buff-
ware aspect of Bakun A had apparently not passed into the Copper
Age, but its civilization was reasonably advanced.
34Ibid., pp. 18 f ., Fig. 8 and notes.
g6Ibld.. pp. 21 f. and Fig. 9.
39Ibld.. pp. 25 And 35 f.
A building
35Ibid., p. 20.
37Ibid., pp. 22 f.
-12wlth buttressed walls, as In the Hlssar culture, the use of moldmade bricks, and plastered and painted walls all point to a respect­
able village architecture.
The houses were clustered In solid
groups with intervening open areas between, In which were located
efficient, pottery ovens with separate combustion and firing cham­
bers, which are also known at Susa I.
All this was brought to an
end by the arrival of people who made unpalnted, red pottery, and,
after an interval, they settled on the site.
Correlation between the buff-ware aspect of Fars and the
Hlssar culture cannot be considered as absolutely certain, but the
most reasonable picture which the available material suggests is
the following:
sar period.
Bakun A began roughly at the beginning of the His­
Throughout the existence of the buff-ware settlement
here there seems to have been pressure on Fars either by the
bearers of the red pottery or by tribes who felt their advance.
This same pressure may have extended as far as Susa and the Musyan
region, and resulted in influence from the buff-ware variants of
Fars and Khuzistan on the Hissar culture, reflected strongly by
the middle of the period (Siyalk III 4-5).
By the sixth phase
of Siyalk III some of the peoples of the buff-ware aspect of Fars
had been displaced, as at Bakun A in level 5, and this resulted
in a flood of buff-ware cultural influence on the Hissar culture
which was augmented slightly later about the end of Susa I.
The regional variation of the different aspects of the
buff-ware culture should now be apparent. One group of their bear­
ers may be recognized as occupying the region of Fars to the
Persian Gulf, another, represented by Musyan, in Khuzistan and
southern Lurlstan, a third is indicated by Susa I, and a fourth
extends from Kuh-i-Dasht to Tepe Giyan in northern Lurlstan,
with probably still another between Susa and central Lurlstan.
These various areas show aspects of the same culture, diverging
from and in part converging on the basis of an as yet unknown,
earlier stage of the buff-ware culture. This diversity is large­
ly shown in pottery design and it may be of greater archeological
39Ibia., p. 33.
40Ibid., pp. 27-30.
41Ibld.. pp. 30-32.
-13than cultural significance, though there might well be some con­
nection with tribal groups.
In the buff-ware culture as a whole, the actual living
conditions and basic way of life was the same as In the cultures
of northeastern Ira, yet compared to that region the story of de­
velopment is almost unknown.
We have no precise information on
domestic animals, though the animal figurines prove that animal
husbandry played an essential role by, at any rate, the time of
The physical type of the people Is also unknown.
is not until Giyan V C, Bakun A and Susa I that we have consider­
able information, and then, in general, the picture does not vary
In most essential elements from the Hissar culture.
It Is neces­
sary merely to point out the features of this oulture which are
not found in the Hlssar culture.
Two of these are certainly Important.
Both at Susa and
at Bakun A human figurines were found. These are unknown In
the northeast.
That these are divine figures Is very unlikely.
Unless the people of this culture were much less primitive than
they appear to be, we cannot imagine that these figurines meant
more than the giving of concrete form to a feeling for the natural
force of fertility.
Unfortunately evidence is lacking to prove
that these figurines were made at an earlier time.
it appears certain that the peoples of the buff-ware oulture
burled their dead outside their villages, in contrast to north­
eastern burial cuttom.
We have positive evidence of this at
Child burials, possibly inside the village, need not be
considered as contradicting the above statement.
despite a considerable amount of digging, no adult burials have
been found in village sites.
In Giyan V C
burials in pots have been unearthed.
only three infant
Stein's work in Fars and
elsewhere and the excavations at Tall-i-Bakun go some way toward
showing that this same practice also held during the earliest
known stages of the buff ware culture.
