The UNESCO World Heritage Committee will consider Iran’s second case of geo-park in the country’s northwest for a possible inscription on the World Heritage list, an Iranian official said.
The Gadar River
The Gadar River rises in the Iranian Zagros Mountains near the point where the borders of Iran, Turkey and Iraq meet. From its source, the river first flows towards the southeast and then changes course due east through the Ushnu-Solduz valley. After leaving the valley, the river turns north and flows into marshes bordering Lake Urmia.
The length of the river is approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi), its drainage basin is variously estimated as 1,900 square kilometres (730 sq mi) and 2,123 square kilometres (820 sq mi) and its discharge is 0.34 cubic metres (12 cu ft) per second. The Ushnu-Solduz valley has been occupied since many millennia, as testified by the excavations at sites like Hasanlu Tepe and Hajji Firuz Tepe.
Hasanlu Tepe is a large, mounded archaeological site of an ancient city located in northwest Iran (in the province of West Azerbaijan), a short distance south of Lake Urmia (ancient name: Lake Matiene). It is the largest site in the Gadar River valley and dominates the small plain known as Solduz, today known as Naqadeh.
Hasanlu Tepe is the largest site in the Gadar River valley and dominates the small plain known as Solduz. The site consists of a 25m high central “citadel” mound, with massive fortifications and paved streets, surrounded by a low outer town, 8m above the surrounding plain. The entire site, once much larger but reduced in size by local agricultural and building activities, now measures about 600m across, with the citadel having a diameter of about 200 m.
The site was inhabited fairly continuously from the 6th millennium BC to the 3rd century AD. It is famous for the “Gold Bowl” found by a team from the University of Pennsylvania led by Robert Dyson.
The nature of its destruction at the end of the 9th century BC essentially froze one layer of the city in time, providing researchers with extremely well preserved buildings, artifacts, and skeletal remains from the victims and enemy combatants of the attack.
Hasanlu was the focus of excavations carried out by the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York, and the Archaeological Service of Iran from 1956 to 1977 under the general direction of Robert H. Dyson, Jr.
The site of Hasanlu was excavated in 10 seasons between 1956 and 1974 by a team from the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania and the Metropolitan Museum. The project was directed by Robert H. Dyson, Jr. and is considered today to have been an important training ground for a generation of highly successful Near Eastern archaeologists.
Originally, excavations in the Ushnu-Solduz Valley were intended to explore a series of stratified occupation levels in the area with the objective of reconstructing a regional cultural history from Neolithic times until Alexander the Great’s conquest of Persia beginning in 334 BC, such that any conclusions would rely solely on material evidence from the region itself, independent of linguistic or literary evidence from adjoining regions.
The unexpected discovery of the famous “Gold Bowl” at Hasanlu in 1958 led to the project shifting its focus to the Iron Age levels at this site, although several other sites in the region were also excavated in order to stay in line with the project’s broader objective. These other excavations were conducted at Dinkha Tepe, Dalma Tepe, Hajji Firuz Tepe, Agrab Tepe, Pisdeli, and Seh Girdan.
The excavators originally divided the site’s occupation history into ten periods based on the nature of material finds in the different strata: the oldest, period X, stretches back to the Neolithic period, after which there was fairly continuous occupation until the early Iron Age (ca 1250-330 BC), followed by a hiatus before subsequent reoccupation; occupation finally ends in Iran’s medieval period (Hasanlu period I).
Starting in the Middle Bronze III period or hasanlu VIa (1600–1450 BC), there are important changes in material culture. This is best attested at the site of Dinkha Tepe, but is also present at Hasanlu.
The most obvious change is the rapid abandonment of old styles of pottery, especially painted Khabur Ware, and the increased importance in producing monochrome unpainted pottery that is frequently polished or burnished. This ware is known as Monochrome Burnished Ware or, formerly, “Grey Ware” — the ware occurs in a wide range of colors and this is something of a misnomer.
In the Late Bronze Age or Hasanlu Period V, Monochrome Burnished Ware comes to dominate the ceramic assemblages of the Ushnu and Solduz valleys of the southern Lake Urmia Basin. Some scholars link changes in pottery forms to cultural contact with Assyria, this being a period of expansion for the Middle Assyrian kingdom, when such kings as Adad-nirari I (1295-1264 BC), Shalmaneser I (1263-1234 BC), and Tukulti-Ninurta I (1233-1197 BC) were conducting campaigns into the Zagros mountains to the south. During this time, there was occupation on the High Mound and Low Mound of Hasanlu, and graves have been excavated at Dinkha Tepe and Hasanlu.
