Attempts to understand the origins of domestication and sedentary settlement in the Near East have traditionally focused on the Fertile Crescent. Beyond this region, however, in the foothills of the Alborz Mountains of north-eastern Iran, evidence has emerged that charts the Neolithic transition over a period of 1500 years. Investigations at the twin mounds of Tappeh Sang-e Chakhmaq have revealed pre-pottery and pottery Neolithic occupation in a sequence long enough to document the evolving exploitation of plants and animals leading to the development of a permanent, agro-pastoral community during the eighth to sixth millennia BC. The continuous occupation of this settlement during this crucial transition allows significant changes in lifestyle to be mapped, and provides a new framework for the earliest Neolithic occupation of Iran.
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