At Susa a considerable
burial equipment accompanied each skeleton, but this is also
known in the Hissar culture, so that we oannot be sure whether
this is an older characteristic of the buff-ware culture.
burials at Susa I show a diversity of burial customs unknown In
the northeast.
It would not be surprising if their apparent absence
at Giyan was due to an accident of publication.
-14At this time, in contrast to the Hissar culture, the buffware culture seems not to have abandoned hand-turned pottery in
preference to wheel made.
The stone building-foundations and
drain in the third phase of Giyan V4^ are unique for this early
time in Iran, though they add to our realization of the developed
state of civilization.
To this picture of internal conditions within Iran during
the earlier periods must be added the relations with Mesopotamia.
The Samarra culture has been recognized by others as being
To this we can now add that it is most closely related
to the buff-ware aspect of Fars of the time of Bahun B 2, and
that it is contemporary with that phase, Giyan V A, and part of
the Chashmah All culture.
It seems most likely that the Samarra
culture did not derive from Fars, but that the Fars aspect, Bakun
B 2, and the Samarra culture both entered their respective regions
at approximately the same time and were born by peoples with a
common civilization already divergent in varying degrees.
Part of the Siyalk period, the Chashman Ali period, Giyan
V A-B, probably the earlier phases of the Musyan aspeot and the
buff ware aspect of Fars at the time of Bakun B 2 are contemporary
with the Halaf period.
There are some indications of contact
between the Halaf culture and those of northern Iran, but there
is no suggestion that any Iranian culture is genetically related
to that of Halaf.
At the very end of the period, when the Ubaid
culture was penetrating into Mesopotamia, all of Iran was af­
fected in varying degrees by the Halaf culture. At Giyan this
influence is traceable from the middle part of V B into the first
half of V C.
The early part of Siyalk III and Bakun A also re­
flect it; the Influence may well have occurred during the inter­
val Just before those two periods.
This same influence is also
seen at Susa I. As a result, some new features were added
to the
Iranian cultures, but they do not appear to have been profoundly
Possibly the appearance of stamp seals in Iran is one
G. Contenau and R. Ghirshman, Foullles de Tepe Giyan
pres de Nehavend 1931 et 1952 (Musee du Louvre, Departement des
Antiqultes Orientales, Serie Aroheologique, III [Paris: Paul
Geuthner, 1935]), p. 11 and Plate 6.
44McCown, op. clt.. pp. 36-38.
-15We are still at a loss to explain why there was a movement
out of Iran whloh produced the Ubald culture In Mesopotamia.
There Is no doubt, however, that this culture did derive from Iran
and mainly from the Fars and Susa I aspects of the buff-ware cul­
ture, though the Giyan variant seems to have given certain dlstlncAft
tive features, particularly In northern Mesopotamia.
There Is
also a considerable body of evidence to show that the Hissar
period, Giyan V C, Susa I and the Fars aspect of Bakun A were
contemporary with the Ubald period.
Despite the present uncer­
tainties In attempting closer correlation, the following general
picture Is suggested:
Some sort of expansive force and Internal
readjustment affected the peoples of the buff-ware variants of
southern and southwestern Iran after the time of Bakun B and be­
fore or about the beginning of the Hlssar period.
This manifested
itself in Iran by the settlement of Susa I and by the Influence
seen In Siyalk III up to the fourth or fifth phases of that level.
At the same time It resulted In the appearance of the Ubald cul­
ture In Mesopotamia, an event of considerable magnitude, since
as far as North Syria the cultures In place were profoundly modi­
Possibly to be correlated with the end of the buff-ware
culture in certain parts of southern Iran is the appearance of
new buff-ware influence In northern Mesopotamia.
Then at rough­
ly similar times these cultures were brought to an end by the ap48
pearance of peoples who made plain gray or red pottery.
The advent of new tribes with different cultures must have
seemed catastrophic to the natives of the buff-ware and Hlssar
In western and southwestern Iran only Susa was an Im­
portant enough oenter to be inhabited continuously throughout
the Uruk and Jamdat Nasr periods.