At around 1250 BC, there are some changes in the material culture at Hasanlu and in the graves excavated at Dinkha. This marks the beginning of the Iron I period, formerly identified with Hasanlu Period V but now the equivalent of Hasanlu IVc.
While this period is designated the Iron I, there is virtually no iron in use during this period – two iron finger rings are known from Hasanlu. The High Mound of Hasanlu was almost certainly fortified during this period, and an internal gateway, large residential structures, and possibly a temple were located in this citadel.
The Low Mound was also occupied. The best evidence of this coming from a house excavated in 1957 and 1959 dubbed the “Artisan’s House”. This structure derives it name from the fact that evidence for metalworking, primarily the casting of copper/bronze objects, was found there.
At the end of Hasanlu IVc/Iron I, Hasanlu was destroyed by a fire. Evidence of this destruction was discovered on the High andLow Mound. This destruction dates to around 1050 BC and it marks the beginning of the Iron II period.
While the destruction was extensive, the settlement’s occupants seem to have rebuilt the citadel and the buildings of the Lower Town rapidly, cutting down the mudbrick walls of the burned structures to their stone footings and erecting new brick walls.
The buildings of the Iron II settlement were based on their Iron I precursors, but were also larger and more elaborate in their layout and ornamentation. The primary example of this being the monumental columned halls of the citadel.
The continued presence in significant quantities of Assyrian goods or copies, alongside objects of local manufacture, attest to continued cultural contact with Assyria at this time; iron first appears in bulk at Hansanlu at around the same time Assyria seized control of the metal trade in Asia Minor.
While the Neo-Assyrian Empire was beginning a period of renewed power and influence in the 9th century, it is also at this time that the existence of the kingdom of Urartu, centered around Lake Van, is first attested in the Neo-Assyrian annals and related literature. By the time we hear about it, it is already a fully developed state – the circumstances attending its rise in the 2nd millennium are obscure.
Urartu’s expansion during this period brought the area south of Lake Urmia under its influence, although material finds at Hasanlu suggest that the city may have remained independent. Nevertheless, Hansanlu was catastrophically destroyed,
We know a great deal about Iron II/Hasanlu IVb because of the violent sacking and burning at around 800 BC, probably by the Urartians. Over 150 human victims were found where they had been slain. Some victims were mutilated and distributions of other bodies and the wounds they received suggest mass executions.
Amid the burned remains of the settlement the excavators found thousands of objects in situ. Hasanlu IVb is a veritable Pompeii of the early Iron Age Near East. Some have suggested that the Iron II culture of Hasanlu, which has close ties to Mesopotamia and northern Syria, indicates the settlement came under the control of a foreign power, or experienced an influx of new occupants, or perhaps made internal changes to its political system.
The Iron II settlement was fortified and was perhaps entered via a fortified road system located on the southwest side of the High Mound, although this interpretation of the archaeological remains of this area has come under increasing scrutiny in more recent analyses. Two areas of the citadel were investigated by the Hasanlu Project.
In the west, buildings that served to control access into the citadel, a possible arsenal (Burned Building VII), and a large residential structure (Burned Building III) were investigated. South of this was Burned Building (BB) I and BB I East.
These buildings formed a fortified gateway into the Lower Court area. BBI was also an elite residence. It was in this building in 1958 that the famous Gold Bowl of Hasanlu was discovered.
The buildings of the Lower Court (BBII, BBIV, BBBIV East, and BBV were arranged around a stone-paved court. Burned Building II likely served as a temple, and it was in this building that the excavators found over 70 massacred women and children — only a few adult males were found among the victims.
Following Hasanlu’s destruction, the High Mound was used as the site for a Urartian fortress. A fortification wall with towers at regular intervals was constructed around the edges of the High Mound. Hasanlu was occupied fairly continuously during Period IIIa (the Achaemenid Period) and Period II (the Seleuco-Parthian Period).
The Hasanlu Publications Project was initiated in 2007 to produce the official monograph-length final reports on the excavation. Currently two Excavation Reports and several Special Studies volumes have been completed.
