Intervenant : Milad HASHEMI, Department of Archaeology, Tarbiat Modares University, Iran, Tehran
Titre : Lithics are a Desert’s Gold; Paleolithic Archaeology of the Northern Iranian Central Desert and the FIPP
Bounded by the Alborz Mountains in the north and the Central Desert in the south, the narrow Northern part of the Iranian Central Desert (NICD) has been suggested to be a northern route for hominin dispersal. Here, the previous fieldwork has yielded the discovery of some Paleolithic localities. Due to the deflation and some other severe erosional processes, these localities are mostly surface lithic scatters, but occasionally, some in-situ Pleistocene deposits are discovered as Paleolithic caves or rock shelters or open-air sites. Investigating the existence of a dispersal corridor requires conducting fieldwork in virtually all parts of that area to identify the relative continuity of the landscapes and to find paleolithic sites across that area. The main broader objectives of our research in this area are to increase our knowledge regarding the local and supra-local hominins’ cultural evolution, their adaptive strategies, and population interactions during the Pleistocene and to analyze the existence of any metapopulation networks through the analysis of technological organization.
The fieldworks in the NICD which are conducted by the authors of this abstract include (in chronological order) the field survey in Moghanak and Otchunak in the mountainous parts of southern Alborz near the city of Damavand, the field survey in Mirak and Delazian open-air sites at some 11km to the south of the city of Semnan, the field survey in Soufi Abad open-air site at some 11km west of Mirak, the field survey in the vicinity of Chah-e Jam Playa near the city of Damghan, excavation in Mirak open-air site, field survey in the vicinities of Mirak to the northern heights, and finally, the field survey in Eyvanekey area in some 40km to the southeast of Tehran. Among them, the field survey in Moghanak and Otchunak, excavation in Mirak and the field survey at the vicinities of Mirak are exclusively conducted in the framework of the FIPP team. Excavations in Mirak yielded three dated deposits belonging to the late Pleistocene (MIS 3–2) with its earliest deposit (layer 3) being the first ever dated Middle Paleolithic entity in the whole NICD, Iran.
We then shifted the research focus to the westernmost limits of Central Iran in what is today the mountainous areas of Urmia Dokhtar Magmatic Arc (UDMA), geologically speaking in a buffer zone between the Central Iranian block and the Zagros. Doing so, we have excavated the Middle Pleistocene Cave of Qaleh Kurd as three successive missions and we are now analyzing the findings. The hitherto-overlooked region of UDMA lacks appropriate field research and needs immediate attention.
Keywords: Northern Iranian Central Desert, Paleolithic localities, Lithics, FIPP