In these regions, the other
sites whloh are known were either deserted permanently or were
not reoccupied for some time. Yet our only evidence, from Tepe
Hlssar, shows that the Invaders were of races known already on
the Iranian plateau, however different their culture might be.
In Hissar II the population remains basically a small, graclle
Mediterranean- type.
It seems not Improbable that the same is
46Ibld., pp. 38, 40.
This may be seen In Gawra XIII; Ibid.. p. 40.
48Ibld., p. 40.
4®Wllton M. Krogman, Racial types from Tepe Hlssar. Iran.
-16true of the rest of Iran.
The archeological break at so many sites precludes a sure
answer as to what became of the makers of the painted pottery.
In northeastern Iran, except at Siyalk, there Is an Intermingling
of the Hlssar oulture and the new gray-ware culture for what may
have been, relative to the length of the period, a very considerable time.*"
The Invaders In this region were probably not so ad­
vanced culturally as the people of Hlssar I, for with the excep­
tion of their pottery they brought little that was new, other
than human figurines.
There may have been such a period of
transition at Susa (5 1),
If some of the red ware Is painted;
but there a new current soon set In linking Susa more closely to
Mesopotamia. In Fars, at Bakun A, It is doubtful whether there
is a transition from the buff-ware culture to that characterized
by red pottery (A 5); painted pottery, however, does not seem to
have died out oompletely in Fars for there Is some painted red and
gray pottery later than the buff-ware aspect of this area and
contemporaneous with some part of the Uruk or Jamdat Nasr periods.
We may infer that not all the natives of Iran were content to mix
with or be subordinate to the invaders.
of the Amrl
The similarity In design
and Nal cultures In the Indus Valley and Baluchistan
to that of the Fars buff-ware variant Is marked enough to suggest
some connection; unfortunately It cannot be shown that either of
these cultures existed before the Jamdat Nasr period.
Their ware,
in part buff slip over red body, suggests that the makers of this
pottery had been influenced by people who made red ware.
though the survival far to the southeast of Its original home of
painted pottery in the style of the buff-ware culture Is sure,
from the late fifth to the early second Millenium B. C. (Verhandellngen der Konlnklijke Nederlandsche Akademie van Wetenschappen,
Afdeeling Natuurkunde, Tweeds Beetle, XXXIX, No. 2 [Amsterdam: *
N.V. Noord-Hollandsche Uitgevers MaatschappiJ, 1940]), p. 13.
50McCown, op. clt.. p. 57.
51Ibld. . p. 57.
At Susa, following Susa I, one period, Susa B 1-3, may
be recognized which contains material from the Uruk period,
another, Susa C, which Is contemporary with the Jamdat Nasr per­
iod, and a fourth, Susa D 1-2, contemporary with the Early Dynastic
Ibid., pp. 42-43.
Ibid.. p. 34.
-17we cannot attempt to explain the manner In which this happened.
Survival of painted pottery of the old style in the former
area of the buff-ware culture is completely uncertain.
The de­
signs of the above mentioned pottery from Fars are too simple to
connect safely with the buff-ware culture.
Many problems would
be solved if this connection could be proved true.
Evidence from
Susa in this respect Is completely negative, nor do we have any
evidence that the early designs survived on materials other than
pottery. Whence came the impulse to paint pottery In the Jamdat
Nasr period, and in both Mesopotamia and in Iran during the Early
Dynastic period, is uncertain.
Evidence and inference would point
rather to its survival In Iran or to its introduction from India
rather than from Asia Minor or Syria.
It seems not unreasonable
to conclude, then, that future excavation will probably show that
the earlier type of painted pottery survived in Isolated and re­
mote localities in Iran. If a most limited painting tradition
could survive at Hissar as late as the Early Dynastic period, it
would be strange if a changed, though somewhat vigorous, form
of the old painting style did not continue in regions where a
greater degree of independence could be maintained than in the
plains of northeastern Iran.
