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Studying the Subsistence Economy of Northwestern Iran During the Iron Age Through the Bioarchaeological Researches at Tepe Hasanlou

Abstract : Northwestern Iran is one of the key regions in the archaeological researches and the field of interest for many scholars, especially during the Iron Age and Proto-Historic period. The Iron Age, which covers the middle of the 2nd millennium B.C. to the middle of the 1st millennium BC, is a highly scrutinized period in terms of the evolution of cultures in the archaeology of Iran. The cultural, economy, and social developments during this age underlined the emergence of the Mannaean (Iron Age II) and Median (Iron Age III) governments, which consequently gave rise to the Achaemenid Empire in Iran. Iranian and Foreign archaeological studies who focused on this period paid attention to various subjects, such as cultural continuity or change from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, the typology of material culture, settlement patterns, and the debate regarding the Indo-Iranian migration. Tepe Hasanlou is an important ancient site due to its long sequence occupation and extensive excavations, which relatively complete studies, have been conducted in its cultural materials, including architecture, metal objects, pottery, burials, seals, ornaments, and human skeletons. The subsistence economy of the site has not been studied purposefully and comprehensively. In this regard, this paper dealing with the subsistence patterns and the way of human interactions with environment, through the bioarchaeological researches at Tepe Hasnalou specifically and northwestern Iran generally. We used the results of biological anthropology, archaeobotany, and archaeozoology obtaining the given goals. The paper is attempting to synthesis the results of mentioned multidisciplinary studies with archaeological evidences and historical records in order to re-identifying the agricultural and animal husbandry systems. The acquaintance of modern agricultural and animal husbandry activities in northwestern Iran is another possibility, which is very important for the interpretation of ancient subsistence economy. Hence, the geographical landscape, the location of pastures, products of agricultural activities and livestock, and pastoral-nomadism strategies in the region to foraging the herds are introduced in the paper. Fortunately, substantial, large, and well-preserved animal remains from Tepe Hasanlu were kept and curated at the National Museum of Iran. This collection belongs to the last seasons of excavation in 1970, 1972 and 1974, which was not studied before. The floral remains and human skeletons have a better situation considering with conducted studies by physical anthropologists and archaeobotanists. These studies published in the different journals or reports of excavations could give us the general view and awareness about agricultural activities, dietary and nutrition of residence of Tepe Hasanlou, especially during the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age. Other evaluated evidence includes the ancient records of Neo-Assyrian Empire which are mentioned to the governments of the northwestern Iran during the 1st millennium B.C. These records indicated that, Tepe Hasanlou was a province of the Mannaean State with some cultural and political communications with northern Mesopotamia. On the basis of Assyrian records, sheep, cattle, horse, and two-humped camel were the dominant animals of the region. In the 1st millennium B.C., the ancient northwestern powers of Iran used these livestock as tribute to the New Assyrian Empire. In this regard, the current study attempts to compare this historical evidence with the results of bioarchaeological studies. The results indicate the existence of developed agricultural and animal husbandry systems at Tepe Hasanlu during the late 2nd and throughout the 1st millennia B.C. All such evidence supports the existence of a sedentary society that relied on animal husbandry and farming. The results of bioarchaeological, paleoclimatological, and palynological researches demonstrate the presence of socio-economical system of nomadic pastoralism and transhumance during the Iron Age, which probably was in communications with sedentary city societies such as Tepe Hasanlou.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, April 15, 2020 - 3:53:20 PM
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Reza Hejabri Nobari, Hossein Davoudi, S. M. Mousavi Kouhpar, Mashkour Marjan. Studying the Subsistence Economy of Northwestern Iran During the Iron Age Through the Bioarchaeological Researches at Tepe Hasanlou. Journal of Archaeological Studies, University of Tehran, 2018, 8 (16), pp.165-182. ⟨10.22084/nbsh.2017.13690.1603⟩. ⟨hal-02407326⟩

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