Prehistoric land use in Darre-ye Bolaghi, Iran: A geoarchaeological approach
Dr. Barbara Helwing (DAI - Berlin)
donderdag 11 Februari 2010
19h00 - Aud A, Blandijnberg
The highlands of Southern Iran are regarded by many archaeologists as the heartland of nomadic pastoralist lifestyle that is assumed to have taken off there since the 5th millennium BC Bakun period. Nondescript sites, often barely visible in the landscape, are considered to indicate nomadic camp sites, and the patterning of sites as recorded in surveys serves, often in analogy with recent anthropological observation, as a basis for such a reconstruction. But do we really know what we think we know? Prehistoric nomads are difficult to track down; even more so should we be critical of the survey records.
Rescue work in the Bolaghi Valley of Fars/Iran in 2005 and 2006, where some flat sites had in the preceding survey been interpreted as Bakun period nomadic camp sites, provided an opportunity to test the nomadic hypothesis. A detailed reconstruction of the ancient landscape was attempted, including sampling series on botanical, faunal, isotope and geological findings, and extensive geoarchaeological investigations and GIS-based modelling were carried out, leading to the discovery of previously invisible sites. The results indicate a dense and most probably sedentary Bakun period population in the area who based their choices of site locations consciously on natural resources availability. The investigations also revealed that major geological events after the 5th millennium transformed the appearance of the landscape to such an extent that the interpretation of survey data alone proofs to be especially unreliable. The geoarchaeological work in the Bolaghi Valley can serve as a model for future in-depth investigations in such natural settings.
Dr. Barbara Helwing
Barbara Helwing is currently the head of the Tehran Branch of the German Archaeological Institute. She received her Ph.D. in Prehistory and Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Heidelberg with a study on “Uruk pottery from Hassek Höyük in Southeastern Turkey”. From 1997 to 2000 she was a lecturer in Prehistory and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bilkent University, Ankara – Turkey, and completed her habilitation in 2008 at the University of Tübingen. She has participated in numerous excavations in Germany, Greece, Turkey, Syria and Sri Lanka before taking up the Iran responsibility, where she has since engaged in several Iranian-German cooperation research projects. The first were the joint Iranian-German excavations at Arisman, within the larger Iranian-German Research Project on “Ancient Mining and Metallurgy on the Western Iranian Plateau”. By invitation of the Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation, she has participated in two field seasons of the “Sialk Reconsideration Project”, and has conducted the joint Iranian German rescue excavations in Bakun period sites in Darre-ye Bolaghi in 2005 and 2006.
Her research interests include research on Early Complex Societies in all their aspects; transmission of knowledge and culture contact; archaeometallurgy; archaeology and film.
For additional information, see the DAI website.