In the former area of the buff-ware culture, we can fol­
low the changes of culture only at Susa, which can scarcely be
considered typically Iranian since it was so strongly and so
easily Influenced by Mesopotamia.
In the first phase of Susa B
the pottery is red; its forms are not yet published but it seems
to be the same ware found at Bakun A 5 and Warka XIV.
We are
fortunate to have from this phase a series of incised designs •*
on bone tools, whose meaning is not always clear though some
represent men and animals. At times the figures appear to be
clothed in a short tunic,
others to wear conical, domed or
squared hats. One wears shoes with upturned toes,
a type of
shoes seen again in the Jamdat Nasr period.
On these objects
we also recognize the earliest examples of men riding horse-back
and using reins to some form of bit to guide the animal.
de Mecquenem, "Jouilles de Suse (1929*i*1933),"
Memolres de la Mission Aroheologique de Perse. XXV (Paris:
teroux, 1934), frig. 38:
55lbld. . Fig. 38:19.
57Ibld. . Fig. 38:25.
56Ibld.. Fig. 31.
-18Gene rally the face is In front view, In contrast to the style of
Susa I and Susa D.
Animal designs are of special Interest be­
cause drawn In a completely different style from those of Susa I.
There would have been no difficulty In engraving the outline of
the bodies In the form of two triangles as In Susa I, but Instead
rectangular bodies were drawn or a single stroke represented the
body, to which were added the extremities.
We know nothing of architecture during the Urak period
except that large brlks of various sizes were employed,
that silos with open tops were used to store rice
and probably
During most of the Uruk period at Susa the areas Inves­
tigated were used as a burial ground.
We are told little more
than that the bodies were laid In trenches with pottery equipment
which Included crude bevel-rlmmed bowls.
The bodies were un­
decorated, having no beads, bracelets or rings.
In the latter
part of the period, Susa B 3, the graves are somewhat richer in
equipment and the bodies provided with ornamental pins of copper.
Here begins the practice of placing with the children peculiar
little clay, bitumen or stone objects which may have been amulets.
Throughout the Uruk period only stamp seals were used.
Their designs are in part in a different style from those known
earlier in Iran.
The geometric designs are also better adapted
to the circular form of the seals than other patterns, particular­
ly animals, which along with human figures are known.
On the whole there is no Indication that the general level
of material culture was lowered, except in one respect.
does seem to have been rarer, for the graves do not contain many,
objects of copper.
At the same time the technique of metal work-
We cannot credit the use of baked bricks (Ibid., p. 2Q0),
until more details as to their finding are available, for we know
that later wells lined with baked bricks pierced the mound.
59Ibid.. pp. 182, 183.
60Ibid., p. 196; McCown, op. clt.. pp. 43-44.
Mecquenem, op. clt.. Pig. 17; R. de Mecquenem, "Foullles
prehistoriques en Asie Occidental (1934-1937)."! L'Anthropologle.
48 (1938), Fig. 1:2, 4.
lng shows no decline, for good cast hoes with shaft hole
double axes
were available.
The Jamdat Nasr period was apparently considerably more
prosperous than the Uruk period with which It shows no break.
The tombs are still of the same type, are better supplied, and
now beads are worn.
At this time Susa underwent many of the
changes whloh took plaoe In the Jamdat Nasr period In Mesopota­
Writing appears In a form derivable from Mesopotamia.
the language nothing Is known, but probably It Is not Sumerian
for If It were It seems probable that the same script would have
been used.
The seal cylinder comes Into use.
The designs are
similar enough to those of Mesopotamia that It Is difficult to
distinguish native elements, though fantastic animals or normal
animals In fantastic postures are perhaps more typical at Susa
than In Mesopotamia.
In contrast to Mesopotamia pottery was not
decorated to any extent.
