The Iron II Burials of the Sarand Cemetery

 
PIIS032103910013548-5-1
DOI10.31857/S032103910013548-5
Publication type Article
Status Approved
Authors
Affiliation: University of Mohaghegh Ardabili
Address: Ardabil, Iran
Affiliation: Islamic Azad University‒Miyaneh
Address: Iran
Affiliation: University of Mohaghegh Ardabili
Address: Islamic Republic of Iran
Abstract

Located in East Azerbaijan Province, the Sarand Cemetery represents a site of high significance in northwest Iran by virtue of its finds as it contains burials from two phases of the Iron Age, viz. Iron II and I. The first season of excavations identified and documented some 36 burials, of which 30 relate to the Iron II. The burials at this cemetery are of rectangle stone-lined graves, wherein a single or multiple bodies were interred. The present paper is dedicated to the Iron II burials, whose finds were compared to the materials from other points in Norwest Iran and the neighboring regions. The results suggested that the burial gifts from the graves under study demonstrate a link between the Bronze Age, Iron I and Iron II sites, a fact that bespeaks continuity from the late Bronze to the Iron II in the region.

KeywordsNorthwest Iran, Sarand Cemetery, Iron Age II, Cultural continuity, Chronology, Archaeological data
Received24.03.2021
Number of characters16450
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1 Introduction
2 The Iron Age culture of northwest Iran, chronologically underpinned by the grey and black pottery, is attested over vast parts of the Iranian plateau and shows close affinities with Caucasia and East Anatolia (Pourfaraj 2007, 4). A major question facing us apropos the Iron Age is the emergence of the Gray Ware (Hesari 2018, 102), on which various theorizations are currently on the table, among them being a cultural dynamism (Tala’i 1997), migrations of the Indo-Europeans (Young 1967), invasion (Mousavi 2001), and movements through cultural corridors (Dittman 2011). Based on his excavations at Hasanlu, R.H. Dyson proposed a tripartite chronological scheme for the Iron Age: Iron I, ca. 1450‒1200 BCE, characterized by the Gray Ware that supplanted the earlier painted pottery and was first attested in Hasanlu V. Iron II: spanning ca. 1200‒800 BCE and defined by the ubiquity of the Gray Ware with related examples found in Hasanlu IVB and IVA. And, Iron III: dated between about 800‒500 BCE and typified by the Urartian red glossy ware and the painted buff ware related to the material from the Median sites of West Iran (Dyson and Muscarella 1989). Drawing on his inquiries, T. Cuyler Young distinguished between three general periods of the Iranian Iron Age, each characterized by specific pottery traditions, different vessel forms, and distinct surface treatments. Young described these periods as ceramic horizons: Early Western Gray Ware horizon (1350‒1200 BCE), Late Western Gray Ware horizon (1200‒800 BCE), and Late Western Buff Ware horizon (800‒559 BCE)(Young 1965). However, an amendment recently made to the chronology of northwest Iran by M. Danti based on his own reappraisals propounds the following new scheme for the time-span in question: Iron I spanning 1250‒1050 BCE, Iron II spanning 1050‒800 BCE, and Iron III spanning 800‒550 BCE (Danti 2013).
3 The study and relative dating of the Iron Age sites across Northwest Iran have typically hinged on the chronology advanced for the Urmia Lake Basin (Pourfaraj 2007, 4). In the studies of Iron Age archaeology, this cultural realm has long received scholarly attention, and was subjected, almost at the same time with work in other parts of the country, to surveys and excavations, the results of which have shed light on the cultural circumstances of the region in different periods. A close look into the results from the surveys and excavations reveals that three types of sites are in evidence for the Iron Age. The first group concerns the settlement sites associated with architecture and burials, e.g. Haftavan V (Burney 1970), Hasanlu V and IV (Dyson 1989), Dinkha II (Muscarella 1974), Kordlar (Lippert 1976). Then comes the highland strongholds, which are generally known from the middle Bronze to Iron I periods in Anatolia (Belli and Konyar 2003), Armenia (Smith et al. 2004), and Iran (Rezaloo 2007; Kazempour et al 2011). The last category consists of cemeteries that are frequently detached from permanent settlements. Examples of such sites include Geoy Tepe A and B (Burton-Brown 1951), Se-Girdan (Muscarella 1971), Dinkha III (Muscarella 1974), Masjed-i Kabud (Hozhabri Nobari 2004), Khangah of Gilavan (Rezaloo 2008), Jafar Abad (Iravani Ghadim & Mamizadeh Giglu 2013), Khorram Abad (Rezaloo 2012), Tepe Boynou (Ajorlou & Askarpour 2013), Qizil Qaya (Hajizadeh 2014), and the Sarand cemetery (Sattarnezhad et al, 2020).
4 The import of excavations at the Sarand Cemetery lies in the fact that its burial gifts present a cultural sequence from the Iron I to the Iron II. Yet, a few pieces also show relative correspondence with the assemblages from the Bronze Age centers. The results from the site have thus significant implications for the Iron Age studies and the hypotheses proposed for the time-span of the late Bronze through the Iron Age in Northwest Iran.
5 Research Method
6 The present study involved two stages of fieldwork and library research.The fieldwork was supplemented by library research so as to enable the analysis and comparison of the excavated materials with those from the contemporaneous sites.
7 History of Research
8 The present picture of the Iron Age of Northwest Iran generally relies on archaeological investigations of the Lake Urmia region, where such sites as Geoy Tepe (Burton-Brown 1951), Yanik Tepe (Burney 1962), Haftavan (Burney 1972), Dinkha (Muscarella 1974), Kordlar Tepe (Lippert 1976) and Hasanlu (Dyson 1989) have been excavated. Archaeological work has likewise covered other parts of the region by both domestic and foreign teams, casting a partial light on the regional cultural circumstances during the Iron Age. Particularly notable instances include the work of J. de Morgan in Ardabil Province (de Morgan 1905), the surveys of the Meshkinshahr plain (Burney 1979, 155‒156), and the excavations at the Shahar Yeri cemetery, Masjid-e Kabud cemetery (Hozhabri Nobari 2004), Khangah of Gilavan (Rezaloo 2007), the megalithic tombs of Ardabil (Hesari & Aliyari 2012), Qala Boynu Yogun (Pourfaraj 2012), Khorram Abad (Rezaloo 2013), Tepe Boynu (Ajorlou & Askarpour 2013), Zardkhaneh Ahar (Kazempour et al 2012), Qizil Qaya (Hajizadeh 2014), to name but a few. Yet, little systematic work has covered Heris County, where the Sarand Cemetery is located. Thus, the results from the present study will be central to the understanding of the Iron Age in the county and to an enhanced archeological map of northwestern Iran in general.

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