The purpose of this website is to present the results of the Hasanlu Publications Project, which is currently preparing the final excavation reports on the massive corpus of data produced by the excavations and archaeological surveys carried out at Hasanlu and in the surrounding region. Currently we are working on the final report on Hasanlu Period IVb, the famous citadel that was sacked and burned around 800 B.C., a veritable Pompeii of the Iron Age Near East.
Hajji Firuz Tepe
Hajji Firuz Tepe is an archaeological site located in West Azarbaijan province in northwestern Iran. The site was excavated between 1958 and 1968 by archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The excavations revealed a Neolithic village that was occupied in the second half of the sixth millennium BC where some of the oldest archaeological evidence of grape-based wine was discovered in the form of organic residue in a pottery jar.
Although the excavations focused primarily on the Neolithic occupation layers of the site, evidence for later occupation was also attested. On different parts of the tell, material from the Chalcolithic, Late Bronze Age/Iron Age and Islamic (eleventh century AD) periods was recovered, although the Neolithic occupation seems to have been the most significant occupation.
Hajji Firuz Tepe is a tell, or settlement mound, of roughly oval shape measuring 200 by 140 metres (660 by 460 ft) at its base and reaching an elevation of 10.3 metres (34 ft) above the plain, but archaeological deposits also continue to an unknown depth below the modern surface of the plain.
The plain in which Hajji Firuz Tepe is located lies in the northwestern part of the Zagros Mountains at an elevation of 1,300–1,350 metres (4,300–4,430 ft) amsl. The Gadar River flows through it toward the east to eventually end in marshes bordering Lake Urmia.
The area is an important crossroads, with routes leading in all directions, including an easy route toward the west, crossing the Zagros Mountains via Rowanduz and Arbil toward the Mesopotamian Plains. The Gadar River valley falls within both the modern and ancient distribution zones of the wild grape (Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris) and of the terebinth.
The evidence for winemaking consisted of six 9-litre (2.4 US gal) jars that were embedded in the floor of what archeologists suspect was a kitchen area in a mudbrick building that was inhabited some time between 5400–5000 BC. Inside was yellowish deposits that chemical analysis showed contained residue of tartaric acid and calcium tartrate. Additionally, analysis found deposit of resin, identified as from the terebinth tree (Pistacia terebinthus) that grew wild in the area. It is possible that the resin was used as a preservative, in a manner similar to the Greek wine Retsina still being produced today, suggesting that winemaking in Hajji Firuz Tepe was deliberately taking place over 7,000 years ago.
While the residue in the jar is not definitive proof of winemaking, it does provide strong evidence for the possibility. Grapes are unique in being one of the few natural sources for tartaric acid, which is the most abundant acid in wine and often crystallizes into deposits that are left in containers that have held wine. Grapes also have a natural propensity to break down into alcohol by a process that we now know as fermentation where the yeast on the grape skins metabolize the sugar in the grapes into alcohol. This happens most readily in a close container that is kept in room temperature. Whether or not the action was deliberate, storing grapes in jars that were then embedded in the floor would have created conditions favorable for wine production.
The presence of the terebinth resin deposits in the same container as the wine give a stronger indication that winemaking was perhaps deliberate in Hajji Firuz Tepe. Resin has had a long history of being used as ancient sealant and preservative, even before it became associated with winemaking by the ancient Greeks. The volume that was stored (54 litres (14 US gal)) also seems to indicate large scale production beyond just household storage of a food product for sustenance. Additionally, archaeologists found clay stoppers, corresponding in size to the opening of the jars, nearby that also suggest a deliberate attempt at long term preservation and protection from air exposure.
The Zagros Mountains, which separate modern day Iran from Armenia, Iraq and Turkey, is home to many wild species of grapevines in the Vitis family. While wild vines are distinguished by separate male and female vines, the potential for pollination and the production of grapes could have easily happened, providing the Aryan inhabitants access to grapes.
Several archaeological sites in the Zagros Mountains have uncovered similar findings as Hajji Firuz Tepe of jars containing tartaric deposits and wine residues. South of Hajji Firuz Tepe is Godin Tepe, a site that appears to have been inhabited just after the neolithic period (around 3500–3000 BC).
Archaeologists there have discovered even more evidence of large scale winemaking with 30-litre (7.9 US gal) and 60-litre (16 US gal) wine jars as well as large basins containing wine residue, indicating that they might have been used for treading grapes as an early wine press. The residue on the jars was also found on the side of the containers, rather than the bottom, indicating that these jars were kept on their side, most likely for long term storage.