Thus, though Susa Is very profoundly
Influenced by Mesopotamia at this period, we may Infer from the
differences between the two areas that the former region was In­
The presence at Tepe Siyalk of a settlement which shows
close identity with the remains of Susa C makes it clear that
the region later called Elamite must have exercised considerable
control over other parts of Iran. Siyalk may have been the site
of a proto-Elamite trading station or caravan post; at any rate
it must have been settled in part and controlled by people from
the center of proto-Elamite culture.
This implies control of
routes from the proto-Elamite region to Siyalk by forceful or
diplomatic means, and suggests that whatever state these traders
represented must have been well organised and reasonably power­
In the remainder of western Iran, no sites of this period
are known, with the possible exception of one near Lake Urumiahy
^de Mecquenem, "Ceramique Elamite," MemoIres de la
Mission Aroheologique de Perse. XX (Paris: Ernst Leroux, 1928),
Fig. 4, left.
de Mecquenem,^"Foullles de Suse (1929-1933),"
Memolres de3a Mission Aroheologique de Perse. XXV (Paris: Ernst
Leroux, 1934), Fig. 4.
McCown, op. clt.. pp. 44-45.
-20whose objects may show contact with Ninivite V.65
We have already seen that at certain sites in northeastern
Iran, such as Tepe Hissar, the shock of the arrival of new tribes
with a different culture was not great.
The really profound change
came later and is represented by Hissar II B.
Aside from a new
ware and different pottery forms, and, more important, the custom
of making female figurines, Hissar II A does not differ significant­
ly from the preceding period.
May it be that the invaders brought
with them an element with a provincial form of the Chashmah All
culture which resulted in the reappearance of pottery designs and
coloring techniques comparable to Hlssar I A?
Hlssar II B,
though almost certainly related to Hlssar II A,does not have a
culture identical with its early phase.
Despite the predominance
of the gray-ware oulture in Hussar II B, the population remained
basically unchanged, though the skeletal material provides an in­
adequate sample on which to base any correlation, of culture and
physical type.
Our knowledge of this culture derives almost solely from
Tepe Hissar, for only two graves of the period were found at
Tureng Tepe and we have, as yet, little but pottery from Shah Tepe.
Except for pottery, the culture traits of Anau II differ so little
from those of Anau I that, they do not throw much light on the cul­
ture of Hissar II B.
The beginning of this period comes at the
start of the Uruk period while its end roughly coincides with the
close of the Jamdat Nasr period.
In Hlssar II B it is significant that the rules of burial
orientation which derived from Hissar I disappear, as well as the
love of bead ornament.
If the newcomers did not borrow the typi­
cal seal pattern with quartered-circle design, they at least shared
it with the Hlssar culture.
The seals of Hissar II B, however,
S5Ibld.. pp. 55-56.
Erich F. Schmidt, Excavations at Tepe Hlssar Damghan
(Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania tress, 1937),
pp. 108, 303. .
McCown, op. clt., p. 57.
Krogman, op. clt.. pp. 12 f.
McCown, op. clt.. p. 65.
-21are much more elaborate In form and are made of copper.
the prevalence of copper la the striking fact of Hissar II B.
Is In this material that distinctive new ornaments and maceheads
were made, though new weapon forms are uncertain and metal ves­
sels are still rare.
Silver and gold are used rarely for orna­
So far as we can tell from somewhat limited evidence,
the peoples with the culture of Hlssar II B must have lived in a
small world of their own.
They do not seem to have come In con­
tact to any extent with representatives of the proto-Elamlte re­
gion, as at Siyalk.
Furthermore, Anau II Is dissimilar enough to
make It appear that the culture of Hlssar II B was limited on the
north, except In the pocket of the Gurgan plain, by the eastward
extension of the Elburz mountains.
We suspect that Anau II had
contact with the Baluchistan area from the presence of polychrome
pottery in both,
but again, there is no trace of such contact
from Hlssar II.
About the end of the Jamdat Nasr or at the beginning of
the Early Dynastic period,
new tribes came to the northeastern
part of Iran. Physically, they too were not strangers, but the
statistically acceptable sample from Hissar III shows that there
Is a considerable increase in a rugged Mediterranean type
previously .had1been present only sporadically.
Oddly enough, of
the thirty-nine Individuals of this type which could be studied,
all but one were males.73
Possible explanations of this fact are
The period was of sufficient length that these men
cannot represent a vanguard of males to be followed by their
Furthermore, the transitional period, III A, suggests
infiltration rather than forceful Invasion.
Yet it Is tempting
to Infer that the end of the proto-Elamlte settlement at Siyalk
Is to be connected with this event.
Whence this new culture came,
70Ibld. , p. 66.
71Ibid. , pp. 58-59.
Krogman would call these proto-Nordics. An archeologist
or historian cannot unqualifiedly accept such a conclusion until
there Is some consensus of opinion among physical anthropologists
as to what constitutes a Nordic skeletally or unless archeological
evidence shows connections with a region which Nordics are be­
lieved to have inhabited.
73Krogman, op. clt., p. 17.
22and equally that of Hissar II, is completely uncertain, though It
does seem probable that It could not have been from only the
Turkoman steppe.
With a change In period, It Is necessary to attempt to
disentangle what is original in the new culture and what may have
been borrowed from that preceding.
There is little difficulty in
distinguishing what Is new, but the problem is complicated by
the possibility that Hissar II and III are basically related. Fol­
lowing Hissar III A, the similarity with Hissar II is seen mainly
in ornaments. There is no adequate method of deciding whether
such traits were borrowed from Hissar II or demonstrate a basal
relationship, suggested also by the type of pottery used.
haps the latter possibility is again favored by the fact that in
both Hlssar II and III the burials are not oriented and female
and male figurines play an important role, though the absence of
these two traits in the Near East is more unusual than their pre­
This period was certainly one of the most prosperous
which the region had ever known.
The wealth of copper, silver
and gold and the ability to cast it in a variety of useful and
artistic forms is indeed impressive.
An improved and extensive
armament indicates what an important role the warriors must have
played. If the attack which resulted in the destruction of parts
of the settlement of Hissar III B is typical, this may have been
none too settled a time. The hoards of Hissar III C suggest that
the same warlike conditions continued to the end of the period.
The "Burnt House" of Tepe Hlssar III B provides a fine
example of a fortified dwelling of a local chief or at least aninhabitant of considerable wealth and importance. Ordinary houses
were characterized by a central hearth in a big main room,
feature also typical of Hlssar II.
There is little reason to doubt that at this time there
was a well developed cult concerned with natural forces.
variety of female figurines found at the various contemporary
sites are clearly to be connected with fertility, as are also
male figurines known from Tureng Tepe and Tepe Hissar, though
there is still no evidence to prove conclusively that the feel­
ing for a principle of fertility had been abstracted into a
With some probability, one hoard may be assumed to
^McCown, op. clt., pp. 69 f.
consist of cult o b j e c t s . W h e t h e r alabaster disks and columns
are to be connected with some form of cult is extremely uncer­
tain, for the two hoards in which they were found contained too
many other objects of practical use, unless they were votive
deposits, for which there is no suggestion.
Furthermore, such
objects were found as burial equipment in some of the richer grave
Little can be said of the artistic mentality of these
They were fond of ornament.
Not only is their Jewelry
attractive and well developed but they enlivened their pottery
with designs in pattern burnish.
Attempts to compose designs
for circular seal patterns are on the whole not unsuccessful,
though many of them are overcrowded with design.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the period is
the contact with outside regions, for this area was no longer
isolated as in the previous period.
Contacts with Mesopotamia
may have been due to traffic in lapis lazuli, which was very
considerable to Judge by the use of this stone in Mesopotamia.
As the horizon had opened to the West, so it had to the North,
for Anau III shares a number of traits with the culture south
of the mountains.
Perhaps there was contact with settlements
in Sistan and Baluchistan; at least this is almost certainly true
of Anau.
As in the preceding period, the evidence suggests that
the important routes to Sistan and Baluchistan were further east
than the region where we know the culture of Hissar III, per77
haps through Meshed or even Herat.