Godin Tepe is an archaeological site in western Iran, situated in the valley of Kangavar in Kermanshah Province. Discovered in 1961, the site was excavated from 1965 to 1973 by a Canadian expedition headed by T. Cuyler Young Jr. and sponsored by the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Canada). The importance of the site was due to its control over the early lapis-lazuli trade between Badakhshan in Afghanistan and the Mesopotamian flood plain. Cuyler-Young suggested the existence of Elamite trading posts at the site established by merchants from Susa.
Although the excavations concentrated on levels II (ended c. 500 BC?) to V (c. 3200 BC-3000 BC), the site was inhabited since much earlier, c. 5000 BC. Traces of wine and beer found in ceramics dated to c. 3500 BC. and along with the findings at Hajji Firuz Tepe, provide evidence of the early production of those beverages in the Zagros Mountains
During the 1973 campaign, level V was excavated through a deep cut from the citadel. It was occupied during the period 3200 BC-3000 BC. At the end of level V there was a clear gap in the settlement sequence. There were signs of fire, such as room 22 whose roof was burned. The houses were in general well-preserved and contained many artefacts, but objects made of the precious metal were lacking. The archaeological evidence support the idea the settlement was abandoned quickly, but in an orderly manner.
The pottery of level V show influences from the Uruk culture, with parallels at Susa, Uruk (IV) and Nippur. The typical Jemdet Nasr tall storage jars, known from Nippur, and the bevelled rim bowls of Uruk are missing however.
Thirteen seal impressions and two cylinder seals were found at level V. They were obviously produced locally, as shown by the discovery of an uncarved cylinder. The seal impressions show a parallel with Uruk, Susa and other sites in Khuzestan. They were partly decorated with drill holes. Steatite served as raw material for these, sometimes treated with tempering.
At level V some 43 clay tablets were found of which 27 were preserved in one piece. They contained primarily accounts, like those discovered at temporary Proto-Elamite and Uruk period sites in western Iran and Mesopotamia.
Level IV (3000-2650 BC) represents the “invasion” of the northern Yanik-culture (or Transcaucasian Early Bronze I culture), best known from Yanik Tepe (Azerbaijan). The only notable architectural remains of this period consist of a number of plastered hearths.
T.Cuyler Young Jr. defined three main groups of pottery for Level IV. Two of these groups belong to Transcaucasian Early Bronze Age Culture. One of these groups bears two types of coarse ware tempered with coarse grit.
One of these types is characterized by a grey-black burnished surface mostly with contrasting colours in the interior and exterior of the vessels. This type of coarse ware was used for producing bowls entirely. Conical bowls decorated with incised and excised designs are common; the incised designs are occasionally filled with a whitish paste.
The second type of coarse ware is lighter in colour, often tan or pinkish buff. The surface of the vessels is either burnished or plain. Besides bowls there are jars with protruding rims and concave or recessed necks .
The second group of Transcaucasian Pottery found at Godin Tepe was classified as Common Ware. The fabric of this group was tempered by medium-fine grit and was not well-fired. This group of pottery has the same colour range like the coarse ware. The surfaces are highly burnished though the vessels with a light interior and dark exterior are predominant. The forms consist entirely of cups, including the recessed neck types. The decoration is similar in style and technique to the previous coarse wares, but the excised designs are less common.
Level III (c. 2600 BC-1500/1400 BC) shows connections with Susa and most of Luristan, and it has been suggested that it belonged to the Elamite confederacy. Near 1400 BC, Godin Tepe was abandoned and was not re-occupied until c. 750 BC.
Level II is represented by a single structure, a fortified, mud brick walled architectural complex (133 m x 55 m) occupied by a Mede chief. The columned halls are in the same architectural tradition of the later Persian halls (Pasargadae, Susa, Persepolis), first documented at Hasanlu (V). The Level II pottery (only wheel-made micaceous buff ware) have strong parallels with Iron Age sites as Baba Jan (I), Jameh Shuran (IIa), Tepe Nush-i Jan and Pasargadae.
Godin was again abandoned during the 6th century BC, perhaps as a result or in anticipation of the expansion of Cyrus the Great (c. 550 BC) (Brown 1990) or due to the interruption of a social stratification and secondary State formation process after the fall of Assyria.