It is uncertain what brought the thriving settlements of
the end of this period to a close about the time of the end of
the Early Dynastic period or even slightly later. It can scarce­
ly be a coincidence, however, that the three excavated sites with
remains of the last stage of the period should have ceased to be
occupied at about the same time.
There are some indications which
would correlate this event with a change in culture in the Zagros.
Contemporary with the Early Dynastic period, and per­
haps the Akkadian period as well, a fairly uniform culture is
found spread through the western mountains of Iran from Susa to
as far north as Tepe Giyan.
While there are some differences
Schmidt, op. cit. , p. 157, and Figs. 87-88.
76McCown, op. clt., p. 68.
I^id., p. 67.
51 f
culture is represented at Giyan in level IV. Ibid.
the north
a n d the south, this culture in general is more
uniform than the buff-ware
culture which earlier
occupied the same
Whence this
culture came is again wholly u n c ertain though
it seems to have b e e n influenced by people who made red pottery.
In the southern area of this culture,
tion of
the Early
Dynastic period of M e s o p otamia is quite marked,
as it is in tombs
Dynastic I or II.
Influence from the civiliza­
at Allabad and Khazineh at the time of Early
Remains of the Early Dynastic period at Susa are too in­
completely published to be very Informative,
though the previous
close connections w h ich have already been mentioned are also at­
tested by archeological and inscriptlonal evidence in Early
Dynastic III.
At Susa we are sure of the presence of Early
Dynastic I remains only from p a i n t e d pottery w h ich m a y have been
imported a n d from seal cylinders.
Similar evidence discloses
connections through Early Dynastic III.
It is obviously impos­
sible from such evidence to decide what was the political rela­
tion to Mesopotamian dynasties.
There is, however,
little doubt
that Susa w a s not inhabited to any great extent by Sumerlans.
Despite the many common cultural traits shared by the two regions,
the dissimilarities,
for example,
the absence of p l ano-convex
bricks, militate against the existence of a uniform culture.
we k n o w that during Early Dynastic III a fairly un i ­
form culture, of w h i c h Susa in its non-Mesopotamian features, was
existed throughout the western mountains.
About the time
Susa was forced to accept the suzerainty of the Akkadian
it would seem that the northern mountain zone was o ve r ­
run b y people who at the b e g inning of the p e r i o d bur l e d their
dead in stone cists and might have h a d Anatolian or Caucasian
I nto this phase we do not propose at present to
go; we would only suggest
some connection w i t h the Guti invasion,
of Babylonia.
79I b l d . , p.
80 I b i d . , pp. 47-51.
George C. Cameron, History of Early Iran (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1936), pp. 22-24.
For the attribu­
tion of the early kings to Early Dynastic III see T horklld
Jacobsen, The Sumerian King List ( "Assyrlological Studies," No.
11; Chicago:
The Un i v e r s i t y of Chicago Press, 1939).
op. clt ., p. 47.
5 5 I b l d . , p. 54.
Me so
Table 1
Vertical height has no meaning as to length of time
covered by various periods.
The small, horizontal cross-lines Joined by vertical,
arrow-headed lines Indicate that the end of one phase or period
and the beginning of the next cannot be fixed precisely.
in the column hea d e d Tepe Hissar, Hissar I C may end as late as
Siyalk III 7 b or His s a r II A may start almost at the beginning
of Siyalk III 7.
S. Is an abbreviation for virgin soil.
Table 1
M e s o ­ Anau
Hissar Siyalk
D 2
108 m. Ill B
D 1
J amdat
97 m.
B 3
Ill 7b
Uba i d
B 2
B 1
A 5
A 4
A 1
V .S.
B 2
B 1
Tahle 2
M e sopotamia
northeastern Iran
Western Iran
Siyalk III
Giyan V
Hissar 1
Susa I
Chashmah-i-'Ali I B
Bakun A, B 2
Siyalk II
Ch a s h m a h - i - 1Ali I A
Siyalk i
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